Business Highlights

AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email Business Highlights by The Associated Press Posted Nov 11, 2014 3:51 pm MDT ___Ford gets the aluminum F-150 ready for prime timeDEARBORN, Mich. (AP) — Russell Barnett, a Ford dealer in Tennessee, is ready for aluminum.Ford is using the metal almost exclusively in the body of the 2015 version of its bestselling F-150 pickup, which will arrive at dealerships next month. Barnett is already answering customers’ questions about the truck, and he’s updated his repair shop not only for the F-150, but in anticipation that other Ford vehicles will eventually make the switch from steel.But just in case, he ordered some extra steel-bodied 2014 pickups.Ford is doubling down on aluminum, which is lighter and more expensive than steel but just as tough. The new truck is the company’s response to customers’ requests for a more fuel-efficient and nimbler pickup. Ford hopes the advantages outweigh customer doubts about the durability of aluminum or potential repair costs for the pricier metal.___Businesses cash in as women chase bigger buttsNEW YORK (AP) — Gym classes that promise a plump posterior are in high demand. A surgery that pumps fat into the buttocks is gaining popularity. And padded panties that give the appearance of a rounder rump are selling out.The U.S. booty business is getting a big bump. Companies are cashing in on growing demand from women seeking the more curvaceous figures of their favourite stars, who flaunt their fuller rear ends.Nicki Minaj, for instance, raps about her “big fat” butt in “Anaconda.” Reality star Kim Kardashian posts photos of hers on Instagram. And in the music video for “Booty,” Jennifer Lopez and Iggy Azalea, wearing leotards, spend four minutes rubbing their curvy bottoms together. At one point, they slap each other on the booty.___Obama steps into divisive debate on net neutralitySAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Let’s say President Barack Obama gets his way and high-speed Internet service providers are governed by the same U.S. regulations imposed on telephone companies 80 years ago.Depending on whom you listen to, the rules could unleash future innovation and create jobs — or stifle innovation and kill jobs. The divisive and often confusing debate has intensified now that Obama has entered the fray.Obama’s stance is meant to protect “net neutrality,” the concept that everyone with an Internet connection should have equal access to all legal content online. The idea served as one of the Internet’s building blocks, but its fate has been in limbo since January, when a court ruling invalidated Federal Communications Commission guidelines designed to treat all online traffic equally.___At a Glance: Pros, cons of mobile-payment systemsNEW YORK (AP) — Wireless? Bar codes? What’s the best way to pay with your phone?Apple Pay, Google Wallet and a few other services use a wireless technology called near-field communication, or NFC. With Apple Pay, the phone unlocks automatically when you hold it near the NFC reader on the merchant’s payment system. You’re then prompted to scan your fingerprint to authorize the transaction. Google Wallet isn’t quite as fast, as it requires a passcode.Some big merchants including Wal-Mart, CVS, Rite Aid and 7-Eleven are developing their own systems based on bar codes. Some have even disabled their NFC equipment in the meantime. Their system, CurrentC, is expected to debut next year. For now, bar-code payments tend to be made through apps for specific stores, such as Starbucks.___Top Italian banks healthier after EU testMILAN (AP) — The recent Europewide health check on banks is producing results for Italy, whose top two lenders on Tuesday posted a strong rise in quarterly profits after cleaning up their finances in anticipation of the test.While nine smaller Italian banks failed the test, putting a negative spotlight on Italy’s failure to generate economic growth, UniCredit and Intesa SanPaolo, the country’s two biggest banks, passed with strong marks.Before the test, the two banks cleaned out their books by writing off bad loans, a painful process that seems to be paying dividends. On Tuesday, both reported profits in the three months ending Sept. 30 more than doubling, early signs of recovery in the banking sector.UniCredit CEO Federico Ghizzoni told an analyst conference call that the test had rewarded “the strong effort UniCredit has made in the last year to strengthen our balance sheet.”___New pot shops on the block not always so popularDENVER (AP) — The booming new marijuana industry has an image problem. Not with government officials and the public — but with other businesses.From crime fears to smell complaints, new marijuana retailers and growers face suspicion and sometimes open antagonism from their commercial neighbours, especially in Denver, which now has 200 marijuana retailers and dozens of pot growing and manufacturing facilities.The strife went public last week along a once-forlorn stretch of highway south of downtown Denver now sprinkled with marijuana shops.About two dozen pot shops along this stretch of Broadway, often dubbed “Broadsterdam,” had a marketing idea for the upcoming holiday shopping season. Why not join forces with neighbouring antique shops to market the whole area as “The Green Mile”?___In socialist Venezuela, Barbie for the massesCARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Socialism has embraced Barbie, just in time for Christmas.Mothers, grandmothers and beaming little girls are grabbing armfuls of the dolls in toy stores across Caracas, taking advantage of the government’s order that large chains sell the plastic figurines at fire-sale prices during the holiday shopping season.No sooner had saleswoman Crystal Casanova begun mounting a display of gleaming pink boxes on a recent weekday than a horde of women descended. Soon, she and her co-workers were letting customers grab the Barbies straight out of the Mattel-stamped cardboard cartons.Within minutes, the entire stock was gone, with the dolls selling for as little as 250 bolivars — $2.50 at the widely used black market conversion rate.___Hellmann’s owner sues over rival’s use of ‘Mayo’You have to break some eggs to make an omelet and, according to a lawsuit from the maker of Hellmann’s, the same goes for mayonnaise.The food company Unilever is suing a California company that uses the word “Mayo” in its sandwich spread name, saying that federal regulators and dictionaries define mayonnaise as a spread that contains eggs.The suit claims false advertising by the company Hampton Creek for labeling its plant-based product “Just Mayo.” Unilever says in a complaint filed in federal court that the word mayo implies that the product is mayonnaise, and Just Mayo is “stealing market share from Hellmann’s.”Hampton Creek CEO Josh Tetrick said his company isn’t trying to mislead consumers. It is focused on using plants to help make everyday food products better.___Veterans Day means freebies for those who servedSAN DIEGO (AP) — Army reservist Dennis Rances had a general idea of how he would spend Veterans Day with his military friends, and none of it required money.The Afghanistan war veteran figured they would start with a free breakfast, hop on their motorcycles for ride and then stop for a no-cost dinner. Not just food is on the house Tuesday, there’s also free admission at select theatres to the World War II film “Fury,” starring Brad Pitt.“Let’s go, dude!” said Rances’ Army veteran friend, Cesar Garcia. He stood among motorcycles outside a packed Denny’s in San Diego as fellow veterans wearing hats with Purple Heart logos and military T-shirts passed.Veterans Day is not only a time to honour those who have served in the military: For American businesses, it’s also a time to back up that appreciation with a freebie.___By The Associated Press=The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 1.16 points, or less than 0.1 per cent, to 17,614.90. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 1.42 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 2,039.68. The Nasdaq composite climbed 8.94, or 0.2 per cent, to 4,660.56.Benchmark U.S. crude rose 54 cents to close at $77.94 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, fell 67 cents to close at $81.67 on the ICE Futures exchange in London. Wholesale gasoline rose 0.3 cent to close at $2.104 a gallon. Heating oil closed unchanged at $2.469 a gallon. Natural gas fell 0.8 cent to close at $4.247 per 1,000 cubic feet.