Business News

Last Update on May 04, 2016 07:26 GMT

THE DAY AHEAD

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Several big economic reports are due out from the federal government this morning.

The Commerce Department will release international trade data and factory orders for March while the Labor Department releases productivity data for the first quarter.

The Institute for Supply Management will release its service sector index for April.

TAKATA-RECALLS

DETROIT (AP) -- Three people briefed on the matter say that U.S. auto safety regulators are in talks with Takata Corp. to add tens of millions of air bag inflators to what already is the biggest auto recall in American history.

The people say the government wants the Japanese company to issue a recall that could more than double the 28.8 million Takata inflators that already must be replaced. They requested anonymity because talks are still under way. An announcement could come as soon as Wednesday.

Neither the government nor Takata would say if more recalls are coming.

Takata's inflators can explode with too much force and send shrapnel into drivers and passengers. At least 11 people have died worldwide and over 100 have been hurt by the inflators.

FIAT CHRYSLER-GOOGLE

DETROIT (AP) -- Fiat Chrysler and Google will work together to more than double the size of Google's self-driving vehicle fleet by adding 100 Chrysler Pacifica minivans.

The companies announced the agreement on Tuesday, saying that Chrysler engineers would work Google to install sensors and software so the vans can drive themselves.

The added vehicles are needed as Google expands real-world testing. Google says it will own the gas-electric hybrid vans, and it's not licensing autonomous car technology to Fiat Chrysler or anyone else. Both companies are free to work with others as well.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

IMS HEALTH-QUINTILES

NEW YORK (AP) -- Health care data company IMS Health and Quintiles, which helps drug companies with clinical trial research, say they are merging in an all-stock deal worth nearly $9 billion.

The combined company will be called Quintiles IMS Holdings Inc. and will have a market value of nearly $18 billion, based on the companies' stock prices Monday.

The new company will keep two headquarters, one at Danbury, Connecticut, where IMS Health is based, and another in Durham, North Carolina, where Quintiles has its offices.

TARGET BACKLASH

NEW YORK (AP) -- Target is facing increasing criticism for its transgender bathroom policy.

Two weeks ago, the Minneapolis-based discounter said customers and employees can use the restroom or fitting room that "corresponds to their gender identity." The policy announcement came amid a national debate over whether to restrict transgender people to using public bathrooms that match the sex listed on their birth certificate.

One online petition started by a conservative group called The American Family Association calls for a boycott of Target stores and already has more than 1.1 million people signed up. Other petitions have come out in support of Target.

Customer surveys from two research firms separately show that Target's reputation has taken a hit, although experts say it's too early to gauge the impact on the company's business.

CORPORATE PROFIT SLIDE

NEW YORK (AP) -- Earnings at big U.S. companies are on track to tumble 6.4 percent in the first quarter, the worst since the financial crisis.

That would also be the third straight decline in profits while revenue is on pace to fall for the fifth quarter in a row.

Much of the blame lies in plunging oil prices and a sagging global economy. The beleaguered U.S. energy sector, which includes giants like Exxon Mobil and Chevron, is expected to report an overall loss, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence, something that hasn't happened since the firm began collecting data in 1999.

A stronger dollar has also been hurting big U.S. companies that do a lot of sales in overseas markets.

But there are some signs corporate America will come out of its recent funk.

Experts think the problems plaguing profits at U.S. companies are starting to fade.

Giant consumer companies like Amazon and drug companies like Pfizer have turned in strong results this quarter. Overall, about 70 percent of companies have reported better-than-expected earnings for the first quarter when investors weren't expecting good results to begin with. Oil prices have bounced back a little bit over the last three months, and after years of strength, the dollar has slipped.

RECORDING COPYRIGHT-COURT

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- New York's highest court has agreed to rule on a case pitting the owner of The Turtles' 1960 hit "Happy Together" against Sirius XM Radio.

The issue is whether the copyright owners of recordings made before 1972 have a common law right to make radio stations and others pay for their use.

The case has been referred to the Court of Appeals from a federal appeals court. Federal law established limited copyright protections to recordings after Feb. 15, 1972, while preserving state law property rights on earlier recordings.

The case pits Flo & Eddie Inc., which owns The Turtles recordings, against Sirius XM Radio Inc., one of the largest radio and internet-radio broadcasters in the U.S.

CUBA-CHANEL SHOW

HAVANA (AP) -- Wealthy fashionistas and celebrities from around the world flocked beneath klieg lights last night on a grand Havana colonial avenue transformed into a private runway for French fashion house Chanel.

With hundreds of security agents holding ordinary Cubans behind police lines blocks away, actors Tilda Swinton and Vin Diesel, supermodel Gisele Bundchen and Cuban music stars Gente de Zona and Omara Portuondo watched slender models sashay down Prado boulevard in casual summer clothes that seemed inspired by the Art Deco elegance of pre-revolutionary Cuba.

With the heart of the Cuban capital effectively privatized by an international corporation under the watchful eye of the Cuban state, the premiere of Chanel 2016/2017 "cruise" line offered a startling sight in a country officially dedicated to social equality and the rejection of material wealth.

DOLLS FOR BOYS OF COLOR

WELLESLEY, Massachusetts (AP) -- A Massachusetts college student is launching a new line of dolls intended for boys of color.

Jennifer Pierre started her toy company while she's finishing a master's in entrepreneurship at Babson College. Her business is called Melanites, and she plans to produce dolls of different ethnicities, including African American and Indian American.

Pierre, of Pompano Beach, Florida, says her company is a celebration of brown boyhood, meant to offer boys of all races dolls that looks like them.

The dolls aren't for sale yet. Pierre has started taking orders while she raises money to manufacture them. She hopes to have the first dolls delivered by Christmas and then sell them online and in specialty stores.

Toy industry experts say more companies have started adding diversity of all types to their products.

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