Business Roundup for Friday, February 14

Part of the lower Manhattan skyline seen behind a pile of snow (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks have been gaining some momentum this afternoon with the market on track for its biggest weekly gain so far this year. The Dow was up more than 125 points, while the S&P 500 had gained nearly 10. The Nasdaq composite's gains are smaller. It's up a bit more than five points.

NEW YORK (AP) — Campbell Soup has been struggling to boost sales of its famous condensed and ready-to-eat canned soups. But CEO Denise Morrison sees a bright spot in the broth. Sales of broth up 10 percent in the first half of the company's fiscal year. In a call with analysts, Morrison says the growth in broths is being driven by "an increase in homemade soup behavior" and people cooking more with broth in general. Campbell shares are up more than 4 percent today.

NEW YORK (AP) — Gasoline prices have been holding steady this month, but analysts say drivers can expect to see them climb in the coming weeks. The price of crude oil has risen 8 percent over the past month, to $100 per barrel. And analysts expect fuel supplies to begin to decline as refineries dial back production to perform maintenance and make the switch to summer fuels. AAA says the nationwide average price for a gallon of gas has risen for seven days in a row to $3.34 per gallon.

NEW YORK (AP) — Flight cancellations have risen to the highest level in more than 25 years this winter. An Associated Press analysis of information provided by FlightAware finds that U.S. airlines have canceled more than 75,000 domestic flights since Dec. 1, including roughly 14,000 this week. But the ice and storms aren't entirely to blame. Airlines are quicker to cancel flights these days in part because of new government rules that increase the amount of rest pilots need and prohibit airlines from keeping passengers on the tarmac for three hours or more.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A three-day union vote at the Volkswagen plant in Tennessee wraps up tonight after two weeks of heavy campaigning by supporters and opponents of the United Auto Workers. About 1,500 workers at the plant were eligible to cast ballots in the election that will decide if the UAW can, for the first time, win representation at a foreign automaker in the South. Volkswagen has professed neutrality over the UAW vote, which comes as the company is deciding whether to build a new SUV in Chattanooga or in Mexico.

WASHINGTON (AP) — This winter's harsh weather has led to a steep drop in U.S. factory output. The Federal Reserve says factory production plunged 0.8 percent in January, ending five straight months of increased production. With factories running at 76 percent capacity, manufacturers made fewer cars and trucks, appliances, furniture and carpeting.

HAMPSTEAD, Md. (AP) — Jos. A. Bank is buying the parent company of Eddie Bauer. The cash-and-stock deal is valued at $825 million. It comes as Jos. A. Bank itself is being pursued by rival Men's Wearhouse. Even as it announced the deal, Jos. A. Bank said it may back out if it receives an acquisition offer for its company that it feels is superior. It would have to pay a termination fee, but that leaves the door open for Men's Wearhouse to boost its offer.

BRUSSELS (AP) — Economic growth across the eurozone was stronger than expected at the end of last year. The European Union's statistics office grew by 0.3 percent in the October-December period. The eurozone came out of recession at the beginning of 2013 as it started emerging from a five-year financial crisis, but it continues to suffer from an unemployment rate of 12 percent. The strength was largely driven by the bloc's biggest economies: Germany, France and Italy.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Comcast's CEO says his company's purchase of Time Warner Cable will be "pro-consumer and pro-competitive," but many customers are expressing skepticism. Comcast and Time Warner Cable regularly rank at the bottom of the industry in customer satisfaction surveys, and customers have been expressing worries that the deal will mean less choice and poorer service. The two companies are expected to argue to federal anti-trust regulators that they don't directly compete against each other in many parts of America so the deal won't reduce competition.

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — European stocks were muted but Asian markets mostly gained today after China's inflation was steady in January, leaving its government room to stimulate the economy if a slowdown worsens. Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell below $100 a barrel. The dollar fell against the euro and the yen.

BRUSSELS (AP) — Official figures show the economic recovery across the eurozone accelerated in the fourth quarter of 2013. Eurostat, the European Union's statistics office, says the eurozone's gross domestic product grew by 0.3 percent in the October-December quarter compared with the previous three-month period. In the third quarter, growth was only 0.1 percent in the bloc, which counted 17 members before Latvia joined this year.

NEW YORK (AP) — The relentless snow and ice storms this winter have led to the highest number of flight cancellations in more than 25 years. An analysis by The Associated Press finds that U.S. airlines have canceled more than 75,000 domestic flights since Dec. 1, including roughly 14,000 this week. Based on information provided by flight tracking site FlightAware, that's 5.5 percent of the 1.35 million flights scheduled during that period.

BEIJING (AP) — Data out today shows China's consumer inflation held steady in January, easing pressure on the government to control living costs as it launches ambitious economic reforms. Consumer prices rose 2.5 percent over a year earlier. The rise in politically sensitive food costs decelerated to 3.7 percent from December's 4.1 percent. Lower inflation is one less distraction for communist leaders as they focus on carrying out ambitious promises of reforms.

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