Business Roundup for Wednesday, March 12.

Russian paramilitaries stand guard outside of a Ukrainian military base in the town of Perevevalne near the Crimean city of Simferopol (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)


NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are finishing mixed after a listless day as traders continue to worry about slowing growth in China and tensions in Ukraine. The Standard & Poor's 500 index managed a small gain Wednesday, narrowly avoiding its first three-day losing streak since January. The S&P 500 increased half a point to 1,868 points. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 11 points, or 0.1 percent, to 16,340. Technology stocks were mostly higher. The Nasdaq composite rose 16 points, or 0.4 percent, to 4,323. Facebook and Microsoft both rose. Mining companies rose as metals prices increased. Newmont Mining rose 3 percent and Cliffs Natural Resources rose 2 percent. Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.72 percent from 2.77 percent.

DETROIT (AP) — General Motors is offering free loaner cars and $500 toward a new GM vehicle to more than a million owners of compact cars that are being recalled for a deadly ignition switch defect. But the owners have to ask in order to get the benefits. The offers were disclosed in a document posted today on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's website. Owners will be able to use the loaner cars until parts arrive at dealerships to replace the faulty switches. The $500 cash allowance offer runs through April 30.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Herbalife is facing an inquiry from the Federal Trade Commission. The nutrition and supplement says it received a civil investigative demand from the FTC today and plans to cooperate fully. Herbalife says it believes it is in compliance with all laws. Yesterday, hedge fund manager William Ackman renewed his attacks on the company. He has said repeatedly that he believes it operates as a pyramid scheme.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The maker of OxyContin says it has completed testing of an abuse-resistant version of the painkiller hydrocodone. Purdue Pharma's tablets are designed to prevent users from crushing them for snorting or injection. The development could cut into sales of the new painkiller Zohydro, which has been heavily criticized for lacking similar safeguards.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Yahoo is hoping Yelp's popular online reviews of local merchants will draw more people to its search engine. Ratings and excerpts from Yelp's merchant reviews began to appear in Yahoo's search results today. Boosting search traffic is a high priority for Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer because the queries spawn insights into users' interests, which can be used to sell advertising. Yahoo ranks a distant third in Internet search behind Google and Microsoft.


WASHINGTON (AP) — A White House official says President Barack Obama will direct the Labor Department to strengthen overtime pay protections for millions of workers. The directive is meant to help salaried workers, such as fast-food shift supervisors or convenience store managers, who may be expected to work more than 40 hours a week without receiving overtime pay. It's the latest move in Obama's self-described "year of action," a series of economy-focused executive decisions that don't require congressional approval.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is launching a campaign to promote economic issues facing women. President Barack Obama is hosting at least 10 female Democratic lawmakers at the White House today as his Council of Economic Advisers issues a report decrying a gender wage gap. It says full-time working women continue to earn 77 cents for every dollar earned by men in the workforce, despite making gains in higher education and inroads into traditionally male-dominated occupations.

GENEVA (AP) — The global airlines industry still expects a record profit for 2014, just not quite as high as previously forecast. The International Air Transport Association expects the profit this year to be $18.7 billion, down from the $19.7 billion it forecast in December, due mainly to the impact of rising jet fuel prices. The head of the association says other challenges the industry faces include Venezuela's decision to block airlines from taking profits out of the country, the Ukrainian political crisis and the missing Malaysian jetliner.

NEW YORK (AP) — Starbucks will soon let customers leave tips with its mobile payment app. The coffee chain says the mobile tipping option will be available on its updated app for iPhones starting March 19. After paying with the app, Starbucks says customers will be able to leave a tip of 50 cents, $1 or $2 anytime within two hours of the transaction. The tipping option will only be available at the 7,000 Starbucks locations in the U.S. that are owned by the company.

MANILA (AP) — International stock markets sank today as recent falls in Chinese copper and iron prices added to jitters that the world's No. 2 economy is continuing to slow. Market angst about China has been fueled by weak exports for February, the first-ever default in the domestic corporate bond market and the central bank permitting the tightly controlled yuan currency to weaken. Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell to just above $99 a barrel. The dollar fell against the yen and was nearly unchanged against the euro.

GENEVA (AP) — The global airlines industry has lowered its profit forecast for 2014 due to rising jet fuel prices, but says Venezuela's financial policy, Ukraine's political upheaval and a vanished Malaysian jetliner add to the uncertainty. Tony Tyler, director-general and CEO of the International Air Transport Association, says the profit this year is expected to be $18.7 billion, a downgrade from the $19.7 billion it forecast in December. It's still beats the 2010 record of $17.3 billion.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Food and Drug Administration has halted operations at a Delaware cheese plant after an outbreak of listeria linked to the company's cheese killed one person and sickened seven others. This is only the second time the FDA has used its authority to shut down a plant after gaining that authority in a 2011 food safety law. The agency says its inspectors found unsanitary conditions at Roos Foods in Kenton, Del.

CHICAGO (AP) — The agency that oversees public transportation in Chicago is suing American Airlines. The suit claims that the airline has falsely claimed to buy "vast amounts of jet fuel" from a small office in a rural community to avoid paying tens of millions of dollars in taxes in the nation's third-largest city, where the actual work is done.

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