Monday, February 25, 2013 6:42 pm
By The Associated Press
High-stakes trial begins over 2010 Gulf oil spill
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - BP bears most of the blame for the disastrous 2010 spill in the Gulf of Mexico because it cut corners and put profits ahead of safety, a Justice Department attorney charged Monday at the opening of a high-stakes trial that could result in the oil company and its partners being forced to pay billions more in damages.
The London-based oil giant acknowledged it made "errors in judgment" before the deadly blowout, but it also cast blame on the owner of the drilling rig and the contractor involved in cementing the well. It denied it was grossly negligent, as the government contended.
The civil case went to trial after attempts to reach an 11th-hour settlement failed.
Barnes & Noble chair wants to buy retail business
NEW YORK (AP) - The last remaining national bookstore chain is being taken off the shelf and dusted off for sale.
Barnes & Noble founder Leonard Riggio disclosed in a regulatory filing Monday that he wants to buy the company's stores and website, but not the business that makes the Nook e-reader or the company's college bookstores. No price was disclosed.
It's the latest attempt by a company founder to take back control of all or part of a company he started. Best Buy's co-founder Richard Schulze is mulling a bid for the electronics retailer, and Michael Dell earlier this month announced a $24.4 billion deal to take the namesake computer company he founded private.
Macy's CEO testifies in fight over Martha Stewart
NEW YORK (AP) - Macy's CEO Terry Lundgren testified on Monday that he hung up on home diva Martha Stewart after she called to inform him on Dec. 6, 2011 that her company had inked a deal with J.C. Penney to open Martha Stewart shops in most of the chain's stores.
He hasn't spoken to her since, even though the two used to be good friends.
The testimony comes as Macy's Inc. and J.C. Penney Co. duke it out over the partnership with Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. The trial, which began Wednesday, focuses on whether Macy's has the exclusive right to sell Martha Stewart branded cookware, bedding and other products. Other key witnesses expected to take the stand this week include Penney's CEO Ron Johnson and Martha Stewart.
KFC launches China campaign to rebuild brand
BEIJING (AP) - KFC launched a campaign Monday to rebuild its battered brand in China, promising tighter quality control after a scandal over misuse of drugs by its poultry suppliers.
The company, a unit of Yum Brands Inc., promised to test meat for banned drugs, strengthen oversight of farmers and encourage them to improve their technology. It said more than 1,000 small producers used by its 25 poultry suppliers have been eliminated from its network.
KFC, which is China's biggest fast-food chain with more than 4,000 outlets, was hit hard when state television reported in December that some suppliers violated rules on the use of drugs to fatten chickens. The company estimates January sales plunged 37 percent.
Ikea withdraws meatballs in more than 20 countries
STOCKHOLM (AP) - Swedish furniture giant Ikea became entangled in Europe's widening meat scandal Monday, as it withdrew meatballs from stores across Europe amid suspicions they contained horse meat.
Stores in the U.S. and Canada were not affected, Ikea said.
The company reacted after authorities in the Czech Republic said they had detected horse DNA in tests of packs of frozen meatballs that were labeled as beef and pork. The Czech State Veterinary Administration said it tested two batches of Ikea meatballs and only one of them contained horse meat. It did not say how much.
Lowe's 4Q net income tops expectations
NEW YORK (AP) - Home improvement retailer Lowe's Cos. credits cleanup efforts after Superstorm Sandy and its new pricing strategy for fourth-quarter earnings that surpassed Wall Street expectations.
The results are a sign that people are beginning to feel better about spending money on their homes as the housing market slowly recovers. Analysts will be watching Lowe's larger rival Home Depot's earnings report on Tuesday to see if its results show a similar story.
Lowe's CEO Robert Niblock said the company is seeing a pickup in spending even in areas of the country hit hardest by the housing slump - like Florida, Arizona and California.
Royalty Pharma offers to buy Elan for about $6.5 billion
NEW YORK (AP) - Royalty Pharma said Monday that it wants to buy Elan Corp. PLC for about $6.5 billion, but has yet to receive a formal response from the Irish drugmaker.
The $11-per-share offer, which was made earlier this month and applies to both Elan's regular and American depositary shares, represents a 4 percent premium over its closing ADS price on Friday.
Royalty Pharma, a private company based in New York, acquires royalty interests in marketed and late-stage biopharmaceutical products. It does not discover, develop or market drugs.
Feds to probe Ford cars and SUVs for stalling
DETROIT (AP) - The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says it will investigate problems with stalling or surging engines in nearly 725,000 Ford cars and SUVs.
The probe affects Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner SUVs and Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan sedans from the 2009 through 2011 model years.
The vehicles can unexpectedly go into "limp home mode" at reduced power, the agency said in documents posted Monday on its website. NHTSA and Ford have received almost 1,500 complaints about the problem. There were three crashes and one injury.
HP finally parts with webOS in LG Electronics deal
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Hewlett-Packard is selling its webOS software to South Korean electronics company LG Electronics, securing a new home for a technological orphan.
The deal announced Monday rids HP of the centerpiece of its ill-fated, $1.8 billion purchase of Palm Inc. three years ago.
HP used webOS as its springboard into the smartphone and tablet computer market in 2011, but quickly scrapped the mobile devices running on the software amid disappointing sales. With that retreat, Hewlett-Packard Co. stopped developing webOS for its own products and gave away the underlying technology as open-source software for programmers elsewhere to modify for their own needs.
Italy faces political gridlock after crucial elections
ROME (AP) - The prospect of political paralysis hung over Italy on Monday as nearly complete official results in crucial elections showed an upstart protest campaign led by a comic making stunning inroads, and mainstream forces of center-left and center-right wrestling for control of Parliament's two houses.
The story of the election in the eurozone's third largest economy was shaping up to be the astonishing vote haul of comic-turned-political leader Beppe Grillo, whose 5 Star Movement has capitalized on a wave of voter disgust with the ruling political class.
Another surprise has been the return as a political force of billionaire media mogul Silvio Berlusconi, who was forced from the premiership at the end of 2011 by Italy's debt crisis, and whose forces have a strong chance of coming out on top in the Italian Senate. His main rival, the center-left Pier Luigi Bersani, appeared headed toward victory in Parliament's lower house.
By The Associated Press(equals)
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 216.40 points, or 1.6 percent, to 13,784.17. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 27.75 points, or 1.8 percent, to 1,487.85. The Nasdaq composite dropped 45.57 points, or 1.4 percent, to 3,116.25.
Benchmark crude fell 2 cents to $93.11 a barrel. In London, Brent crude was up 34 cents to end at $114.44 on the ICE Futures exchange in London.
Wholesale gasoline was unchanged at $3.26 a gallon. Heating oil fell less than 1 cent to finish at $3.10 a gallon. Natural gas rose 12 cents to end at $3.41 per 1,000 cubic feet.