Business briefs: April 4, 2013
High-profile rapes threaten India tourism business
MUMBAI, India -- A fatal gang rape in New Delhi didn't deter Germans Carolina De Paolo and Canan Wahner from traveling to India for a six-week tour. The attack was awful, but there is crime everywhere, they figured, and they'd take precautions.
Then a man sidled up to Wahner on a train to Goa and ran his hand up her leg a few weeks into the trip. On another train, a different man grabbed De Paolo's breasts from behind.
She never reported the crime, deciding there would be no point. The two women, both 22, say there were times they didn't feel safe, but they insist they still would go to India again.
That separates them from many tourists, who are choosing not to.
Violence against women, and the huge publicity generated by recent attacks, is threatening India's $17.7 billion tourism industry. A new study shows tourism has plunged, especially among women, since a 23-year-old Indian student was raped on a New Delhi bus and later died from her injuries -- a case that garnered worldwide publicity. The government denies any drop in tourism. U.S. service firms grow more slowly, hiring weakens
WASHINGTON -- Two reports Wednesday showed that U.S. service companies grew more slowly in March and private employers pulled back on hiring. The declines suggest businesses may have grown more cautious last month after federal spending cuts took effect.
The Institute for Supply Management said its index of non-manufacturing activity fell to 54.4 last month. That's down from 56 in February and the lowest in seven months. Any reading above 50 signals expansion.
Slower hiring and a steep drop in new orders drove the index down. A gauge of hiring fell 3.9 points to 53.3, the lowest since November. That means companies kept hiring, but at a slower pace.
The ISM report covers companies that employ roughly 90 percent of the workforce.
U.S. home prices rose in February by most in 7 years
WASHINGTON -- U.S. home prices jumped in February by the largest amount in seven years, evidence that the housing recovery strengthened ahead of the all-important spring buying season.
Home prices rose 10.2 percent in February compared with a year earlier, CoreLogic, a real estate data provider, said Wednesday. The annual gain was the biggest since March 2006. Prices have increased on an annual basis for 12 straight months, underscoring the recovery's steady momentum.
The gains were broad-based. Prices rose in 47 of 50 states and in all but four of the nation's 100 largest metro areas. Delaware, Alabama and Illinois were the only states to report price declines.
Survey: Private employers add 158,000 jobs in March
WASHINGTON -- A survey shows U.S. companies added fewer jobs in March compared with the previous month, as construction firms held off on hiring after three months of solid gains.
Private employers added 158,000 jobs last month, payroll processor ADP said Wednesday. That's down from February's gain of 237,000 and January's 177,000.
Construction companies didn't add any jobs in March, after average monthly gains of 29,000 in the previous three months.
Boeing 787 testing more than half done
Boeing said it has finished more than half of the testing on its proposed battery fix for the 787, with the rest of the ground and flight tests coming in the next several days.
The results so far have been in line with the testing Boeing did when it was developing the fix, spokesman Marc Birtel said Wednesday.
Smoldering batteries -- including one fire on the ground -- prompted air safety authorities to ground the world's 787s in mid-January. Boeing has developed what it believes is a permanent fix, including more heat insulation and a system for venting battery gases outside of the plane.
Monsanto profit rises 22 percent in second quarter
WASHINGTON -- Monsanto reported Wednesday that its income increased 22 percent in the agriculture products company's second quarter on strong sales of biotech seeds, particularly in Brazil and other emerging markets.
The company boosted its full-year earnings guidance, citing its strong performance in the first half of the year.
The St. Louis company said it earned $1.48 billion, or $2.74 per share in the three months ended Feb. 13, up from $1.21 billion, or $2.24 per share, in the same quarter a year ago.
Monsanto Co.'s sales increased 15 percent to $5.47 billion, led by genetically modified corn seeds, the company's best-selling product.
Analyst: 60-inch Apple iTV to launch this year
NEW YORK -- It's no secret that Apple wants to get into the living room by making its own TV set, and there have been plenty of rumors and reports about how and when it's going to happen.
Now an analyst says he's learned that the set will go on sale late this year, for $1,500 to $2,500.
In a research note Wednesday, Brian White of Topeka Capital Markets says the "iTV'' will be 60 inches on the diagonal, but could also come in 50- and 55-inch versions. Apple will also release a small "iRing'' that fits on the viewer's finger, allowing the user to control the screen by pointing, White says.
Poll finds caution 5 years after financial crisis
BOSTON -- Americans have grown more cautious and disciplined in handling their money since the financial crisis struck in 2008, a survey by a leading mutual fund company suggests.
People say they don't spend as much, save as little or embrace as much risk as they did before the crisis, according to a survey of nearly 1,200 people by Fidelity Investments.
As a group, people say they're saving more in 401(k) retirement plans and reducing debt.
Dow Jones average falls 111.66 points
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 111.66 points, or 0.8 percent, to 14550.35. The Standard & Poor's 500 index dropped 16.56 points, or 1.1 percent, to 1553.69. The Standard & Poor's 500 index dropped 16.56 points, or 1.1 percent, to 1553.69.
Benchmark oil for May delivery dropped $2.74, or 2.8 percent, to close at $94.45 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price many kinds of oil imported by U.S. refineries, was down $3.58, or 3.2 percent, to end at $107.11 per barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.
Heating oil lost 9 cents to finish at $3 a gallon. Natural gas gave up 7 cents to end at $3.90 per 1,000 cubic feet.