Top Headlines - part 62

2012: The Year Space Travel Becomes Real?

2012: The Year Space Travel Becomes Real?

BUSINESS

  • Space travel could be launched this year for eager participants
  • Virgin, XCOR Aerospace are set to offer space travel
  • Participants should not expect journeys similar to walks on the moon

For those who have been nearly everywhere, there is a new tourist destination to visit. While it might seem light years ahead, travelers can reportedly head into space starting this year.

Virgin Galactic will take interested travelers into space for $200,000, according to various media reports. No concerns about booking a ticket, either, since the process is similar to buying a travel voucher right here on earth, according to The New York Times.

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Ford Unveils “World’s Most Efficient Hybrid”

Ford Unveils “World’s Most Efficient Hybrid”

BUSINESS

  • Ford announces overhauled hybrid Fusion sedans, pulls plug on petrol-electric sport-utility
  • New Fusion Energi Ford’s first plug-in hybrid car
  • Energi to deliver over 100 MPGe on plug-in power

Ford will change direction for its hybrid-electric vehicle program, unveiling completely overhauled versions of its Fusion sedan at the Detroit auto show.

The new Ford Fusion will come in a petrol-electric hybrid and a petrol-only model, as well as the new Fusion Energi model – Ford’s first venture into the plug-in hybrid vehicle market.

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Starbucks Pushes Prices Up For

Starbucks Pushes Prices Up For

BUSINESS

  • Starbucks raises prices in Northeast and Sunbelt by 1%
  • Starbucks hopes price increase will offset costs of coffee and fuel
  • Marks first across the board increase since 2007

Seattle-based Starbucks Corp plans to raise prices by 1% in the Northeast and the Sunbelt states. This is the first across-the-board price increase since 2007.

In November, Starbucks raised its prices in cafes located in the Midwest, Hawaii and the Pacific Northwest as well as California and Florida. And while Starbucks has yet to release a list of all the locations affected by the increase, the regions targeted include major metropolitan areas such as New York City, Boston, Washington D.C., Dallas and Atlanta.

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US Automotive Industry Records 10% Growth in 2011

US Automotive Industry Records 10% Growth in 2011

BUSINESS

  • US auto sales came close to 13 million units, peaking in December
  • Chrysler sales rose 25%; Nissan and GM up around 15%, Ford up 10%
  • Chrysler to showcase 200 Super S by Mopar at International Auto Show

2011 was a good year for US carmakers, with sales rising by almost 13 million units, representing 10% growth compared with 2010. Sales are expected to continue climbing in 2012, possibly nearer to 14 million vehicles.

Ford’s F-Series pickup was the most-sold vehicle for the 30th year in a row, followed by Chevrolet’s Silverado pickup. In the category of cars, Toyota’s Camry sedan and Nissan’s Altima sedan were popular choices, followed by the Ford Escape small SUV, the Toyota Corolla compact and the Ford Fusion mid-size sedan.

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PetroChina Takes Remaining 40% MacKay River Shares From Athabasca Oil

PetroChina Takes Remaining 40% MacKay River Shares From Athabasca Oil

BUSINESS

  • PetroChina first Chinese company to fully own a Canadian oil sands development
  • MacKay River project expected to yield nearly 35,000 barrels of oil per day by 2014
  • PetroChina also made a deal with Afghanistan to develop oil, natural gas reserves in Amu Darya 

Athabasca Oil Sands Corp. is selling off its remaining 40% stake in Canada’s MacKay River oil sands project to PetroChina, Asia's largest oil company, for the sum of nearly $680 million.

This announcement comes just two years after Athabasca sold 60% of its MacKay River shares to the same China-based oil company. The deal makes PetroChina the first Chinese company to wholly own a Canadian oil sands development.

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Southwest Airlines: Pricing New Focus Now That Fuel Hedging Has Expired

Southwest Airlines: Pricing New Focus Now That Fuel Hedging Has Expired

BUSINESS

  • Southwest forced to re-examine pricing strategy
  • Southwest’s average ticket price up 39% in past 5 years
  • Ticket pricing key for airline profitability going forward

With Southwest's lucrative hedges now expired, the US's largest low-cost airline has to come up with a new strategy to drive profit. 

In the past, Southwest Airlines was the envy of the industry with its long string of repeated profitable quarterly reports thanks to fuel hedging. Southwest had locked-in buying options that guaranteed it low costs for fuel at a time when gas prices were dramatically rising.

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Halifax Media Buys Regional Media Group From New York Times For $143 Million

Halifax Media Buys Regional Media Group From New York Times For $143 Million

BUSINESS

  • Sale will affect 16 newspaper in the United States
  • Revenue for the group fell by 8.2% in 2011
  • New York Times Company to focus solely on its three largest newspapers – The New York Times, The Boston Globe and The International Herald Tribune

New York Times Co. is selling its Regional Media Group to Halifax Media Holdings LLC for $143 million. The sale is expected to be completed in the next few weeks and could net Times Co. $150 million in after-tax proceeds.

The company told reporters in early December that it was in talks with Halifax.The sale will affect 16 newspapers in California and the southeastern US. Combined, the papers have a circulation of 430,000 and include The [Santa Rosa, CA] Press Democrat, The Sarasota [Florida] Herald-Tribune and The [Wilmington, NC] Star-News.

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Shell Stops Oil Spill In Nigeria

Shell Stops Oil Spill In Nigeria

BUSINESS

  • Shell to take care of third-party oil spill in Nigeria
  • Shell suspends operations in Gulf of Mexico deep water well
  • Shell pulls out of Syria to comply with EU sanctions

Disaster has been averted off the coast of Nigeria where Royal Dutch Shell contained a near 1.7 million gallon oil spill that occured while transferring oil to one of its takers around 75 miles from the coast. While investigating the spill, Shell also found another spill caused by an unidentified third party, which the company said it will clean up.

Shell brought journalists out to the Bonga field by helicopter where there was no oil sheen. The field is controlled from a ship rather than an oilrig.

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Sony Sells Flat Screen Venture to Samsung for $935 Million

Sony Sells Flat Screen Venture to Samsung for $935 Million

BUSINESS

  • Sony faces $1 billion loss, marking fourth-consecutive fiscal year of losses
  • Samsung will continue supplying Sony with LCD panels
  • Samsung to unveil 55-inch OLED TV at Consumer Electronics Show

Sony will sell its almost 50% share in its S-LCD Corp flat-panel screen joint venture with Samsung Electronics to Samsung for $935 million. After Sony leaves the joint venture, which began in South Korea in 2004, it will opt for a cheaper outsourcing option to reduce costs in its television manufacturing business.

Sony also holds a 7% share in a joint liquid-cristal display (LCD) panel manufacturing venture with Sharp.

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LG To Launch Largest-Ever OLED TV Panel

LG To Launch Largest-Ever OLED TV Panel

BUSINESS

  • LG to unveil its 55-inch panel at the Consumer Electronics Show in January
  • LG appoints head of TV division as CEO, to begin in 2012
  • LG breaks 50% mark of market share in third quarter of 2011

Thin-film transistor LCD technology manufacturer LG Display will showcase the biggest Organic Light Emitting Diodes (OLED) television developed to date at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January 2012.

OLED is different from LCD panels in that it uses pixels rather than liquid crystals. The most recent technology facilitates LED self-generating lighting with a reaction velocity to electric signals that is more than 1,000 times faster than the traditional LCDs. OLED technology boasts thin design and superior picture quality with greater contrast.

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