Top Headlines - part 64

Modest Business Travel Growth Indication Economy Is Inching Forward

Modest Business Travel Growth Indication Economy Is Inching Forward

BUSINESS

  • Egencia 2012 Global Corporate Travel Forecast says average airline ticket prices “slightly up” at 4% for North America and “slightly to moderately up” at 6% for Asia
  • Airfares in the US are now 10%-20% higher than they were two years ago
  • Predicted increase not huge but upswing seen as a sign economy making slow comeback

The 30th US President during the “Great Depression” would feel right at home with today’s pro-business lobby; Calvin Coolidge tried to cut back the federal government and was famous for saying “The chief business of the American people is business.” However, that does not explain why forecasters today still rely on business spending trends to predict overall economic outlooks in many areas of the economy. Particularly, travel.

But msnbc.com is among sites predicting that travelers and others who want to know where the economy is headed this new year should take notice of predicted airline prices and the projected cost of checking into a hotel.

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Novartis Diovan Drug Patent Loss Prompts Downsizing In US

Novartis Diovan Drug Patent Loss Prompts Downsizing In US

BUSINESS

  • Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis to cut US workforce by nearly 2000 in 2012
  • Charges from restructuring and discontinuation of unsafe experimental drugs equal around $1.2 billion
  • Novartis should save $450 million/year from layoffs beginning in 2013

Swiss-based pharmaceutical leader Novartis will reduce its US workforce in the second quarter 2012 in response to the expiration of the patent for Diovan, its top-selling hypertension drug, as well as the subpar results of other drugs still in development.

Novartis employs over 120,000 people globally, and according to Bloomberg data cuts will equal over 1.5% of its current workforce. The plan is to eliminate 1,630 sales positions, and another 330 medical sales management positions in the US.

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Pembina Purchases Provident Energy for $3.2 Billion in Stocks

Pembina Purchases Provident Energy for $3.2 Billion in Stocks

FINANCE

  • Pembina and Provident merger creates company worth $8 billion
  • Deal blends together Pembina’s gas processing with Provident’s extraction and storage
  • Companies combining now while production of oil sands and shale gas is increasing

Pembina Pipeline Corp will purchase Provident Energy Ltd. for CAD$3.2 billion in stock, creating a publicly traded infrastructure company worth $7.9 billion.

The merger will blend together the services each company offers: Pembina provides gas processing and energy transportation along a 7,500 kilometer network, while Provident offers logistics, fractionation, extraction, transportation and storage.

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Apple Suspends Sale of iPhone 4S in China, Angers Crowd

Apple Suspends Sale of iPhone 4S in China, Angers Crowd

BUSINESS

  • Flagship store in Beijing not open due to safety concerns
  • Angry customers pelt store with eggs
  • Apple products routinely bought and sold by scalpers

Apple Inc. angered Chinese customers when it announced the temporarily suspension of iPhone 4S sales in China on the day the phones were scheduled for release.

A crowd of 350 customers waiting outside the Apple flagship store in the Beijing district of Sanlitun turned violent when the store failed to open as scheduled at 7 a.m. Overnight the crowd had numbered as many as 2,000 but most left when the store did not open.

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Delta Air Lines Aims To Make Money Outside Of Selling Airline Tickets

Delta Air Lines Aims To Make Money Outside Of Selling Airline Tickets

BUSINESS

  • Delta Air Lines to sell passengers more than transportation tickets
  • Too early to gauge customer reaction to attempts to “upsell”
  • Other carriers expected to follow suit

Delta Air Lines wants to sell its passengers more than transportation tickets: it will begin serious marketing to customers to offer them various alternative services.

Critics of that plan wonder whether the American air carrier will provoke the type of protest its European counterpart Ryanair encountered when it floated the idea of paying to use the bathroom.

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Toyota Launches Its Latest Hybrid Vehicle - The Prius C

Toyota Launches Its Latest Hybrid Vehicle - The Prius C

BUSINESS

  • Prius c said to be more compact for city drivers with better fuel economy
  • Toyota Prius was Japan’s top-selling vehicle in 2011
  • US automakers question long-term viability of hybrid electric cars

Amid the era of greener, more environmentally conscious automobiles, Toyota recently rolled out its latest hybrid vehicle, called the Prius c. The Japanese automaker's new vehicle is smaller and more affordable than its predecessor, and targets city-dwelling, first-time buyers.

Toyota debuted its latest Prius addition at the recent Detroit Auto Show, following introduction on the Japanese market in Tokyo last year. The "c", which stands for city, is being hailed for its small size and record-setting fuel economy for a conventional hybrid in city driving.

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Nokia Announces New Windows Phone Handset for US Market

Nokia Announces New Windows Phone Handset for US Market

BUSINESS

  • New Lumia 900 among first Windows Phone handsets to feature LTE technology
  • Handset expected for US release within next few months on AT&T network
  • HTC also unveils new LTE Windows Phone device

Nokia and Microsoft unveiled their new Lumia Windows Phone handset this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, as the pair step up their smartphone campaign to haul in Android and Apple.

The new Lumia 900 4G LTE will be among the first Windows-powered handsets to feature the next-generation long-term evolution, or LTE, technology, Nokia chief executive Stephen Elop and Microsoft boss Steven Ballmer said at the event.

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Aluminium: Alcoa Says Smelters To Shutdown in Italy, Spain

Aluminium: Alcoa Says Smelters To Shutdown in Italy, Spain

BUSINESS

  • Alcoa closing smelters in Portovesme (Italy); La Coruna and Aviles (Spain)
  • Up to 1,500 employees affected
  • Closures reduce global smelting by 5%

The world’s largest aluminum company US-based Alcoa Inc plans to close three European smelters. The closures affect two smelters in Spain and one in Italy, and are part of the company’s strategy to restructure its global primary products unit.

Alcoa plans to close the Portovesme in Italy facility permanently, while the La Coruna and Aviles in Spain facilities would be closed partially and temporarily. The closures affects 1,500 employees. The company told reporters in a written statement that the total number of employees who would lose their jobs would not be determined until consultations are completed.

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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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