Business Highlights

(AP) Business Highlights
By The Associated Press
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Grounding 787s adds to scrutiny of new plane

Boeing's troubles with its newest airplane got worse Wednesday after an emergency landing prompted Japan's two biggest airlines to ground all their 787s for safety checks.

It was the second fire-related incident in two weeks involving the 787's lithium-ion batteries.

All Nippon Airways said pilots noticed a burning smell and received cockpit alerts showing battery problems. They made an emergency landing at Takamatsu airport in western Japan, and passengers got off the plane by emergency slides.

ANA said an inspection found leaking electrolyte from the battery and burn marks around it. The lithium ion battery is below and slightly behind the cockpit, and experts have said its electrolyte is flammable.

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JPMorgan's Jamie Dimon gets big pay cut

NEW YORK (AP) _ America's best-known banker is getting a big pay cut.

JPMorgan Chase said Wednesday that it will dock the pay of CEO Jamie Dimon by more than half, to $11.5 million from $23 million.

It's the latest fallout from an embarrassing trading loss at the bank last year, one that eventually ballooned to $6 billion. Its ripple effects have already been numerous, forcing Dimon to appear contritely before Congress and putting the bank squarely in the crosshairs of regulators and lawmakers.

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Goldman, Morgan Stanley pay $557 million in mortgage case

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley will pay a combined $557 million to settle federal complaints that they wrongfully foreclosed on homeowners who should have been allowed to stay in their homes.

The agreements announced Wednesday with the Federal Reserve were similar to deals the Fed struck earlier this month with 10 other major banks and mortgage lenders. Combined, the 12 firms will pay more than $9 billion.

Goldman will pay $330 million. Morgan Stanley is paying $227 million.

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US consumer prices unchanged in December

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Lower gas costs offset more expensive food and higher rents to keep a measure of U.S. consumer prices flat last month.

The Labor Department said Wednesday that food prices increased 0.2 percent in December from November. Rents and airline fares also rose. Gasoline prices fell a seasonally adjusted 2.3 percent.

The flat reading of the December consumer price index caps a year when inflation slowed. Consumer prices rose only 1.7 percent in 2012, down from 3 percent in 2011.

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Fed survey: US economy picked up at end of year

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Holiday shopping, strong auto sales and a recovering housing market helped boost the U.S. economy from the middle of November through early January, according to a Federal Reserve survey released Wednesday.

The Fed said 12 of its regional banking districts reported "modest or moderate" growth in the final weeks of 2012. Of those, only St. Louis said growth had slowed from the previous survey, which covered October through early November.

Consumers increased spending at the end of the year in every district. Auto sales were steady or stronger in 10 districts. Nearly all of the districts reported increases in home construction and home sales.

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US factory output rises for 2nd straight month

WASHINGTON (AP) _ U.S. factory production rose in December for the second straight month, buoyed by more output of autos, electronics and business equipment.

The Federal Reserve said Wednesday that factory output increased 0.8 percent last month compared with November. That followed a 1.3 percent rise in November, which partly reflected a rebound from Superstorm Sandy.

Total industrial production increased 0.3 percent in December from November. That followed a 1 percent rise in November. Production slowed last month mostly because utility output dropped 4.8 percent, reflecting unseasonably warm weather.

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US homebuilder confidence steady near 7-year high

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Confidence among U.S. homebuilders held steady in January at the highest level in nearly seven years, but builders are feeling slightly less optimistic about their prospects for sales over the next six months.

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index released Wednesday held at 47, the same as in December and the highest reading since April 2006, just before the housing bubble burst.

Readings below 50 suggest negative sentiment about the housing market. The last time the index was at that level or higher was in April 2006 when the reading was 51. It began trending higher in October 2011, when it stood at 17.

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Foreign holdings of US debt hit record in November

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Foreign demand for U.S. Treasury securities rose to a record level in November, further evidence that overseas investors remained confident in U.S. debt despite looming budget battles in Washington.

The Treasury Department says foreign holdings of U.S. Treasurys rose 0.6 percent in November from October to $5.56 trillion. It was the 11th consecutive monthly gain.

China, the top foreign holder, increased its portfolio by $200 million to $1.17 trillion. Japan, the second-largest holder, boosted its investments by $900 million to $1.13 trillion.

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EBay's 4Q earnings top analysts' estimates

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ EBay's fourth-quarter earnings topped analysts' projections as bargain-hunting holiday shoppers flocked to its Internet shopping mall and digital payment service.

The results announced Wednesday served as the exclamation point on the best year yet for eBay Inc., an e-commerce pioneer founded in 1995 when the idea of buying merchandise online was just getting started.

Online shopping has since become a staple for hordes of consumers, turning eBay into a thriving business and a Wall Street favorite.

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AMR cuts labor costs, posts 4Q profit of $262 million

DALLAS (AP) _ American Airlines made a profit in the fourth quarter, a big turnaround from a year ago, as it slashed labor costs and reaped other benefits from its trip to bankruptcy court.

Parent company AMR Corp. said Wednesday that net income was $262 million compared with a loss of $1.1 billion in the fourth quarter of 2011.

Labor was AMR's second-biggest expense behind fuel. The company chopped spending on wages and benefits by 13 percent as it eliminated thousands of jobs and reworked its union contracts to cut costs.

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By The Associated Press(equals)

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 23.66 points to close at 13,511.23. The Standard & Poor's 500 index inched up 0.29 to 1,472.63. The Nasdaq composite rose 6.77 points to 3,117.54.

Benchmark oil was up 96 cents to finish at $94.24 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international varieties of oil, rose 31 cents to end at $110.61 per barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

Wholesale gasoline rose 1 cent to finish at $2.72 a gallon. Natural gas lost 2 cents to end at $3.44 per 1,000 cubic feet. Heating oil fell 1 cent to finish at $3.00 a gallon.

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