By The Associated Press
Jack Lew expected to be next Treasury Secretary
WASHINGTON (AP) - White House chief of staff Jack Lew is President Barack Obama's expected pick to lead the Treasury Department, with an announcement possible before the end of the week, as the administration moves to fill the most critical jobs in the Cabinet.
White House officials would not confirm that a final decision had been made. But aides did not dispute that Lew is emerging as the consensus choice.
Lew would bring to the Treasury Department a wide range of experiences in both the public and private sector. He has spent much of his career mastering the mechanics of the federal budget, including two stints at the helm of the Office of Management and Budget, once under Obama and also under former President Bill Clinton.
Boeing defends 787 reliability; shares rally
Boeing said Wednesday it has "extreme confidence" in its 787 Dreamliner even as federal investigators try to determine the cause of a fire that has prompted new worries about the plane.
The fire happened Monday in one of the plane's lithium ion batteries. Mike Sinnett, Boeing's chief engineer for 787, wouldn't comment on that specific incident, but told reporters that the battery is designed to avoid overheating and the area around the battery is designed to withstand a fire.
But questions remain about the high-profile jet, which has a lot riding on it both for Boeing and its airline customers. After a nearly three-year delay, Boeing has delivered 49 of the 787s so far, and has about 800 more on order.
Facing backlash, AIG won't join lawsuit against US
NEW YORK (AP) - Facing a certain backlash from Washington and beyond, American International Group won't be joining a $25 billion shareholder lawsuit against the U.S. government over the terms of its bailout at the height of the financial crisis.
The suit was filed by Starr International, a company headed by AIG's founder and former Chief Executive Officer Maurice "Hank" Greenberg. It alleges that the government took nearly all of the insurer's stock as part of its bailout without giving investors proper compensation. The $182 billion bailout of the insurer by the Treasury was the largest of the 2008 financial crisis.
The timing of the suit could hardly have been worse for AIG. The company is in the midst of a "Thank You America" ad campaign to show its gratitude for being rescued from the brink of collapse.
Olive Garden parent Darden shakes up management
NEW YORK (AP) - Darden Restaurants Inc. is replacing the president of its flagship Olive Garden chain after a new marketing campaign failed to reverse slumping sales.
Dave George, who most recently headed Darden's LongHorn Steakhouse restaurants, will be the new president of Olive Garden effective next Monday. He takes over for John Caron. Darden said Caron is leaving the company after 10 years.
Valerie Insignares, Darden's chief restaurant operations officer, will take over for George as president of LongHorn.
Morgan Stanley to cut 1,600 jobs
NEW YORK (AP) - The investment bank Morgan Stanley plans to cut about 1,600 jobs, nearly 3 percent of its workforce, a person familiar with the bank said Wednesday. The cuts will focus on senior ranks at the bank.
About half of the cuts will be in the U.S. Morgan Stanley's investment banking unit has been asked to cut about 6 percent of its staff. Back-office functions, including human resources and communications, have also been asked to cut staff. The person familiar with the matter wasn't authorized to speak on the record and insisted on remaining anonymous.
Job cuts have become common in the banking industry, which has been shrinking in the years since the financial crisis imploded.
Tech delegation pressing NKorea Internet openness
PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) - A private delegation including Google's Eric Schmidt is urging North Korea to allow more open Internet access and cellphones to benefit its citizens, the mission's leader said Wednesday in the country with some of the world's tightest controls on information.
Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson also said his nine-member group called on North Korea to put a moratorium on missile launches and nuclear tests that have prompted U.N. sanctions, and the delegation asked for fair and humane treatment for an American citizen detained. He spoke in an exclusive interview in Pyongyang with The Associated Press.
The visit has been criticized for appearing to hijack U.S. diplomacy and boost Pyongyang's profile after North Korea's latest, widely condemned rocket launch. Richardson has said the delegation is on a private, humanitarian trip.
GM CEO sees US sales gains this year
DETROIT (AP) - General Motors' CEO said Wednesday that he expects the company to steal sales from rivals in the U.S. this year as its new cars and trucks gain traction with customers.
Dan Akerson told reporters that he sees a modest gain in U.S. market share, helped by the rollout of the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups and two Cadillac sedans. He also expects the company to do well globally during the next two years.
Hasbro aims to jazz up Monopoly with new token
NEW YORK (AP) - The gig is almost up for one of the eight Monopoly tokens. But which will it be? Iron? Thimble? Top Hat?
Or another of their board game buddies?
Hasbro is holding a Facebook contest to eliminate one of the eight tokens that identify the players and introduce a new one. Possible new tokens include a cat, diamond ring, guitar, toy robot and helicopter
It's the latest effort by the toymaker to jazz up the game which debuted almost eight decades ago.
MGM China gets official OK for 2nd Macau casino
HONG KONG (AP) - The Chinese arm of U.S. casino company MGM Resorts International won official approval Wednesday for its new Macau casino-resort, putting it a step closer to catching up with rivals in the world's most lucrative gambling market.
Notice of MGM China's plan to build a $2.5 billion resort in the Cotai district was published Wednesday in Macau's official government gazette.
The announcement means the Las Vegas-based company has cleared another hurdle as it races to build a second casino to compete with competitors that have a bigger presence in the Asian gambling hub. The company said in November that it had received a long-awaited land concession for the project, which will involve a five-star, 1,600-room hotel with 500 gambling tables and 2,500 slot machines.
Wendy's testing a 'pretzel burger'
NEW YORK (AP) - In its latest push to establish itself as a purveyor of premium burgers, Wendy's is testing a pretzel bun.
The Dublin, Ohio-based chain has started selling a bacon cheeseburger in select locations made with a slightly heartier, pretzel like bun. A spokesman for Wendy's declined to confirm the tests or provide any details, such as its price or where it's being sold. But the "Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger" was being advertised as a limited-time offer at a Wendy's in Miami with others posting pictures and talking about it on the social media site Twitter.
Wendy's executives have already said they plan to use better breads in the year ahead as a relatively low-cost way to raise perceptions about the quality of its food. The reliance on bread comes amid rising costs for beef, which have pressured restaurant chains that are struggling to keep prices down to hold onto price-conscious diners. So Wendy's is hoping distinct breads can help justify premium prices for some burgers.
By The Associated Press(equals)
The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 61.66 points to 13,390.51. The Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 3.87 points to 1,461.02, and the Nasdaq composite rose 14 to 3,105.81.
Benchmark oil slipped 5 cents to end at $93.10 per barrel in New York trading. Brent crude, used to price international varieties of oil, dropped 18 cents to end at $111.76 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.
Natural gas futures closed down 10.5 cents, or 3.3 percent, to finish at $3.11 per 1,000 cubic feet. Wholesale gasoline fell 2 cents to finish at $2.78 a gallon. Heating oil rose 1 cent to end at $3.07 a gallon.
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