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Wednesday
Jan182017

American Airlines to Offer 'Basic Economy' Fares

American Airlines(NEW YORK) -- American Airlines has joined other carriers in offering customers "Basic Economy" fares.

In a press release Wednesday, the airline said the new, lower fares will be available starting Feb. 10 in select markets and expanding to other markets later in the year.

"American Airlines now has something to offer every customer, from those who want simple, low-price travel to those who want an ultra-premium experience via First Class," American Airlines President Robert Isom said in a statement. "Importantly, this new fare product also gives American the ability to compete more effectively with the growing number of ultra low-cost carriers."

With "Basic Economy" fares, customers can expect the same in-flight experience -- free drinks, snacks and free entertainment options -- as all other passengers in the main cabin. However, they will not get their seat assignments until they check in and they will be among the last boarding group.

Customers will also not be allowed to stow a carry-on item in the overhead bin without incurring a cost, and they will no be able to upgrade, refund or change their tickets.

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Wednesday
Jan182017

Confirmation Hearing Underway for 'King of Bankruptcy' Wilbur Ross

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The confirmation hearing for Wilbur Ross, President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for Commerce Secretary, has begun before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.

On Nov. 30, Trump announced his intent to choose Ross, a billionaire Wall Street investor who amassed a fortune restructuring failed companies primarily in the manufacturing and steel industries, earning him the moniker, the “King of Bankruptcy.”

The Trump transition team says Ross will be “instrumental” in implementing Trump’s America First economic plan, which aims to create more than 25 million jobs in the next decade.

“Together, we will take on the special interests and stand up for American jobs,” Trump noted in a news release tapping Ross for Commerce. “Wilbur knows that cutting taxes for working families, reducing burdensome government regulations and unleashing America's energy resources will strengthen our economy at a time when our country needs to see significant growth.”

While he was one of Trump’s strongest backers during the presidential campaign, Ross, 79, is a former registered Democrat.

But his relationship with Trump dates back to the 1990s, when Ross represented investors who were considering whether to oust Trump from his perch as head of his Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City. Ross reportedly believed the casinos would remain profitable if Trump were to stay on -- allowing Trump to save his image, according to The New York Times. Trump sold his interest in the Trump Taj Mahal in 2009 and the casino closed last October after enduring years of financial losses.

As the owner of the Sago mine, Ross was accused of ignoring safety regulations that cost the lives of 12 miners in the 2006 disaster. Days after the mine explosion, Ross defended his company's management of the mine amid multiple warning signs in the form of previously-issued safety citations.

If confirmed, Ross would take over for Penny Pritzker, another billionaire, though loyal to President Obama.

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Tuesday
Jan172017

General Motors Jobs Touted by Trump Were in Works for Years

Bill Pugliano/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Plans announced Tuesday by automotive giant General Motors to add or keep 7,000 American jobs and invest $1 billion in United States manufacturing -- later touted by President-elect Donald Trump on Twitter as part of a "big jobs push back into the U.S." -- were actually "years in the making," according to the company.

In a statement, GM said the investments will "cover multiple new vehicle, advanced technology and component projects," culminating in 1,500 of the jobs, a combination of new and existing positions. The Detroit-based manufacturer said it also intends to shift some production work from Mexico back to the U.S.

The timing of the announcement raised suggestions that claims by Trump contributed to the company's actions. Throughout his presidential campaign and ensuing transition, Trump made the collapse of American manufacturing and outsourcing of jobs -- particularly to Mexico and China -- a focal point of his platform and his administration's plans.

Just two weeks ago, Trump criticized GM -- whose brands include Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac -- on Twitter, writing that the company was "sending Mexican made model of Chevy Cruze to U.S. car dealers-tax free across border," and threatened a tariff if it did not choose to make the cars in the U.S.

But a GM spokesperson said that "product development decisions are made well in advance" and that "[Tuesday's] announcement is no different."

When questioned what role Trump played in the development, the spokesperson added that "all of the decisions behind [Tuesday's] announcement are good business decisions and they have been in the works for some time."

Nevertheless, over two tweets this morning, Trump appeared to take credit for the action. "With all of the jobs I am bringing back into the U.S. (even before taking office), with all of the new auto plants coming back into our..... country and with the massive cost reductions I have negotiated on military purchases and more, I believe the people are seeing 'big stuff,'" he wrote.

This afternoon, he specifically called attention to GM's announcement in an additional tweet, writing, "Thank you to General Motors... for starting the big jobs push back into the U.S.!"

In reference to a Trump tweet from January 3, GM said that Tuesday's "announcement has no bearing on the Cruze." The company previously insinuated that the president-elect's tweet was factually incorrect, saying it assembles the Cruze sedan in the United States for the domestic market and the hatchback version in Mexico for foreign markets.

Despite Trump's previous criticism, domestic job creation and investment are not entirely new developments for the company. In the release, GM notes that it announced a previous $2.9 billion investment in 2016 and has put $21 billion into its domestic operations since 2009.

Further, in the last four years, the company has "created 25,000 jobs in the U.S." and "added nearly $3 billion in annual wages and benefits to the U.S. economy," according to their statement.

"As the U.S. manufacturing base increases its competitiveness, we are able to further increase our investment, resulting in more jobs for America and better results for our owners," said GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra in a press release. "The U.S. is our home market and we are committed to growth that is good for our employees, dealers, and suppliers and supports our continued effort to drive shareholder value."

Back in December however, GM said it would reduce its workforce by 1,300 at a plant in Detroit come March 2017, and would temporarily cut production at additional U.S. factories in January.

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Tuesday
Jan172017

US Stocks Close Lower After Trump's Dollar Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Investors appear to be uneasy ahead of the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump as stocks closed lower after the holiday weekend.

The Dow slid 58.96 (-0.30 percent) to finish at 19,826.77.

The Nasdaq gave up 35.39 (-0.63 percent) to close at 5,538.73, while the S&P 500 finished at 2,267.89, down 6.75 (-0.30 percent) from its open.

Crude oil prices, about $52.5 a barrel, gained under 1 percent.

Donald Trump: In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Trump said the U.S. dollar is "too strong," causing the dollar to slide about 1 percent Tuesday. The president-elect told WSJ that because China was keeping its yuan weaker, "companies can't compete with [China] now because our currency is too strong. And it's killing us."

Winners and Losers: Wal-Mart Stores Inc soared 2 percent after announcing it would create about 10,000 jobs in the U.S.

Shares for Tiffany & Co. tumbled about 2.5 percent on news of lower sales, including a 14 percent decline at its flagship store on Fifth Avenue in New York, near Trump Tower. The luxury jeweler retailer attributed the loss "at least partly to post-election traffic disruptions."

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Tuesday
Jan172017

Boeing CEO Meets with Donald Trump

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Boeing CEO and chairman Dennis Muilenburg says he had an "excellent conversation" with President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower in New York Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters following the meeting, Muilenburg said the two discussed ways to simplify requirements for Air Force One "to make a better plane at a lower cost." He also praised the job Trump is doing to help U.S. business and manufacturing.

"I think Mr. Trump is doing a great job in engaging in business," Muilenburg said. "We're all on the same page here. Our objective is to provide the best capability for our country most affordably. We want to generate jobs in the U.S."

He added, "I think Mr. Trump's engagement with industry is going to help us grow manufacturing jobs in this country."

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Tuesday
Jan172017

GM Investing $1B in US Manufacturing, Adding Nearly 7,000 Jobs

General Motors(DETROIT) -- General Motors is investing another $1 billion in U.S. manufacturing operations, the automaker announced on Tuesday.

The investment covers "multiple new vehicle, advanced technology and component projects" and includes 1,500 new and retained jobs, GM said in a press release. Details about those jobs, however, won't be revealed until later in the year.

The company said it will also create an additional 450 U.S. jobs as it begins insourcing axle production for its pickup trucks in Michigan, including work that had been previously done in Mexico.

"As the U.S. manufacturing base increases its competitiveness, we are able to further increase our investment, resulting in more jobs for America and better results for our owners," GM CEO Mary Barra said in a statement. "The U.S. is our home market and we are committed to growth that is good for our employees, dealers, and suppliers and supports our continued effort to drive shareholder value."

Barra added that insourcing IT jobs and streamlining engineering operations will add even more jobs in the U.S. over the next few years.

"We will continue our commitment to driving a more efficient business, as shown by our insourcing of more than 6,000 IT jobs that were formerly outside the U.S., streamlining our engineering operations from seven to three, with the core engineering center being in Warren, Michigan, and building on our momentum at GM Financial and in advanced technologies," she said. "These moves, and others, are expected to result in more than 5,000 new jobs in the U.S. over the next few years."

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Tuesday
Jan172017

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Expected to Testify in $2B Oculus Lawsuit

iStock/Thinkstock(DALLAS) — Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is scheduled to testify in a multi-billion dollar lawsuit against his company Tuesday.

The case relates to Facebook’s 2014 purchase of Oculus, the virtual reality headset maker. Zenimax — a suburban Dallas company — claims that Oculus was created using stolen technology and that Facebook knew that when it made the buy.

Zenimax is seeking $2 billion in damages, the amount Facebook paid in the deal to buy Oculus, Business Insider reports.

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Tuesday
Jan172017

Walmart to Add 34,000 New Jobs

Walmart(WASHINGTON) — Continued expansion is expected to open up about 34,000 more job opportunities for Walmart, the retail giant announced Tuesday.

Fifty-nine new Walmart and Sam’s Club facilities, expansions and relocations will generate about 10,000 retail jobs, with another 24,000 construction jobs to come with building projects at new and existing locations.

"Walmart is investing to better serve customers,” Walmart executive vice president for corporate affairs Dan Bartlett said in a company statement Tuesday. “With a presence in thousands of communities and a vast supplier network, we know we play an important role in supporting and creating American jobs. Our 2017 plans to grow our business — and our support for innovation in the textile industry — will have a meaningful impact across the county.”

Walmart’s plans for expansion and remodeling are part of the retailer’s $6.8 billion capital investment in the U.S., set to take place over the coming fiscal year.

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Monday
Jan162017

Eyewear Giant Luxottica, Owner of Ray-Ban, and Essilor Agree to Merge

Donald Bowers/WireImage for Luxottica via Getty Images(LONDON) -- Italian eyewear giant Luxottica Group, which owns Ray-Ban, and French lens-maker Essilor have agreed to a massive merger.

Essilor would become the holding company in the deal and the two firms combined, under the new name of "EssilorLuxottica," would be worth about $49 billion.

"The marriage between two key companies in their sectors will bring great benefits to the market, for employees and mainly for all our consumers," Luxottica executive chairman Leonardo Del Vecchio said in a statement.

Luxottica is the world's biggest maker of glasses. While owning Ray-Ban and Oakley, the eyewear designer's licensed brands include Burberry, Coach, Michael Kors and Versace.

"By joining forces today, these two international players can now accelerate their global expansion to the benefit of customers, employees and shareholders as well as the industry as a whole," Essilor CEO Hubert Sagnières said in a statement.

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Monday
Jan162017

Facebook Launches Tools to Combat Fake News in Germany

Facebook(BERLIN) -- Ahead of Germany's parliamentary election, Facebook has launched a filtering tool to tackle fake news stories on the social media site.

Facebook is partnering with Correctiv, a German investigative non-profit, that will serve as an external fact-checker, according to a statement from Facebook in German. Users in Germany will have the ability to flag news they believe to be fabricated by clicking on the upper right corner of a Facebook post.

"If the fact-finding organizations identify contributions as fraudulent, they are provided with a warning label that identifies them as untrustworthy," Facebook said. "The warning contains a link to the relevant article as well as a justification for this decision. Messages classified as untrustworthy may also appear later in the newsfeed."

Facebook was criticized in the U.S. election for being a platform that spread "fake news." After the election, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said at the Techonomy conference it was "a pretty crazy idea" that "fake news on Facebook influenced the election in any way."

Zuckerberg later clarified his remarks in a Facebook Live video and said "We don't write the news that people read on the platform, but at the same time, we also know that we do a lot more than just distribute the news, and we’re an important part of the public discourse."

In December, Facebook announced it was testing ways to address hoaxes and fake news on its platform. Germany is the first country outside the U.S. to use the new tools.

Ahead of the country's election in the fall, German officials have warned users about misinformation on the internet, and German Justice Minister Heiko Maas called on Facebook to respect Germany's defamation laws, according to BBC.

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