Business Highlights


Facebook soars after 2Q results beat estimates

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Facebook's stock is flying high after the world's biggest social network posted higher revenue from mobile ads and delivered a healthy second-quarter profit that reversed a loss a year earlier.

The results, which come on the heels of weaker-than-expected results from online search leader Google Inc., signal that Facebook's aggressive push into the mobile advertising market continues to pay off. The company began showing mobile advertisements for the first time last spring. On Wednesday, Facebook said mobile ads accounted for 41 per cent of its total advertising revenue.

The Menlo Park, Calif.-based company's stock jumped $4.93, or 18.6 per cent, to $31.44 in extended trading after closing at $26.51. The stock priced at $38 when Facebook went public in May 2012 and hasn't hit that since.


Ford 2Q shines as North America, Asia lead the way

DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) — Ford Motor Co. is finally becoming the well-rounded company it aspires to be.

Almost bankrupt in the last decade because it relied too heavily on selling big trucks and SUVs in North America, the second-largest U.S. automaker is now making small and midsize cars at a profit and selling them across the globe.

Ford's Asian operations earned a record quarterly profit of $117 million in the three months ended June 30, and 20 per cent of Ford's sales came from the region. That's up from 11 per cent five years ago. Sales also grew in South America, where second-quarter profit jumped to $151 million from $5 million a year ago. Ford even narrowed its losses in recession-weary Europe.

North America still contributed the bulk of Ford's net income, which grew 18.5 per cent to $1.23 billion in the April-June period. But the rest of Ford's global regions broke even for the first time in two years, clawing their way back from a $600 million loss in the first quarter.


Marketing national health care shaping up as big challenge

CHICAGO (AP) — It will make you stronger. It will give you peace of mind and make you feel like a winner. Health insurance is what the whole country has been talking about, so don't be left out.

Sound like a sales pitch? Get ready for a lot more. As President Barack Obama's health care law moves from theory to reality in the coming months, its success may hinge on whether the best minds in advertising can reach one of the hardest-to-find parts of the population: people without health coverage.

The campaign won't come cheap: The total amount to be spent nationally on publicity, marketing and advertising will be at least $684 million, according to data compiled by The Associated Press from federal and state sources.

About 16 per cent of Americans are uninsured, but despite years of political debate and media attention, more than three-quarters of them still don't fully understand the new health care law, according to recent surveys.


Boeing 2Q profit tops expectations despite 787

Boeing's problems with its 787 have made headlines, but they aren't slowing the big plane maker down.

The company's second-quarter earnings topped expectations as it ramped up deliveries of commercial planes like the 737 and 777. It also raised its full-year profit guidance.

Boeing resumed delivering 787s in the quarter after deliveries were halted for nearly four months after the planes were grounded for battery problems. Boeing delivered 16 of the technologically advanced jets during the quarter. It still expects to deliver at least 60 of the 787s this year — the same goal it had before the battery problems surfaced.


Caterpillar 2Q profit falls 43 per cent; cuts outlook

A global mining industry slump cut into second-quarter earnings at Caterpillar Inc. as companies spent less on equipment and dealers cut inventories more than Caterpillar expected.

The world's largest maker of construction and mining equipment posted a 43 per cent slide in earnings and cut its profit and revenue outlook for the year.

Caterpillar reported earnings of $960 million, or $1.45 per share, compared with $1.7 billion, or $2.54 per share a year ago. Revenue slid 15.8 per cent to $14.63 billion.


The perfect fit: Wonderbra maker to buy Maidenform

NEW YORK (AP) — It's the perfect fit.

Two of the world's top bra makers are coming together in the biggest development in the $11.5 billion underwear industry in years.

Hanesbrands, which makes the Wonderbra, said Tuesday that it agreed to buy bra and underwear company Maidenform Brands Inc. for about $547 million. The deal would add brands like Maidenform, Flexees and Self Expressions to the Hanesbrand roster that includes Playtex, Bali, Champion, Wonderbra and its namesake Hanes.

The merger comes as traditional bra and underwear makers are facing tough competition from specialty stores like Victoria's Secret, that focus on frilly designs, and newer rivals like Spanx that make shapewear promising to control and smooth out bulges.


Coca-Cola, PepsiCo see soda declines continue

NEW YORK (AP) — It seems that not even Beyonce or new, lower-calorie options can convince Americans to drink more soda.

Coca-Cola Co., PepsiCo Inc. and Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc. all sold less soda in the second quarter in North America, dashing hopes for the moment that splashy new marketing and different sweetener mixes could get drinkers back.

Coca-Cola Co. said it sold 4 per cent less soda in North America, while PepsiCo Inc. simply said its decline for the region was in the "mid-single digits." Dr Pepper sold 3 per cent less of the fizzy drinks.

Coca-Cola, based in Atlanta, blamed the sluggish sales on a cold, wet spring. But the declines continue a yearslong trend. According to industry tracker Beverage Digest, per capita soda consumption in the U.S. has been slipping steadily since 1998 amid concerns that sugary drinks fuel weight gain.


Analysis: A volatile summer for Hollywood

NEW YORK (AP) — On and off screen, it's been a bruising summer for Hollywood.

Every weekend, the multiplex has been under siege like it has rarely been before. One after another, they have come: Big-budget, globe-trotting blockbusters backed by marketing budgets in the hundreds of millions.

As the studios have focused increasingly on the fortunes of monster-sized "tentpoles," as they're known in the trade, weekend real-estate in the summer months has become territory. In the season's packed schedule, there's little breathing room for the blockbusters: They need to open big, right away.

Some of these films have succeeded. Some have flopped. But more than most summers, the content of this year's seasonal crop of spectacles has taken a pummeling, leaving both moviegoers and some in the industry dazed from the onslaught.


US new-home sales jump to highest level in 5 years

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans snapped up new homes in June at the fastest pace in five years, a sign the housing recovery is strengthening.

Sales of newly built homes rose 8.3 per cent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 497,000, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. That's the highest since May 2008 and up from an annual rate of 459,000 in May, which was revised lower.

While sales are still below the 700,000 pace consistent with healthy markets, they have risen 38 per cent in the past 12 months. That's the biggest annual gain since January 1992.


Detroit bankruptcy tests state pension protections

As the once-proud city of Detroit humbles itself in bankruptcy court, its financial future may hinge on this key question: Is the city obliged to its past? Or can Detroit renege on its promises to thousands of retirees for the sake of its present city services?

The legal question at the heart of Detroit's bankruptcy filing has never definitively been answered by the nation's highest courts. But it could become increasingly important as cities from coast to coast grapple with shortfalls in pension funds that left unchecked could force cutbacks to police, firefighters and other essential city services.

On Wednesday the federal judge overseeing Detroit's bankruptcy ruled that city employees could not go to state courts to keep their pensions out of the bankruptcy case. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes said he would hear the pensioners' arguments in his court.


By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 25.50 points, or 0.2 per cent, at 15,542.24. The Standard

Benchmark crude for September delivery dropped $1.84, or 1.7 per cent, to close at $105.39 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, traded on the ICE Futures exchange in London, fell $1.23 to finish at $107.19 a barrel.

Wholesale gasoline lost 0.4 cent to end at $3.05 a gallon. Heating oil lost 2 cents to finish at $3.05 a gallon. Natural gas fell 4.5 cents to end at $3.70 per 1,000 cubic feet.