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August 15, 2006 > Associated Press Report

Associated Press Report

August 11, 2006

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Shoppers got back in the buying mood in July, propelling sales at the nation's retailers up by 1.4 percent, the most in six months.

The snapback reported Friday by the Commerce Department came after shoppers hunkered down in June, depressing retail sales by 0.4 percent, according to revised figures. June's sales turned out to be even weaker than the 0.1 percent dip reported a month ago.

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) _ BP said Friday that the cost to repair and replace leaking pipelines at Prudhoe Bay, the nation's largest oil field, could be about $170 million.

Spokesman Neil Chapman said that was an early, rough estimate for current repairs and for a major oil spill in March.

The British company has not yet said exactly how it might divide costs with ConocoPhillips Co. and Exxon Mobil Corp., which also share ownership of the Prudhoe Bay site.

BP, which operates the Alaskan oil field, pledged to replace the pipeline after discovering leaks and severe corrosion in the decades-old pipes nearly a week ago.

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FORT SMITH, Ark. (AP) _ A former No. 2 Wal-Mart executive who began his career as the company's theft prevention chief was sentenced Friday to 27 months in home detention after pleading guilty to stealing money, merchandise and gift cards from the retailer.

Thomas Coughlin, 57, avoided any prison time, but was ordered also to serve five years probation, and pay a $50,000 fine and about $411,000 in restitution to Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and the Internal Revenue Service.

Prosecutors had asked for Coughlin to serve six months to a year in prison, but U.S. District Judge Robert Dawson agreed with a doctor who testified that Coughlin's health was too poor for him to enter prison.

Coughlin pleaded guilty in January to stealing items from the world's largest retailer that were worth just a fraction of the millions of dollars he earned in salary, bonuses and stock options.

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ATLANTA (AP) _ Shares in several major U.S. airlines slid further Friday, a day after British officials said they foiled a plot to blow up planes crossing the Atlantic. But the latest slide may have more to do with higher oil prices than with the terror threat itself.

Crude-oil prices rose Friday after dropping more than $2 a barrel a day earlier, as markets reevaluated jet-fuel demand and consumer confidence in the wake of the thwarted airplane attacks.

After their stocks were pummeled Thursday on word of the terror threat, shares of Continental Airlines Inc. and UAL Corp., the parent of United Airlines, continued their slide Friday on the oil price rise.

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ Apple Computer Inc. maneuvered Friday to keep its shares listed on the Nasdaq Stock Market after reiterating its mishandling of past employee stock options will cause it to miss a regulatory deadline for filing its latest quarterly results.

Apple said it will ask for an administrative hearing in response to a Nasdaq letter formally warning of a possible delisting because of the company's delay in making its quarterly report to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

By requesting a Nasdaq hearing, Apple ensured its shares will remain listed until a two-person panel reviews the matter and then issues a ruling. That process generally takes two to three months to complete.

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ST. LOUIS (AP) _ Federal prosecutors said Friday they will continue prosecuting BetOnSports PLC even though the online gambling company is shutting down its operations that take bets from U.S. customers.

Separately, U.S. Attorney Catherine Hanaway's office approved conditions for the release of London-based BetOnSports' former Chief Executive David Carruthers, according to his attorney, Scott Rosenblum.

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SAO PAULO, Brazil (AP) _ Brazil's CVRD, the world's largest iron ore miner, said Friday it will offer 17.2 billion Canadian dollars ($15.3 billion) plus debt assumption for Toronto-based miner Inco Ltd. in an attempt to become the planet's largest nickel producer.

The cash offer of 86 Canadian dollars per share ($76.54) by Companhia Vale do Rio Doce SA should be more attractive than bids by U.S.-based copper miner Phelps Dodge Corp. and Canada's Teck Cominco Ltd. because the other offers involve both stock and cash, CVRD chief executive Roger Agnelli said.

CVRD would also assume $1.9 billion of Inco debt. If the deal is accepted, CVRD would become the largest producer of nickel _ used primarily in making stainless steel and batteries _ as well as one of the three largest diversified mining companies in the world, with positions in iron ore, pellets, bauxite, alumina, manganese and ferroalloys.

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NEW YORK (AP) _ The owner of the Mammoth, Stratton and Whistler ski resorts has agreed to be acquired by private equity firm Fortress Investment Group LLC for about $1.81 billion cash.

The acquisition on Friday of Intrawest Corp., whose properties also include luxury safari operator Abercrombie & Kent and the Tremblant ski resort in Quebec, is the biggest-ever buyout of a publicly traded resort operator, and the third largest private equity acquisition of a Canadian company.

The $35-per-share cash offer represents a 32 percent premium over Intrawest's Thursday closing price. The offer also calls for Fortress to assume roughly $992 million in debt, according to an Intrawest spokesman.

Intrawest shares surged $7.67, or 29 percent, to close at $34.18 on the New York Stock Exchange.

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By The Associated Press

The Dow industrial average fell 36.34, or 0.33 percent, to 11,088.03.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 5.07, or 0.40, to 1,266.74, and the Nasdaq composite index fell 14.03, or 0.68 percent, to 2,057.71.

Light, sweet crude for September delivery rose 35 cents to settle at $74.35 Friday on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Gasoline futures rose 7 cents to settle at $2.0643 a gallon after closing Thursday at their lowest price since finishing at $1.9766 on April 7.

Heating oil futures rose 1.56 cents to settle Friday at $2.0406 a gallon, while natural gas futures fell 26 cents to $7.269 per 1,000 cubic feet.

September Brent crude on the ICE Futures exchange climbed 35 cents to settle at $75.63.

 
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