AP Business NewsBrief at 6:25 p.m. EST
(Associated Press Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Obama picks former prosecutor to head SECWASHINGTON (AP) _ President Barack Obama sent his strongest signal yet Thursday that he wants the government to get tougher with Wall Street, appointing a former prosecutor to head the Securities and Exchange Commission for the first time in the agency's 79-year history. Mary Jo White, former U.S. attorney in Manhattan, has an extensive record of prosecuting white-collar crime, won convictions in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the 1998 terrorist attacks on two U.S. embassies in Africa, and put crime boss John Gotti away.
AT&T gains customers in 4Q, posts big lossNEW YORK (AP) _ The launch of the iPhone 5 helped AT&T attract more new customers in the holiday quarter than it has in three years, but it posted a big loss because of an annual adjustment to its pension obligations. AT&T Inc. on Thursday said added a net 780,000 new customers on contract-based plans from October to December, its best result in three years. It activated 8.6 million iPhones in the quarter _ a record for any company. AT&T was the first company to introduce the iPhone in 2007, and has more iPhone users than any other U.S. carrier.
Starbucks profit climbs as US cafes prosperNEW YORK (AP) _ Americans still need their Starbucks fix even in the weak economy. The Seattle-based coffee chain said its profit rose 13 percent in its fiscal first quarter, which was in line with Wall Street expectations. Results were boosted by a 6 percent increase in global sales at cafes open at least a year, a key metric of health.
Buoyed by Obama, leaders press for climate actionDAVOS, Switzerland (AP) _ Hurricanes, floods, droughts and a newly climate-conscious Barack Obama are helping boost efforts around the world to fight climate change. Top political and financial leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos say recent natural disasters, along with Obama's inauguration announcement this week that he's making the battle against rising temperatures a pillar of his second term, could rev up the glacially slow climate pact negotiations and revive fundraising for global action to cool the planet.
Apple's sales slowdown tugs Nasdaq index lowerNEW YORK (AP) _ A sharp drop in Apple's stock pulled the Nasdaq down with it after the tech giant warned of weaker sales. Other stock-market indexes eked out slight gains. Apple sank $63.50 to $430.50. With iPhone sales hitting a plateau and no new products to introduce, Apple said sales would likely increase just 7 percent in the current quarter. That's a let-down for a company that has regularly posted growth rates above 50 percent.
Cameron: I don't want a country called EuropeDAVOS, Switzerland (AP) _ British Prime Minister David Cameron wants nothing to do with a United States of Europe, an idea that's gaining currency as the countries that use the euro struggle to fix their debt crisis. But what if it's a choice between a single country called Europe or a splintered continent Cameron is determined to avoid that scary scenario.
Analysts to Apple: Bend your knee to Wall StreetNEW YORK (AP) _ Apple needs to start making nice with Wall Street, analysts said Thursday as investors hammered the company's stock. The sell-off put Apple a hair's-breadth away from losing its status as the world's most valuable company. At Thursday's close, it was worth $423 billion, just 1.6 percent more than No. 2 Exxon Mobil Corp.
Microsoft's 2Q earnings dip despite Windows 8 liftSAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ Microsoft's latest quarterly earnings slipped, even as the world's largest software maker showed modest progress adjusting to a shift away from the personal computers that have been its financial foundation for decades. The results announced Thursday are the first to include Windows 8. The program is a dramatic overhaul of the Microsoft Corp. operating system that powers most PCs. Windows 8 came out Oct. 26 with slightly more than two months left in Microsoft's fiscal second quarter.
Belkin to buy Linksys router maker from CiscoPLAYA VISTA, Calif. (AP) _ Belkin, a maker of smartphone cases and computing accessories, said Thursday that it is buying the home networking business unit of Cisco, including the Linksys router brand. Privately held Belkin, based in Playa Vista, Calif., did not disclose the purchase price, nor did Cisco Systems Inc. The deal is expected to close in March.
Practically human: Can smart machines do your job WASHINGTON (AP) _ Art Liscano knows he's an endangered species in the job market: He's a meter reader in Fresno, Calif. For 26 years, he's driven from house to house, checking how much electricity Pacific Gas & Electric customers have used. But PG&E doesn't need many people like Liscano making rounds anymore. Every day, the utility replaces 1,200 old-fashioned meters with digital versions that can collect information without human help, generate more accurate power bills, even send an alert if the power goes out.
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