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WICS Newschannel 20 :: News - Business News

Business News

Last Update on September 02, 2015 07:38 GMT

THE DAY AHEAD

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Several major economic reports are due out today. The Labor Department will release second-quarter productivity data and the Commerce Department will release factory orders for July this morning. The Federal Reserve will release its Beige Book early in the afternoon.

CONOCOPHILLIPS-JOB CUTS

NEW YORK (AP) -- Energy company ConocoPhillips says it's cutting around 1,810 jobs, or 10 percent of its workforce, following a plunge that took oil prices to their lowest levels in years.

The company says the biggest proportion of the job cuts will be in North America. ConocoPhillips plans to eliminate more than 500 jobs in Houston, where it is based.

In a news release, ConocoPhillips said it's making the cuts because the energy industry is in a "dramatic downturn."

ConocoPhillips has already eliminated 1,000 jobs this year and had 18,100 employees on June 30.

U.S. oil is trading around six-year lows because of a combination of a supply glut and weaker-than-expected growth in the global economy. Oil and gas companies have slashed jobs and cut back on spending as a result.

CRUDE OIL EXPORTS-STUDY

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A new government report concludes that removing restrictions on crude oil exports wouldn't hurt consumers at the gasoline pump, and may even help them.

The finding is providing ammunition to lawmakers seeking to pass legislation this year to end the restrictions. A Senate panel passed such a measure before Congress adjourned for its August recess. House Republicans are expected to take up the issue this fall.

The crude oil export ban includes some exceptions and was put into place nearly four decades ago as Congress responded to an oil embargo that sparked high inflation.

The report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration includes numerous caveats but found that petroleum product prices in the United States, including gasoline prices, would be either unchanged or slightly reduced by ending the restrictions.

AIR BAG RECALLS

DETROIT (AP) -- Federal regulators have lowered their estimate of potentially defective Takata Corp. air bags on U.S. roads.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says approximately 23.4 million driver and passenger air bag inflators on 19.2 million vehicles are being recalled and need to be replaced. That's lower than its initial estimate of 34 million inflators.

The agency says some air bags from multiple recalls were counted twice. Takata also included some air bags sold overseas in numbers it gave to the government.

The agency says 4.4 million air bag inflators have already been replaced.

At least eight people have been killed by Takata air bags, which can explode with too much force and spew shrapnel into the vehicle. The problem affects 11 automakers and has persisted for more than a decade.

JEEP FACTORY'S FUTURE

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) -- Union leaders in Ohio say Fiat Chrysler plant managers are telling workers that the automaker will keep production of the Jeep Wrangler in Toledo while also moving the Jeep Cherokee line out of state.

Officials with the United Auto Workers in Toledo say the announcement Tuesday that the Cherokee would be moving came as a surprise. Automotive News first reported the decision.

Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne told the publication that the company had found a solution to expand Wrangler production. Fiat wouldn't elaborate on his comments.

Auto workers and city leaders in Toledo have been on edge for months since Fiat revealed it was considering moving the Wrangler assembly line because of the cost of reconfiguring its current plant.

About 6,000 people work at the Toledo assembly complex.

HEALTH OVERHAUL-NEW TAX

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The last major piece of President Barack Obama's health care law could raise costs for thrifty consumers as well as large corporations when it takes effect in 2018.

The so-called Cadillac tax was meant to discourage extravagant coverage. But critics say it's a tax on essentials.

Studies indicate the tax will affect an increasing number of companies over time. Middle-class workers could see their benefits diminished. The tax is getting attention now because employers plan ahead for major costs.

First to go could be workplace "flexible spending accounts" that allow consumers to save by setting aside money tax-free for annual insurance deductibles and out-of-pocket costs. Those contributions could trigger the tax.

Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton says she would re-examine the tax because it might shift more costs to workers.

TARGET-CUTS

Target lays off 235 in Twin Cities tech operations

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Retailer Target Corp. has laid off about 235 employees in its technology operations in the Twin Cities.

In addition to the layoffs Tuesday, Target said it will close about 35 open positions. Another 40 people were laid off at Target's IT center in India, where it employs about 2,600 people.

The Star Tribune (http://strib.mn/1FgXacr ) reports the retailer's information technology units had largely been spared in layoffs earlier this year that affected about 2,500 jobs, or about one-fifth of the workers in the company's corporate offices in Minneapolis and Brooklyn Park.

A Target spokeswoman says the company is still hiring for a number of positions in the technology department.

With this latest round of layoffs, Target now has just under 11,000 people in its corporate offices in the Twin Cities.

UBER DRIVERS-LAWSUIT

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- A federal judge has granted class-action status to a case in California against Uber over payment of drivers.

The ruling on Tuesday increases the number of potential California plaintiffs in the lawsuit claiming Uber drivers are incorrectly classified as independent contractors when they are actually employees.

U.S. District Court Judge Edward Chen in San Francisco made his decision in the lawsuit filed by four current or former drivers for the ride-hailing company.

It raises the stakes for Uber, which could be on the hook for significantly more damages if it loses the case.

The lawsuit sought class certification on behalf of 160,000 drivers who have worked for the company in California since 2009.

The drivers say they are Uber employees and have been shortchanged on expenses and tips.

A call to Uber was not immediately returned.

AIRLINES-CONSUMER PROTECTION

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A federal panel says airlines should clearly disclose the cost of change and cancellation fees, as well as the size of the plane's seats, before a passenger buys a ticket.

The Transportation Department's Advisory Committee for Aviation Consumer Protections also said that hotels should be required to include any mandatory fees in their room rates.

Some hotels have begun adding mandatory resort and other fees to bills even though customers say they weren't informed of them when they booked their rooms. The panel's recommendation on hotels was directed to the Federal Trade Commission, which has been investigating such so called drip pricing.

Likewise, the four-member panel heard testimony that passengers must search to find the cost of change or cancellation fees that airlines hide in a ticket's fine print. The fees can run hundreds of dollars, especially on international flights. The panel said the Transportation Department should require the fees be spelled out clearly so that passengers are informed before a ticket purchase.

Business Stories

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Major business and economic events scheduled for Wednesday

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Several major economic reports are due out today. The Labor Department will release second-quarter productivity data and the Commerce Department will release factory orders for July this morning. The Federal Reserve will release its Beige Book early in the afternoon.

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