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Lower pay for poor is widening US income gap, study finds

WASHINGTON (AP) — The income gap in major U.S. cities goes beyond the trend of rising paychecks for those at the top: Pay has plummeted for those at the bottom.

Many of the poorest households still earn just a fraction of what they made before the Great Recession began in late 2007. Even as the recovery gained momentum in 2014 with otherwise robust job growth, incomes for the bottom 20 percent slid in New York City, New Orleans, Cincinnati, Washington and St. Louis, according to an analysis of Census data released Thursday by the Brookings Institution.


US stocks rebound a day after plunge, led by energy sector

Energy stocks led a broad rally in U.S. stocks Thursday, giving the market its biggest gain in over a month.

A recovery in crude oil prices helped put stocks into rebound mode a day after the market had its worst drop since September. Investors also welcomed some encouraging company earnings.

Chevron and Exxon Mobil each jumped about 5 percent, by far the biggest gains in the Dow Jones industrial average. It was a reprieve for the energy sector, which has been battered in recent months as crude oil prices plunged. U.S. crude oil rose 2.4 percent on Thursday.


US government developing policies for self-driving cars

DETROIT (AP) — The federal government wants to get autonomous vehicles on the road more quickly, and says it will fast-track policies and possibly even waive regulations to do it.

U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said Thursday that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will spend the next six months developing guidance for automakers on potential expectations and safety testing of self-driving prototype cars.

The agency also will develop a policy for states to follow if they decide to allow autonomous cars on public roads. That could lead to consistent national regulations for autonomous cars.


World Economic Forum warns of growing array of global risks

LONDON (AP) — The global economy faces a growing array of global risks, the largest of which is climate change, according to experts polled by the World Economic Forum, which organizes the gathering at Davos.

In a bleak assessment published Thursday ahead of next week’s meeting, the survey found that a failure to deal with and prepare for climate change is potentially the most costly risk over the next ten years, ahead of weapons of mass destruction, water crises, large-scale migration flows and severe energy price shocks.

That’s the first time that an environmental concern has topped the list of global risks of the WEF’s Global Risks Report.


Goldman Sachs to pay $5 billion in mortgage settlement

NEW YORK (AP) — Goldman Sachs has reached a $5 billion settlement as part of a federal and state probe into its role in the sale of mortgages in the years leading up into the housing bubble and subsequent financial crisis.

Goldman will pay $2.39 billion in civil monetary penalties, $875 million in cash payments and provide $1.8 billion in consumer relief in the form of mortgage forgiveness and refinancing. The settlement, announced late Thursday, was reached between Goldman and the U.S. Department of Justice, the attorneys general of Illinois and New York and other regulators.

Goldman has been one of the last banks to settle with regulators for its role in the financial crisis.


JPMorgan Chase’s earnings rise 9 percent, beat estimates

NEW YORK (AP) — Banking giant JPMorgan Chase & Co. said Thursday that its fourth-quarter profits rose 9 percent from a year earlier, helped by strong performance in its consumer banking division and lower legal expenses.

The largest U.S. bank by assets said it earned $4.91 billion, or $1.32 per share. The results topped analysts’ forecasts, who were looking for earnings of $1.26 per share, according to FactSet.

The results reflected similar themes the bank’s management have been pushing for several quarters: cutting expenses and preparing itself for bigger profits once interest rates rise further.


Best Buy reports weak holiday shopping results, outlook

NEW YORK (AP) — Best Buy’s shares sank Thursday after the nation’s largest consumer electronics chain reduced its sales outlook for the fourth-quarter as it reported weak holiday business in mobile phones and personal devices.

The Minneapolis-based company said it now expects a larger drop in fourth-quarter revenue, though the company improved its outlook for operating income. Best Buy shares tumbled almost 12 percent in morning trading.

The disappointing results underscore the challenges for Best Buy as it tries to re-energize sales growth that has been inconsistent.


Gov’t watchdog: many gaps in FDA’s oversight of drug safety

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Food and Drug Administration is speeding up its review of new drugs, yet often fails to keep track of safety issues with those medicines once they reach patients, according to government investigators.

A new Government Accountability Office report released Thursday outlines a host of shortcomings in FDA’s system for tracking drug safety issues, including incomplete, outdated and inaccurate information. At the same time, the agency is making significant use of mechanisms to streamline its reviews, especially for drugs to treat deadly diseases like cancer.

The new findings come as FDA leaders emphasize the speed and efficiency with which agency scientists can approve experimental drugs.


Southern Comfort brand sold to Sazerac in $543.5M deal

Southern Comfort’s parent company said Thursday that it is selling the iconic brand to a rival liquor company as part of a $543.5 million deal.

Brown-Forman Corp. says its Southern Comfort and Tuaca brands will be sold to Louisiana-based Sazerac.

Sazerac is a family-owned, privately held company. The deal is expected to close by March 1.


Wikipedia gets another source of cash for 15th birthday

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Wikipedia is getting another source of cash for its 15th birthday, expanding beyond fundraising drives that have already poured $250 million into the Internet’s leading encyclopedia.

The additional money will come from a new endowment created for Wikipedia, whose website started Jan. 15, 2001, and is now overseen by the nonprofit Wikimedia Foundation in San Francisco.

The Wikimedia Endowment will start with less than $1 million donated by the estate of Jim Pacha, a software engineer who died in 2014, and then build toward a goal of accumulating $100 million by 2026. Wikipedia won’t begin drawing money from the endowment after it’s fully funded.


Hyatt says 250 hotels had malware last year

NEW YORK (AP) — Hyatt said Thursday that it found malicious software in about 250 of its hotels that may have exposed customers’ credit- and debit-card numbers and other information to hackers.

It’s the first time the hotel operator has listed the hotels affected since it announced it found malware at its hotels in December. It does not know at this time how many customers were affected.

The malware was present between July and December within payment-processing systems at its restaurants, spas, front desks and other areas in its hotels.


The Dow industrial average rose 227.64 points, or 1.4 percent, to close at 16,379.05. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index gained 31.56 points, or 1.7 percent, to 1,921.84. The Nasdaq composite added 88.94 points, or 2 percent, to 4,615.

Crude oil rose 72 cents, or 2.4 percent, to close at $31.20 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, also gained 72 cents, or 2.4 percent, to $31.03 a barrel in London. In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline rose 1.6 cents to $1.068 a gallon, heating oil rose 1.1 cents to 98.1 cents a gallon, and natural gas fell 13 cents to $2.139 per 1,000 cubic feet.