News In Brief

MID-DAY UPDATE: Fiat ups stake in Chrysler, fast food sees a boost

Katharine Crnko Apr 21, 2011

Here are today’s top headlines from the Marketplace Morning Report and from around the web.

The Italian automaker Fiat is boosting its financial stake in Chrysler up to 46 percent. Fiat wants to take a controlling stake in Chrysler this year — just as the Michigan-based carmaker is set to turn a profit for the first time since entering bankruptcy back in 2009.

The number of people filing for first time jobless benefits dropped last week to 403,000. The numbers have been bouncing up and down right around that level for several months.

A private research group says its measure of future economic activity rose 0.4 percent in March, the ninth straight monthly increase.

Earnings season continues this morning with results from General Electric. The company beat expectations with a quarterly profit more than 70 percent higher than in the same quarter last year. GE is focusing more on its industrial business and less on its financial arm, GE Capital.

Southwest Airlines said it eked out a $5 million profit last quarter. With fuel spending up 26 percent over last year.

Morgan Stanley said first-quarter profit dropped nearly 50 percent, hurt by a decline in bond trading.

McDonald’s reported a higher quarterly profit Thursday as the world’s largest restaurant company appeared to put more distance between itself and many smaller U.S. restaurant chains.

JetBlue Airways met analyst expectations in a volatile cost environment, swinging to a quarterly profit despite sharply higher fuel prices.

Verizon Communications posted strong first-quarter growth in wireless subscribers helped by sales of the Apple iPhone.

Yum brands — parent to KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell — said first quarter profit was up 10 percent. Stores in China are pushing higher sales. But Taco Bell said fewer people ate at their stores because of a lawsuit over its beef.

Citigroup said it had done nothing wrong after Greece launched a probe into market rumors about an imminent restructuring of the country’s sovereign debt that had hit Greek bank stocks.

Qualcomm said net earnings in its latest quarter were up thanks to smartphone sales.

The federal government still owns part of Chrysler — one of many companies that were bailed out after the financial crisis. Perhaps the most famous being the insurance giant AIG. There’s word this morning that the government may not make as much money as it tries to sell shares of AIG back to investors. The company’s stock price has fallen 25 percent in the last three months. It remains above the price the Treasury Department paid for it but just barely.

British oil giant BP has filed suit against its oil rig partners Transocean and Halliburton, saying negligence contributed to last year’s Gulf of Mexico oil disaster.

For the first time in about 130 years, visitors to the Ohio State Fair will be able to buy alcohol at the event. But visitors will only be able to buy Ohio-produced beer and wine with grapes grown at state vineyards. Officials say that’s gonna give a big boost to sales, especially for that under-appreciated vintage Akron Pinot. And Cleveland’s astoundingly unknown Cabernet.

It’s not just Silicon Valley giving us new technology. Convenience store chain 7-Eleven will introduce some exciting new slurpee technology this summer. According to USA Today, 7-11 is rolling out slurpee cups with dual chambers, a special valve and two straws. The idea is that the two slurpee flavors in the cup won’t touch each other until the instant before they reach your tongue. Who says we’re falling behind in math and science?

A robot threw out the first pitch last night at the Phillies-Brewers baseball game in Philadelphia. The mechanical hurler — known simply as PhillieBot — is the creation of a couple of University of Pennsylvania students. But PhillieBot didn’t have a glowing debut. It only managed a 40 mile an hour bouncer that came up short of home plate. And the Phillies fans booed him.

You can read the rest of today’s stories from the Marketplace Morning Report here.

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