Business Tidbits

Gasoline Prices Get Early Start on Spring Surge

NEW YORK (AP) – Gasoline prices are getting an early start on their annual spring march higher.

The average U.S. retail price rose 13 cents over the past two weeks to $3.42 per gallon, and within a few days it will likely set a record for this time of year.

The culprits: rising crude oil prices, slowing output at refineries that are undergoing maintenance, and low supplies of gasoline.

U.S. Challenges Deal to Merge Budweiser and Corona

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Justice Department filed a lawsuit Thursday to stop Anheuser-Busch InBev’s proposed $20.1-billion purchase of Mexican brewer Grupo Modelo, which would bring together the owners of popular beers like Budweiser and Corona.

The government said the deal could lead to higher beer prices here because it would substantially reduce competition in the U.S. beer market, particularly in 26 metropolitan areas. It said the merged firm would control nearly half the beer sales in the U.S.

Anheuser-Busch InBev promised a court fight to preserve the deal.

Obama Decides Not to Extend Term of Jobs Council

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Barack Obama is letting his jobs council expire, cutting off one source of input from business leaders while unemployment remains stubbornly high.

Obama formed the Council on Jobs and Competitiveness in January 2011, when unemployment was about 9 percent. It’s now 7.8 percent, though more than 12 million people are out of work.

Obama’s executive order establishing the council said it would go out of business Jan. 31, 2013. The White House said Thursday that Obama had no plans to renew its charter.

Global Growth Boosts MasterCard 4Q Net Income

MasterCard’s net income rebounded strongly in the fourth quarter as its overseas business continued to expand, the company said Thursday.

The results benefited by comparison to the year-earlier quarter, which was weighed down by a massive legal charge.

Net income in the three months ended Dec. 31 rose to $605 million, or $4.86 per share, from $19 million, or 15 cents per share, a year earlier.

Net revenue rose 10 percent to $1.90 billion. MasterCard continued to grow by most measures. It processed 20 percent more transactions than a year ago, including 17 percent higher cross-border volumes.

ANA to Seek Damages From Boeing for 787 Woes

TOKYO (AP) – Japan’s All Nippon Airways is prepared to recoup from Boeing whatever damages it suffers from flight cancellations and other costs caused by the worldwide grounding of 787 jets, a senior executive said Thursday.

All Nippon Airways Co.’s chief financial officer said the airline was focused on investigating the cause of the 787 battery problems, and it was not yet in damage negotiations with Boeing Co. He also said efforts were focused on minimizing flight disruptions and revenue losses by using other aircraft.

ANA, the biggest customer for the Dreamliner with 17 of the jets in its fleet, canceled 459 domestic and international flights this month, resulting in about 1.4 billion yen ($15.4 million) in lost revenue. It is unclear when the aircraft will be cleared by regulators to fly again.