Business Briefs – June 13, 2016

Microsoft to Buy Networking Site LinkedIn for $26.2 billion

NEW YORK (AP) – Microsoft said Monday that it is buying LinkedIn for about $26.2 billion, a deal that could bring subtle but significant changes for the professional network’s more than 430 million members.

LinkedIn will remain an independent unit of Microsoft. It will keep its name, and current CEO Jeff Weiner will stay on and report directly to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.

Airlines Race to Cuba, Overcoming Major Hurdles

HAVANA (AP) – Galo Beltran stands on the tarmac testing a hand-held baggage scanner. The device, which is used to track luggage, is deployed at airports across the world. But until this moment, Beltran wasn’t sure if it would work on Cuban cellular networks.

As satisfying as meeting that challenge was, there are hundreds more to be tackled as U.S. airlines prepare to resume their first regularly scheduled flights to Cuba in five decades. And solutions need to be found rapidly — airlines must start flights within three months of being granted a route by the U.S. government.

Apple Makes Siri Smarter, Rolls Out Software Improvements

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Apple is working to make its gadgets smarter, by building more artificial intelligence into its digital assistant, maps and other online services.

At a time when sales of its flagship iPhone are slowing, Apple seemed determined to show that it can make its gadgets indispensable, or at least as useful as its competitors’ products.

High Court Rules Against Puerto Rico in Debt Case

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Supreme Court ruled Monday that Puerto Rico can’t restructure more than $20 billion in public debt as it tries to overcome a decade-long economic crisis. The 5-2 ruling said that federal bankruptcy law bars Puerto Rico from enacting its own law to restructure the debt of its financially ailing public utilities. The U.S. territory must wait for Congress to pass debt-relief legislation.

Trafficking Allegations Against Fedex Head To Trial

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Two giants — the U.S. government and FedEx — are set to do battle in a federal court over the explosive claim that the shipping company knowingly delivered illegal prescription drugs from pill mills to dealers and addicts, some of whom died.

Fedex has denied the charges and says it only shipped what it believed were legal drugs from licensed pharmacies. Opening statements are scheduled to start Monday.

Goldman Sachs Dips Toe Into Consumer Banking

NEW YORK (AP) – Goldman Sachs is now open to the general public. And its interest in the average American appears to be mutual as thousands of consumers have flocked to its new retail banking service.

The company bought GE Capital Bank’s online deposit platform in a deal that closed in April.

GS Bank, as it is now known, remains fairly simple with an online-only format for establishing savings accounts and investing in CDs. But its rates are competitive — offering above 1 percent for online savings accounts when many others pay less.

China Auto Sales Growth Accelerates In May to 5-Month High

BEIJING (AP) – China’s auto sales growth hit a five-month high in May, driven by the popularity of SUVs, an industry group said Monday. Sales rose 11 .3 percent over a year earlier to 1.8 million vehicles, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. Total vehicle sales, including trucks and buses, rose 9.8 percent to 2 million units.

Interest Rates Fall At Weekly US Treasury Bill Auction

WASHINGTON (AP) – Interest rates on short-term Treasury bills fell in Monday’s auction with rates on three-month bills falling to the lowest level in five weeks.

The Treasury Department auctioned $31 billion in three-month bills at a discount rate of 0.270 percent, down from 0.285 percent last week. Another $26 billion in six-month bills was auctioned at a discount rate of 0.400 percent, down from 0.430 percent last week.

The three-month rate was the lowest since three-month bills averaged 0.240 percent five weeks ago on May 9. The six-month rate was the lowest since those bills averaged 0.370 percent on May 16.