Business Briefs – June 19, 2016

Orlando Tourism: No Mass Cancellations Now But Future Unsure

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) – Experts say it’s too soon to gauge whether a week of horrific news out of Orlando will hurt tourism there. But travel agents are not seeing widespread cancellations, and many travelers say they’re committed to visiting.

Orlando has been rocked in the past week by three events: the mass murder of 49 people, as well as a 2-year-old killed by an alligator at a Disney World resort lagoon, and another fatal shooting. It remains to be seen whether the bad news will shake Orlando’s status as the top tourist destination in the United States, with 66 million visitors in 2015.

U.S. Home Construction Down Slightly in May

WASHINGTON (AP) – Construction of new homes nudged down slightly in May, with builders pulling back in the Northeast and Midwest.

Housing starts ticked down 0.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.16 million units, the Commerce Department said Friday. The government’s residential construction report can be volatile on a monthly basis, which might explain the slight decrease.

Home construction has improved much of this year, with single-family houses accounting for much of the gains unlike recent years when developers focused more on apartments.

Viacom CEO’s Tenure May Be Up Soon After Board Shake-Up

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman may not have much time left at the entertainment conglomerate.

National Amusements, the theater company through which Sumner Redstone controls both Viacom and CBS, said Thursday that it has replaced Dauman and four other directors on Viacom’s 11-member board.

The shake-up comes as lawyers battle over whether Redstone, 93, is mentally competent to run the multibillion-dollar New York-based media companies Viacom Inc. and CBS Corp.

U.S. Investigation of Lumber Liquidators Comes to a Close

NEW YORK (AP) – Federal regulators have closed an investigation of Lumber Liquidators after the company agreed not to resume sales of Chinese-made laminate flooring.

The company stopped selling the Chinese-made laminate flooring last year, a couple of months after a news report said it contained high levels of the carcinogen formaldehyde.

The U.S. Consumer Production Safety Commission said late Thursday that Lumber Liquidators tested the air quality in 17,000 households and none had formaldehyde above guidelines. Customers who installed the Chinese-made flooring should not rip it out, the CPSC said. Instead, they can call Lumber Liquidators to have their air tested.

Patent Dispute Could Block Apple’s iPhone 6 Sales in Beijing

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Apple is embroiled in a patent dispute in China that threatens to block future sales of the iPhone 6 in Beijing unless the company can overturn a regulator’s recent ruling.

The potential ban stems from a decision issued last month by the Beijing Intellectual Property Office. The agency found the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus infringed on a patent for the exterior design of a smartphone called the 100C made by a Chinese company, Shenzhen Baili.

Apple Inc. is still being allowed to sell both of the affected iPhone models while it appeals the ruling to an intellectual property court in China.

Putin Calls On Europe to Improve Ties Despite Sanctions

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) – Russian President Vladimir Putin called on European leaders Friday to heal ties with his country despite sanctions after meeting with European investors who said they want to expand their businesses there.

Speaking at Russia’s top economic conference, Putin said top German and French investors expressed interest to invest more in Russia despite the weight of the sanctions, some of which the European Union extended just as Putin was speaking.

He stressed that Russia’s ban on EU foodstuffs and other retaliatory measures were imposed “in response” to the EU sanctions.