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Business news briefs — Feb. 13


United Airlines move probed

The Ohio Attorney General’s Office said an independent auditor will investigate whether United Airlines adhered to a 2010 agreement about keeping certain flights at Cleveland’s main airport.

United is dropping its money-losing hub at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport and cutting 60 percent of its departures there. That’s expected to cost 470 jobs.

The state wants United to reconsider its decision.

The loss had been feared at the city-owned airport since United merged with Continental in 2010. The Plain Dealer reported that a complex deal struck then with the attorney general’s office required that the merged airline maintain an average of about 160 flights daily for two years.

The attorney general’s office said an auditor will determine whether United met those terms, but further details about the audit won’t be public.


Retail sales plunge in January

Retail sales fell in January by the most in 10 months as inclement weather kept consumers away from auto showrooms and stores. The 0.4 percent decrease followed a revised 0.1 percent drop in December that was previously reported as an increase, Commerce Department figures showed.

Wall Street posts gains

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 10.47 points, or 0.6 percent, to 1,829.83. The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 63.65 points, or 0.4 percent, to 16,027.59. The Nasdaq composite rose 39.38 points, or 0.9 percent, to 4,240.67. Time Warner Cable surged $9.50, or 7 percent, to $144.81 after the company agreed to be acquired by rival Comcast for $45.2 billion in stock. Comcast fell $2.27, or 4.1 percent, to $52.97.


Toyota recalls Prius vehicles

Toyota is recalling all of the 1.9 million newest-generation Prius vehicles it has sold worldwide because of a programming error that could cause their gas-electric hybrid systems to shut down.


Mexican bread deal

Grupo Bimbo, a large Mexican baking company, is crossing North America for its latest bread deal. The company agreed to buy Canada Bread, a baking company based in Toronto that is 90 percent owned by Maple Leaf Foods, for $1.67 billion.


Ohio utility can avoid refunds

American Electric Power does not need to give customers a $368 million refund for charges that were previously invalidated by a court, according to a ruling from the Ohio Supreme Court. The 5-2 decision deals with the aftermath of a 2011 ruling that AEP bills included improper charges. While consumer advocates had won that case, they got almost no remedy because Ohio law does not allow for retroactive utility refunds.

In response to the 2011 outcome, advocates and a business group pursued the case, arguing that there was a mechanism in AEP’s rates to provide refunds.

The court majority said that the plaintiffs made a mistake by not asking for the court to issue a stay on the charges at the time of the original appeal. If such a request had been granted, then AEP would not have been allowed to collect the charges until the legality of the charges could be determined. Justice Paul E. Pfeifer wrote the dissent, saying the majority’s decision is based on flawed precedent.

“It is unconscionable that a public utility should be able to retain $368 million that it collected from consumers based on assumptions that are unjustified,” he said.

Compiled from staff and wire reports



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