Business briefs: U.S. stocks gain as economic reports trump rate concerns

March 21, 2014 

NEW YORK -- U.S. stocks rose Thursday for the third time this week as reports on leading indicators and regional manufacturing fueled optimism in the economy, overshadowing concern that interest rates may rise in the middle of next year.

Microsoft gained 2.7 percent after Morgan Stanley said the company's anticipated Office software for Apple's iPad could deliver $1.2 billion a year in billings. AT&T jumped 3.4 percent to lead a rally in phone stocks. Guess slipped 3.4 percent after its full-year earnings projection trailed analysts' predictions.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 0.6 percent to 1,872.01. The Dow Jones industrial average added 108.88 points to 16,331.05. About 6.4 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, 3.2 percent less than the three-month average.

Chew on this: Gum loses its marketing pop

NEW YORK -- Gum seems as appealing as that sticky wad on the bottom of a shoe these days.

It's not that Americans still don't ever enjoy a stick of Trident or Orbit, the two most popular brands. They just aren't as crazy about chomping away on the stuff as they once were, with U.S. sales tumbling 11 percent over the past four years.

No one in the industry can pinpoint a single factor that's causing the decline -- the theories include an unwillingness to shell out $2 or more for a pack in the bad economy or that advertising veered too far from underlining gum's cavity-fighting benefits. But the biggest reason may be that people simply have more to chew on.

From designer mints to fruit chews, candy companies have invented plenty of other ways to get a sugar fix or battle bad breath and anxiety.

11 percent of long-term unemployed find jobs

WASHINGTON -- A new study found that of Americans who have been unemployed for more than six months, just 11 percent of them will ever regain steady full-time work.

The findings by Princeton University economists show the extent to which the long-term unemployed have been shunted to the sidelines of the U.S. economy since the Great Recession.

During any given month from 2008 to 2012, barely more than one in 10 of the long-term unemployed had found full-time work. Their troubles were similar in states with high as well as low unemployment rates.

Starbucks to roll out beer, wine to more cafes

NEW YORK -- Starbucks plans to turn more of its cafes into a destination for beer and wine in the evenings. The coffee company says it is looking to expand alcohol sales to thousands of stores over the next several years. The chain first offered beer and wine at one of its Seattle cafes in 2010. This is now available in 26 cafes, with plans to reach 40 by the end of the year.

It is part of the company's push to boost sales after the morning rush hour when people are getting their caffeine fix.

--Herald wire reports

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