SC business notebook, Nov. 1

10/31/2013 8:07 PM

10/31/2013 8:08 PM

Obama casting net for foreign companies

President Barack Obama wants to step up government efforts to draw foreign companies to the U.S. Obama argues the American workforce, cheaper energy costs and an improving economy make the U.S. an attractive home for investment. He’s proposing to coordinate business promotion efforts that have been left mostly to states and cities, which have to compete against foreign countries to attract foreign investors. Obama says, “America is becoming more competitive from a business standpoint.” Obama spoke Thursday at the SelectUSA 2013 Investment Summit, a project of the Commerce Department aimed at foreign businesses. A new White House economic report says direct foreign investments in the U.S. totaled $166 billion last year. The report says most of that comes from a small number of industrialized countries.

Airline passengers can now use electronic devices, except cellphones, gate to gate

Airline passengers won’t have to “turn off all electronic devices” anymore – they’ll be able to read, work, play games, watch movies and listen to music from gate to gate under new guidelines from the Federal Aviation Administration. But they still can’t talk on their cellphones through the flight. Don’t expect the changes to happen immediately, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said Thursday at a news conference announcing new rules. How fast will vary by airline. Delta and JetBlue said they would quickly submit plans to implement the new policy. Airlines will have to show the FAA that their airplanes meet the new guidelines and that they’ve updated their flight-crew training manuals, safety announcements and rules for stowing devices to reflect the new guidelines.

Boeing to increase 737 production in Renton, Wash., in 2017

Boeing Co. said Thursday that in 2017 it will increase the rate of 737 production in Renton, Wash., to 47 single-aisle jets per month, more than 560 per year. The rate now is 38 jets per month, already an all-time high. The rate increase will come just as the newest 737 model, the 737 MAX, enters service. Boeing will begin building the first MAX in 2015, and the first delivery is planned for the third quarter of 2017. Beverly Wyse, Boeing’s 737 program vice president and general manager, said the move is aimed at meeting increased demand from airlines.

Facebook to limit news feed ads

Facebook will limit news feed advertisements that have driven revenue gains and said younger teens aren’t using its website as much as they used to. Even so, shares of the world’s most popular social- networking service rose Thursday after some analysts released reports citing improved profitability in the third quarter and Facebook’s potential to raise ad prices, as well as sales that topped analysts’ estimates as marketers spent more on ads targeting smartphone and tablet users. CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been building features that make it easier for advertisers to reach consumers. He’s seeking to strike a balance by making sure members aren’t annoyed by marketing pitches while they check posts, pictures and other updates from their friends, even as Facebook aims to generate more ad revenue with higher prices and boost its user base of more than 1 billion.

The Associated Press and The Seattle Times contributed.

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