Trial date set in airline-merger case
WASHINGTON A federal judge said Friday that the government’s lawsuit to block the proposed merger of American Airlines and US Airways will start Nov. 25, a timetable favored by the airlines. The U.S. Justice Department had wanted the trial to start in March, saying it needed more time to prepare for the complex case. The airlines said that such a long delay would threaten their merger. U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly said in court Friday that March was “too far off.” The companies were close to completing a merger to create the world’s biggest airline, but the Justice Department and six states sued this month to block the deal. They said it would reduce competition and lead to higher prices for travelers.
More legal maneuvering in BP oil spill
NEW ORLEANS BP is trying to persuade a federal appeals court that it should throw out a judge’s approval of the company’s multibillion-dollar settlement related to the Gulf oil spill if a separate appeal is unsuccessful. Last year, BP joined plaintiffs’ attorneys in urging U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier to give the deal his final approval. On Friday, however, the company’s lawyers argued in a court filing that Barbier’s more recent interpretation of settlement terms have allowed businesses to receive hundreds of millions of dollars for inflated or fictitious claims. In July, BP asked a three-judge panel from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn Barbier’s rulings governing business payouts. BP says it would still support Barbier’s approval of the settlement if that separate appeal is successful.
Apple taking trade-ins on old phones
LOS ANGELES Excited about the new iPhone expected to be unveiled Sept. 10? Apple will now join others in allowing you to trade in your old model. The company said starting Friday that it would give customers credit for functioning older models at Apple Stores. The credit can be used toward the purchase of a new iPhone, which will be activated in the store. It didn’t say how much older phones would be worth. But other brokers such as Gazelle.com offer anywhere from $10 for a working iPhone 3G to $350 for an iPhone 5 that is in pristine condition. Similar trade-in programs are run by retailers including Best Buy, Target and Radio Shack.
GE planning an IPO for its consumer lending division?
A published report says General Electric plans to spin off the consumer lending business of its finance arm with an initial public offering of stock that could come early next year. The Wall Street Journal also says the Fairfield, Conn., conglomerate is considering smaller spinoffs or asset sales, but it has started preliminary work on the IPO. The paper cites unnamed sources it says are familiar with the matter. The consumer finance business provides store credit cards for retailers like Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
Consumer confidence slips
WASHINGTON A measure of U.S. consumer confidence slipped this month from a six-year high in July, as Americans expressed less optimism about the coming months. The University of Michigan says that its final reading of consumer sentiment dropped to 82.1 in August from 85.1 in the previous month. Americans said they were less confident that the job market will improve but more confident that their income will rise. Even with the decline, the index is nearly 8 points higher than a year ago, suggesting consumer spending could pick up later this year.
The Associated Press contributed.