Business highlights: The top 2013 business-related topics
Hollywood struggles against new film meccas
LOS ANGELES (AP) – In the old days, filmmakers flocked to Hollywood for its abundant sunshine, beautiful people and sandy beaches. But today a new filmmaking diaspora is spreading across the globe to places like Vancouver, London and Wellington, New Zealand.
Fueled by politicians doling out generous tax breaks, filmmaking talent is migrating to where the money is. The result is an incentives arms race that pits California against governments around the world and allows powerful studios -with hundreds of millions of dollars at their disposal- to cherry-pick the best deals.
The most recent iteration of the phenomenon came earlier this month when James Cameron announced plans to shoot and produce the next three “Avatar” sequels largely in New Zealand. What Cameron gets out of the deal is a 25 percent rebate on production costs, as long as his company spends at least $413 million on the three films.
Hollywood poised for best-ever box-office year
LOS ANGELES (AP) – Despite a string of summertime flops, Hollywood is expected to have a banner year at the domestic box office, coming in just shy of $11 billion, the largest annual take ever. But because of higher ticket prices, actual attendance at North American theaters remained flat after a decade of decline.
With the current domestic box-office tally nearly 1 percent ahead of last year at this time, 2013 could surpass 2012’s overall haul of $10.8 billion by more than $100 million, according to box-office tracker Rentrak.
PINs were stolen
ATLANTA (AP) – Target said Friday that debit-card PINs were among the financial information stolen from millions of customers who shopped at the retailer earlier this month.
The company said the stolen personal identification numbers, which customers type into keypads to make secure transactions, were encrypted and that this strongly reduces risk to customers. In addition to the encrypted PINs, customer names, credit and debit card numbers, card expiration dates and the embedded code on the magnetic strip on back of the cards were stolen from about 40 million credit and debit cards used at Target stores between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15.
Security experts say it’s the second-largest theft of card accounts in U.S. history, surpassed only by a scam that began in 2005 involving retailer TJX Cos.
Gartner security analyst Avivah Litan said Friday that the PINs for the affected cards are vulnerable and people should change their codes since such data has been decrypted, or unlocked, before.
Predictions from market experts for 2014
NEW YORK (AP) – It is an understatement to say stock market investors had a good year in 2013. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index soared 29 percent, its best year since 1997. Including dividends, it gained 32 percent.
What lies ahead? The AP asked leading market analysts and investment managers where they see the Standard & Poor’s 500 index winding up by the end of 2014 and why.
GE study: No need to
expand Hudson River cleanup
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) – General Electric Co. said Friday a study requested by New York state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli shows no need for it to voluntarily expand dredging already underway in a portion of the upper Hudson River contaminated with PCBs.
GE said the scientific and legal analysis shows wildlife in the area is healthy, and any concern about the company getting hit with future liabilities for environmental damage is speculative.
DiNapoli had asked for the review in a shareholder resolution as trustee of the state pension system. He withdrew the resolution after Fairfield, Conn.-based GE agreed to the study earlier this year.
Environmentalists have long been pressing for additional dredging of contaminated sections outside the current Superfund cleanup site north of Albany.