Business news briefs — April 17

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New Galaxy phone to debut

Samsung Electronics Co.’s Galaxy S4 smartphone, the main challenger to Apple Inc.’s iPhone, will go on sale next week at U.S. carriers, including T-Mobile USA Inc. and Sprint Nextel Corp.

Seven U.S. carriers and seven retailers will be selling the Galaxy S4, Samsung said in a statement. T-Mobile aims to be first with the device, with a Wednesday release date. Sprint will offer the phone on April 27, while AT&T Inc. plans to make it available on April 30. Verizon Wireless, the largest U.S. carrier, said it hasn’t set a date.


Toyota hybrids hit 5 million

Toyota’s global sales of gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles have surpassed 5 million in a milestone for a technology that initially was greeted with skepticism.

The Japanese automaker, which said Wednesday it had sold 5.125 million hybrid vehicles as of the end of March, started selling the Prius, the world’s first mass-produced hybrid passenger car, in 1997.

Toyota’s hybrid vehicles now account for 14 percent of its global sales and 40 percent of its sales in Japan. Toyota sells 19 hybrid passenger car models and one plug-in hybrid, and is promising 18 new hybrids through December 2015.


Mattel profits up for quarter

Mattel Inc., the world’s largest toy maker, reported net income for the January-March quarter totaled $38.5 million, or 11 cents per share. That’s up from $7.8 million, or 2 cents per share, a year ago. Analysts polled by FactSet expected earnings of 8 cents per share.

The prior-year period’s results were weighed down by costs tied to its $680 million acquisition of HIT Entertainment, the company behind Thomas the Tank Engine and Bob the Builder.

Revenue climbed 7 percent to $995.6 million from $928.4 million. Wall Street expected $984.2 million.


Cloud competition grows

Microsoft Corp., releasing new cloud-computing services, said it will match Inc.’s lowest prices for competing products as it seeks to win business in a growing market.

Microsoft is rolling out Windows Azure Infrastructure Services, which will let customers run existing applications on servers and storage machines in Microsoft data centers, after more than nine months of testing. The company also committed to match market leader Amazon on prices for computing and storage services, even if Amazon cuts rates, said Steven Martin, general manager of Windows Azure Business Strategy.

Seventy-one percent of respondents in a Forrester Research Inc. survey said they used Amazon Web Services for cloud computing, compared with about 10 percent each for Microsoft, Google Inc. and other vendors.


Name change coming

News Corp.’s entertainment business, due to be spun off from the rest of the company in the next few months, will go by the name 21st Century Fox, giving a modern-day twist to the company’s 78-year-old film-studio brand. News Corp. reversed a previous decision to call the business Fox Group. Billionaire Rupert Murdoch, the founder of News Corp., will become chairman and chief executive officer of the new company, which will include film and television units.


Markets fall sharply

Stocks fell sharply Wednesday for the second time this week as investors continued to worry about how much the global economy is slowing.

Commodities such as oil and copper fared even worse than stocks. Government bonds were a big winner as money flowed in from investors seeking safety. That drove prices higher, and the yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to its low for the year at one point.

Technology, energy and bank stocks led the market lower. Apple dropped as traders worried about iPhone sales, Bank of America slid after its earnings failed to meet up to Wall Street’s forecasts and energy stocks fell as crude oil continued a weeklong drop.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index dropped 22 points, or 1.4 percent, to 1,553. Just one week ago the index hit an all-time high of 1,593. It’s down 2.5 percent since then.

Small-company and technology stocks did worse than the overall market.

The Nasdaq composite fell the most of the major indexes, 1.8 percent. It lost 59.96 points to 3,204.67. Apple, which makes up 8 percent of the index, slumped 5.5 percent to $402.80, after a supplier hinted at a slowdown in iPhone and iPad production.

Compiled from staff and wire reports

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