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Business in brief

Mass. home heating oil drops 41 cents in month

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August 7, 2008

THE REGION
The average retail price of home heating oil in Massachusetts has dropped 41 cents a gallon since last month, to $4.30, according to the latest survey by the state Department of Energy Resources. The department in July logged home heating oil at an average price of $4.71 a gallon. (Erin Ailworth)

JetBlue to end nonstops from Hub to 2 Calif. cities
JetBlue Airways Corp. plans to disclose today that in September it will eliminate nonstop service between Boston and San Francisco and San Jose, Calif., due to rising fuel costs. These are two of the carrier's three longest routes - the third being between Boston and Oakland, Calif. Fuel for a flight between Boston and San Francisco now costs JetBlue $20,000 - or $276 per passenger - but competition makes it hard for the airline to charge profitable airfares, said spokesman Sebastian White. JetBlue's twice-daily nonstop flights between Boston and Oakland will continue after the San Francisco route stops on Sept. 3 and the San Jose trips end Sept. 16. The carrier also plans to reveal today that in December and January it will offer a second daily flight between Boston and San Juan and a once-daily flight between Boston and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. (Nicole C. Wong)

THE NATION
Economy delivers blow as Postal Service loses $1.1b
The Postal Service had a net loss of more than a billion dollars in the third quarter of the fiscal year, the agency said. For the quarter ended June 30, the loss was $1.1 billion, which officials blamed on reduced mail volume in the slowed economy, coupled with rising transport costs because of high fuel prices. Operating revenue for the quarter was $17.9 billion, down $437 million, or 2.4 percent, compared with the same period last year. Total mail volume was 48.5 billion pieces, a 5.5 percent drop from the same period last year. The agency said its fiscal 2008 year-to-date net loss totals $1.13 billion. The post office is working to deal with its losses by cutting costs. The agency has reduced its staff by about 100,000 since 2000 and is offering early retirement to some clerks, mail handlers, and supervisors. (AP)

New blind-spot mirror set for '09 Ford Edge
Ford Motor Co. said it will introduce its blind-spot mirror this fall on the 2009 Ford Edge crossover. The automaker had planned to bring the mirror to market next year but moved up the date after getting so much positive feedback, said Kelly Kohlstrand, a member of Ford's advanced product marketing and technology planning team. Ford also is in a race with General Motors Corp. to bring the technology to market. Blind-spot mirrors will be a standard feature on some versions the 2009 Chevrolet Traverse crossover, according to a GM spokesman. Kohlstrand said the mirror will be added to other vehicles in 2009. (AP)

Nationwide Financial OK's $2.4b buyout by parent
Nationwide Financial Services Inc, a provider of life insurance and annuity products, said it agreed to a $2.4 billion buyout by its parent, Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. The parent agreed to pay $52.25 per share for Nationwide Financial's class A shares, roughly 11 percent above the $47.20 per share it offered on March 10 when it first proposed the transaction. Both companies are based in Columbus, Ohio. The transaction is expected to close in late 2008 or early 2009, the firms said. (Reuters)

THE WORLD
Google unveils free music search service in China
Google Inc. said it has launched a music search service in China that allows users to access music legally online in a forum backed by some record labels and supported by advertising revenue. Paid music downloads in China are virtually nonexistent, and Apple Inc.'s iTunes digital music store is not offered there. Downloadable pirated versions of songs are widely available for free online. Google's service, called Music Onebox, directs users to Top100.cn, a site that names as an investor basketball star Yao Ming, to download or stream music for free. (AP)

Delta gets EC approval to buy Northwest Airlines
Delta Air Lines Inc. won European regulatory approval to buy Northwest Airlines Corp. to form the world's largest carrier. The move puts Atlanta-based Delta closer to its goal of closing on the Northwest merger in 2008. The airlines have 25 teams working on integration issues in the transaction, which is still being reviewed by the US Justice Department. The European Commission concluded that the airlines don't have much overlap on their trans-Atlantic passenger routes, and combining their cargo operations would have "only a limited impact" on US-European freight service. (Bloomberg)

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