Grand Canyon biz ending free package deliveries by mules, and more news

2013-04-11T00:00:00Z Grand Canyon biz ending free package deliveries by mules, and more newsFrom Wire Reports From Wire Reports Arizona Daily Star
April 11, 2013 12:00 am  • 

ARIZONA

Grand Canyon to cut back on mule-delivery service

Grand Canyon National Park's South Rim concessionaire is ending a free service which had mules haul packages into the canyon, typically goodies for river runners stopping at Phantom Ranch.

Xanterra says its mules will still haul letters and postcards to river runners for free but that too many packages went unclaimed after sitting for weeks at Phantom Ranch.

John Streit of Xanterra says the company will work with boaters and others to haul urgently needed equipment or supplies. He says there's been little pushback from river runners.

The Arizona Daily Sun reports that Monday is the last day before the restrictions begin.

Scottsdale council ends ban on ice-cream trucks

Scottsdale will allow ice-cream trucks for the first time in decades after the City Council adopted an ordinance regulating them.

By a 5-2 vote Tuesday night, the council unfroze the controversial ban on ice-cream trucks dating to the 1970s.

A city ordinance will allow mobile dessert vendors starting on May 9 but will impose strict regulations on the trucks.

The proposal met some resistance from residents who fear the ice-cream trucks would lead to more strangers on city streets and accidents involving children.

NATION

Unemployment rates fell February in most big cities

Unemployment rates fell in more than 80 percent of large U.S. cities in February from January.

The Labor Department says rates fell in 311 of the nation's 372 largest metro areas, including Tucson, where the rate dropped to 6.7 percent from 7.3 percent, and Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale, whose rate fell to 6.7 percent from 7.2.

Nationwide, employers added 268,000 jobs in February, the most in a year. That pushed down the unemployment rate to 7.7 percent from 7.9 percent. But hiring slowed sharply last month, when employers added 88,000 jobs.

Research firm: PC sales plunge as Windows 8 flops

Microsoft's Windows 8 software appears to be driving buyers away from PCs and toward smartphones and tablets, research firm IDC said Wednesday. That's leading to the fastest drop in PC sales the firm has ever seen.

Global shipments of PCs fell 14 percent in the first three months this year, IDC said. That's the sharpest plunge since the firm started tracking the industry in 1994.

The report comes after a year of bad news for the PC. Consumers, especially in wealthy countries like the U.S., are steering their dollars toward tablets and smartphones rather than upgrading their home PCs. It's the biggest challenge to the personal computer since the IBM PC was released in 1981.

Budget deficit for March grew by $106.5 billion

WASHINGTON - The U.S. federal budget deficit grew more slowly in March than the previous month, keeping the annual spending shortfall on pace to finish below $1 trillion for the first time in five years.

The deficit grew by $106.5 billion in March, well below the $203.5 billion added in February, the Treasury Department said Wednesday.

Through the first six months of the year, the deficit has reached $600 billion. That's smaller than the $779 billion racked up in the first six months of the 2012 budget year. The budget year began on Oct. 1.

ConocoPhillips drops 2014 Arctic drilling plan

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - ConocoPhillips Alaska announced Wednesday it will not drill in Arctic waters off Alaska's northwest shore in 2014.

Environmental groups hailed the decision and said the experience of Royal Dutch Shell PLC in 2012 demonstrated that oil companies are not prepared to drill in the fragile Arctic environment.

ConocoPhillips said uncertainties of evolving federal regulatory requirements are the reason for backing off.

US banks' net incomes seem to be fading

NEW YORK - The six biggest U.S. banks are projected to post a 35 percent increase in first-quarter profit. That may fail to prolong an 18-month rally in their shares as the firms struggle to boost revenue.

The banks are set to report $19.9 billion in combined net income, analysts' estimates compiled by Bloomberg show, with New York-based JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Wells Fargo & Co. first to announce results on Friday. Revenue will climb just 2.2 percent, the data show. Since the end of 2011, the six banks' shares have closed the gap with analysts' price targets, signaling a possible end to the stock surge.

SeaWorld seeks $540M in IPO after rejected bids

SeaWorld Entertainment is seeking as much as $540 million in a U.S. initial public offering after owner Blackstone rejected takeover bids for the aquatic theme park operator.

The Orlando, Fla.-based company and existing owners will offer 20 million shares, a 22 percent stake, for $24 to $27 apiece, according to a regulatory filing. The midpoint would value SeaWorld at $3.98 billion including net debt, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

WORLD

EU warns of imbalances in Spain, Slovenia

BRUSSELS - The European Commission turned up the heat on Spain and Slovenia Wednesday, warning that the two struggling countries are facing "excessive" problems fixing their economies, while France's government came under pressure to get its debt under control.

The Associated Press; Bloomberg News

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