Business Digest: Austin-area gas prices hold steady this week


FUEL

Austin-area gas prices hold steady this week

Austin-area gas prices were unchanged this week, according to auto club AAA Texas.

The average local price for a gallon of regular gasoline stayed put at $2.09, according to AAA Texas. The price this week is 24 cents more than the same week last year, when the average price per gallon was $1.85, according to AAA Texas data.

Gasoline prices have remained little changed over the past few weeks, AAA said, due to lower driving demand and “an oversupplied market as a result of increased U.S. production.”

For Texas as a whole, the average price was unchanged at $2.11 per gallon this week, according to AAA Texas. The national average rose by 1 cent to $2.30 per gallon, according to AAA data.

MERGERS & ACQUISITIONS

DuPont, Dow push back merger date

WASHINGTON — DuPont and Dow have once again postponed their proposed $62 billion merger, saying they expect the deal to close in August.

The chemical giants’ merger has already been pushed back several times, as regulatory agencies in the U.S. and abroad scrutinize the deal. When DuPont and Dow announced the merger in December of 2015, they expected it to close in the first half of 2016.

The latest delay comes as DuPont finalizes the sale of its crop protection business to FMC Corp. to meet European Commission requirements. The European Union approved the deal Monday, but it remains under review in the U.S.

Once merged, DuPont and Dow plan to spin off into three public companies, one focusing on agriculture, one on material science and one on specialty products.

TECHNOLOGY

Oculus co-founder Luckey leaves Facebook

Palmer Luckey, the co-founder of Facebook’s Oculus virtual-reality business, is leaving the company.

Facebook didn’t give a reason for Luckey’s departure.

Luckey, who is 24, is leaving Facebook in the heels of controversies. This year, a federal jury found that Oculus, Luckey and co-founder Brendan Iribe violating the intellectual property rights of video-game maker ZeniMax Media. The jury awarded $500 million in damages, including $50 million from Luckey.

Luckey was also criticized for a donation of $10,000 to a pro-Donald Trump group called Nimble America, which created offensive memes online during the 2016 election season.

Facebook bought Oculus in 2014 for $2 billion. Oculus makes the stand-alone Rift virtual-reality headset along with the Gear VR headset for Samsung.

ECONOMY

China factory index hits 5-year high as economy heats up

HONG KONG — China’s factory activity ticked up again last month to its highest level in five years, according to an official survey released Friday, in a fresh sign that the world’s No. 2 economy is picking up steam.

The index based on a survey of purchasing managers climbed for a second straight month in March to 51.8, its strongest level since April 2012, from 51.6 in the previous month.

The PMI by the Chinese Federation of Logistics and Purchasing is based on a 100-point scale, with numbers above 50 indicating expansion.

The report’s measures of production and new orders expanded at a faster pace in China’s key manufacturing sector, which is a major part of the broader economy employing many millions of workers churning out electronics, clothes and toys for export.

Factories stopped shedding staff for the first time in five years, as the report’s employment sub-index rose to 50, the first time it has not been in contractionary territory since May 2012.

Chinese manufacturing and trade with the U.S. will be on the agenda when U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on April 6-7 in Florida. Trump, who accused China of unfair trade practices during his campaign, tweeted Thursday that the meeting would be “very difficult.”



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