FAA investigating Southwest over baggage weight data – CNN

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nx3c!– Rubicon Project Ad Tag –x3en

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Airbus Beluga XL spreads its wings at long last – CNN

(CNN) — It’s almost here.

One of the aviation world’s most hotly anticipated planes, the Airbus Beluga XL, has just completed a key round of testing at Hawarden Airport in Wales, ahead of entering service later this year.

At a time when jumbo passenger airliners such as the Airbus A380 and Boeing 747 are on their way out, the Beluga XL — the first of five — will be one of the biggest beasts in the skies.

You won’t be able to ride in it, though. This is a super-transporter cargo plane, designed by Airbus to fly its aircraft components between European production sites and its final assembly lines in Toulouse, Hamburg and Tianjin.

Modified A330

The Beluga XL is the successor to the Beluga, or Airbus A300-600ST, which has been in operation since 1995.

Starting with an A330 airliner, Airbus engineers lowered the flight deck and grafted a huge cargo bay onto the fuselage to create this unusually shaped plane.

Through an upward-opening forward hatch on the “bubble,” completed aircraft wings, fuselage sections and other components easily slide in and out.

The XL’s bubble is six meters longer and one meter wider than the original, meaning its cross-section is a whopping eight meters wide.

Putting the ‘fun’ in functional

The plane’s distinctive bulbous shape has earned it the nickname “the flying whale,” due to its strong resemblance to the white-colored Arctic-dwelling mammal, the beluga.

The XL’s twinkly-eyed, smiling-faced livery capitalizes on this. The whimsical design was chosen by Airbus staff following a poll in which 20,000 employees were given six options and asked to choose their favorite. With 40% of the vote, it was the clear winner.

“We used to say that in Toulouse or in Hamburg, the kids recognize the Beluga,” Bertrand Grosse, head of the Beluga XL program, tells CNN Travel. “They love this very special plane.”

However, the design is functional as well as cute. The enormous cargo bay is large enough to carry two A350 wings at a time (the old Beluga could transport only one), and the whale-like nose improves the craft’s aerodynamic efficiency.

Nature, after all, perfected the beluga whale and, explains Grosse, “flying in the air is a little bit like swimming in the sea.”

Pilot training

So how does one go about steering a machine like this through the skies? Well, says Grosse, despite the plane’s unusual appearance, “for the pilots this is really an A330. Our pilots will be trained on the A330 and then they will get a Delta qualification to enable them to fly the Beluga XL.”

While you might think the aircraft would run slower, “the drag is about the same,” says Grosse. “What changes really is the behavior of the aircraft at the rear, at the bottom of the cargo bay.

“This is why we have lifted the vertical tail plane by more than two meters to get it out of the flow behind the cargo bay and we have also the special acceleration on the horizontal tail plane to give stability to the aircraft.”

The Beluga XL is powered by two Rolls-Royce Trent 700 engines, which, as with its wings, are also used on the A330.

Preparations for a very special guest

Airbus manufactures its wings in a large factory at Hawarden Airport.

The facility has undergone special modifications for the arrival of the Beluga XL, such as creating two sets of doors for the Beluga Line Station — one to fit the Beluga and one to fit the Beluga XL.

Airbus also resurfaced the landing strip, erected blast fences (to safely redirect the engines’ high-energy exhaust) and installed new turn pads — necessary for when the Beluga XL turns around on Howarden’s relatively short runway of around 1,600 meters.

Plane-lovers from across the UK gathered in Wales to see the arrival of the Beluga XL on Thursday, and again to see it depart for Toulouse, France, on Saturday.

“This plane is, I would say, iconic for our company,” Grosse tells CNN Travel. “This is the workhorse for Airbus. So it is more than a plane. It is what enables Airbus to build aircraft every day.”

Tamara Hardingham-Gill and Howard Slutsken contributed to this report.

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Berkshire’s Revealing 13F: Buffett Didn’t Buy The Dip – Didn’t Add To Apple, Sold Oracle, Bought Banks – Seeking Alpha

Gregory (Scotland Yard Inspector): “Is there any other point to which you would wish to call my attention?”

Holmes: “To the unusual incident of the dog in the night-time.”

Gregory: “The dog did nothing in the night-time.”

Holmes: “That was the curious incident.”

“Silver Blaze,” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The 4th quarter 13F filing for Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A)(BRK.B) was made available to the public on February 14. It was a particularly interesting filing as it neatly captured more or less the exact period of the brief mini-bear which dominated equity markets for the last quarter of 2019. I have to say I was almost holding my breath while waiting to see Buffett’s buys and sells.

I had one hopeful expectation and one fear. I hoped and expected that Buffett would add to his bank positions. That turned out to be the case. I feared that he might add strongly to his position in Apple (AAPL), which I don’t entirely agree with. He did not. In fact, an action by one of his younger associates walked back Berkshire’s Apple position by about 1%. I have to say that I wouldn’t have minded if Buffett had sold a bit too, but I’m at least relieved that he didn’t buy more.

Neither banks nor Apple was the real story. It was easy to come up with the headline: BUFFETT DIDN’T BUY THE DIP. The market was down 20% for about a day, but Buffett didn’t bite on it. The net buying in Berkshire’s portfolio of publicly traded stocks was minuscule – less than $1 billion despite the fact that the cash available was more than $100 billion. That doesn’t mean that Berkshire’s 13F filing was dull and without significance. To the contrary, Buffett’s inaction was like the dog that didn’t bark – a “curious incident” indeed.

The silence of the dog in the Conan Doyle story reveals the correct solution of the case – the valuable racehorse had been taken out of the stable by someone the dog knew, namely the trainer. Had it been a stranger, the dog would have barked. For a similar reason, the extremely light buying in Berkshire’s portfolio speaks volumes and provides a rare and privileged glimpse of Buffett’s true opinions.

The net-net number was so small that I had to confirm it myself. I made two columns, sources of funds and uses of funds, wrote down the tickers symbols and numbers, and added them up. The total buys and total sells were within a single billion of being equal. That was by far the most important fact revealed in the SEC filing. Only then did I look closely at what the buys were and what the sells were.

You looked in vain if you hoped to see that Buffett had thrown money at stocks in a way that made you comfortable that the bear market had produced a valuation he considered attractive. As I have written in several recent pieces, Buffett is not a market timer. He is, however, a value timer. It’s unavoidable. He buys when and where he perceives good value and a high probability of solid returns over the long term. Although he rarely nails tops or bottoms exactly, his value-based action (or inaction) often provides important insight about the future prospects of the market.

That’s the main thing in this very important filing, and it comes in two parts. What he didn’t do was meaningful. If you believe most parts of the market are overpriced, his inaction gave your view some support. If you thought that despite the market as a whole there was a sector which provides value, the details of his actions might serve to confirm or challenge your view.

Buffett Knows Banks, And Continues To Like Them

Banks are the most mistakenly maligned sector of the market, and as a result of that they probably present the best risk/reward opportunity available in the current market. I own a bunch of them: Wells Fargo (WFC) going far back in my investing history, then U.S. Bank (USB) which I have also held for some years, and finally Bank of America (BAC) and JPMorgan (JPM) which go back only to the middle of 2016 with subsequent adds. Even the latter two have more than doubled from my initial buys despite a weak 2018. They are still cheap and I would buy more tomorrow except that I am already very heavily overweight. In fact, I recently came pretty close to another add, and I don’t rule out adding if there’s another middle-sized drawdown.

Naturally, I am interested whenever I get an indication from Buffett on views and commitments of my own. While his overall action in Q4 2019 was neutral, it’s hard to read his view of the banks as anything but wildly bullish. JPMorgan was his largest percentage add in the quarter, and Bank of America was first in absolute numbers and fourth in percentage terms. Bank of New York Mellon (BK) was fifth in percentage terms. What’s not to like in a bank with a uniquely conservative business model (its custodial business), was founded by Alexander Hamilton, and has functioned successfully for 235 years. It has been on my potential buy list for a few years.

Buffett also added substantially to PNC Financial (PNC) and US Bank. Somebody at Berkshire – probably not Buffett – increased by 58% the position in Travelers (TRV) which had been established in Q3. Though not a bank, TRV as a property/casualty insurer is another financial with sensitivity to rates and a buyback story which is similar to that of the banks and has a long history of elevating per share earnings by reducing share float.

Note that Buffett didn’t get cute about it. He bought the big banks. He needs scale and they have scale, and with banks there happens to be an advantage to scale. The big banks have more diversified income streams and better resources to plan for the future and innovate. An example of this is JPMorgan’s newly announced blockchain initiative. It’s not as if smaller local banks have a greater growth opportunity. They don’t.

Buffett’s purchases of bank stocks swamped all other buys. What most investors will find strange is that Berkshire was already heavily weighted in banks, and many internal units of Berkshire are financials. No diversification afforded by adding to banks. On the other hand, diversification is a double-edged sword. It reduces one sort of risk – the risk of a heavy hit to a single industry – but efforts to diversify can take an investor out of the circle of competence (more on that later). There are probably no two people who have a better understanding of banks than Buffett and Charlie Munger, although you might add Jamie Dimon as a third.

Banking is a simple business, taking in money and lending it out profitably while being sure they have reserves sufficient to withstand market disruptions or an economic downturn. They get a bad rap right now because they were at the center of the last huge crisis, but the truth is that they are strong in the broken places and well-supervised. Branded consumer stocks are overpriced and under heavy attack in the marketplace and the FAANG stocks are overpriced and under equally heavy attack from political critics. You can’t hide from risk anywhere these days.

The second big negative storyline on banks is that they need higher rates to do well. It’s one of those large memes that is true as far as it goes but probably not helpful to investors. Higher rates with a steeper yield curve might well be good, but they are not essential. The large banks can presently return almost all their free cash flow to shareholders. With a price earnings ratio of about 10 that means they can give you a dividend of 2-3% and use buybacks to manufacture high single-digit annual growth in per share earnings even if the overall increase in cash flow is zero.

Read that line again, and do the math on what happens to earnings per share with an annual reduction in share float of 7%. And gross earnings won’t stay flat forever. Going out four or five years, average growth in gross bank earnings will probably be mid-single digits. That adds up to a 15% return, more or less, with relative safety and consistency. I get up every morning, look at my bank-heavy portfolio, and wonder why everybody doesn’t see what I see. Clearly, Warren and Charlie do. Banks are way, way cheaper than the market and they have way, way better prospects for growth in earnings. They also, believe it or not, have below average risk.

Buffett just sent you a memo which includes things he can’t quite say in public – namely that he doesn’t much like the overall market at these prices, but he still thinks banks represent good value and will book for you big time over the next five or ten years.

Sorry now to have to bring up Apple.

At Least Buffett Didn’t Buy More Apple

There’s nothing inherently wrong with owning a moderate amount of Apple. It has a lot of good projects in the works. You can make a case for the importance of its services and the magical things its devices can bring to healthcare. OK, I get that. Some of my tennis students (including my wife) check out their overall health status every five minutes or so on their Apple watches. On the other hand, who knows if China will ever again work right.

And the iPhone. Somebody on the inside must have seen that coming. As for me, I’m the sort of old-fashioned dude who might eventually buy another Mac. However I got this one cleaned up earlier today – that’s the Mac I’m currently typing on – and even though it’s at least seven or eight years old, there’s no visible moment in the future where my life would be improved by buying another one.

The real problem with Apple is that it was founded by a creative genius. It has the genius problem. What’s nice is to be a doctor or lawyer or banker or even a tennis pro, get up every morning, do your job, work fairly hard, collect your paycheck, and kick back and enjoy life. What’s hard is to be a writer, a painter, an inventor, or the CEO of Apple where you have to get up every morning and try to be a genius. I’ve tried it both ways and I can tell you one thing about making your way in the world by being a genius: being a genius is hard!

Your job description is that from time to time you have to reinvent the whole world. Maybe one person in ten thousand succeeds. Maybe. Ditto companies. Apple’s entire history has been a lumpy series of creative explosions, and after each one there has been a painful period of paralyzing doubt and terror for fear that there will never be another one.

Will there be? Probably? Maybe? I’ve thought about it and realized I have no idea. I believe whatever is contained in the last article I read. Even the experts on tech and products built around tech hit on some and miss on some. Somebody will always prove to have been right after the fact. Apple will probably do decently, at least, for some time. And they have tons of cash and can use it creatively or buy back stock to manufacture earnings. There’s definitely a case to be made for Apple, but I have a lot more conviction about the case for the big banks. You don’t have to be a genius to be a banker.

I have just one problem with Buffett and Apple. His position sizing was terrible. I think he may have begun to realize that last quarter. That would explain his very dramatic response to the 35% sell-off in Apple: he did nothing. There’s nothing wrong with owning some Apple. I’m willing to own some through Berkshire, although I wish my indirect Apple holdings were a little smaller. I just think that Buffett got a little carried away. He was eager to diversify and get himself into the modern world. He told himself a story. You could tell yourself Apple had a first-mover moat with the benefit of a great brand. That let him think he had a way of understanding it. He noticed that they had wonderful products. That’s true. I’m typing on one of them right now.

Last quarter Apple had an accident which may have reminded him of something he learned with a previous tech company. It wasn’t enough to make him sell, but it was enough to stop him from buying more even at a suddenly lower price. I would be happy to see Berkshire’s Apple position shrink to about 4% of Berkshire’s market cap instead of 8%.

I wonder if Buffett is now thinking more or less the same thing.

Berkshire Buybacks And The Overall Market

So what was going on with Berkshire’s $100 billion plus in cash? Possibly nothing at all, but I think there is a good chance he bought back quite a bit of Berkshire’s own stock. One hint was that his number two guy, Ajit Jain, the in-house genius on risk, bought about $20 million for his own portfolio in December. That helped tip the scale for me on December 24. Buffett’s thinking might have been along these lines: nothing else in the market is cheap except the banks, and I’ve already got a boatload of them, but my own company is pretty cheap too, well diversified and well run, and I certainly know a lot about it.

Given that he couldn’t go out and buy another industrial company with predictable earnings growth he could increase the percentage of his own company that its shareholders own and be confident of the value that they were receiving. It’s presumptuous, I know, to put thoughts into Buffett’s head but that’s what reading a 13F is about, isn’t it?

So let me take the big step back and project some larger Buffett thinking. The key takeaway from this 13F filing is that Buffett wasn’t impressed by the 4th quarter mini-bear. The market didn’t fall enough to create major across-the-board value. He believes there will be more attractive prices at some time in the future, perhaps even the near future, and he expects to find opportunities to buy stocks and perhaps make an acquisition before too long.

Some Mini-Messages From The Oracle And His Minions

There are quite a few mini-takeaways from the 13F filing, starting with Oracle (ORCL). Berkshire dumped it. That’s good, I think. I don’t claim to know anything about tech, but I personally stick to one principle. Buying jazzy tech companies is hard enough. It gets harder when they are on the down side of the slope? It’s a low probability play to buy yesterday’s hot and high-powered tech. Unlike the rest of the world, I guess, I don’t like Oracle even as a dividend stock.

Airlines also came in for a trimming. Airlines prosper in a sweet spot where the economy is hot enough to fill their seats but not so hot as to run up the cost of fuel so that their costs kill them. Berkshire’s airline trims suggest that Buffett may think that though they look cheap, they are now exiting that sweet spot. There were major trims of Southwest (LUV) and United Continental (UAL). That tells you something of how Buffett and his associates feel about airlines and may provide another glimpse at how he views the economy.

His younger associates still seem to be struggling to find broad areas of the market which they command – which can define their circle of competence, as Buffett would put it. There are a few interesting developments, though. There’s the payment industry in which Todd Combs appears to be gaining confidence, shown in the 13F with the add of the Brazilian financial tech company StoneCo (STNE). Somebody also bought Suncor (SU), the Canadian tar sands company which will pick up the chips when all the other oil in the world runs dry. Sort of kidding there, but Suncor is a high-cost producer. That’s usually bad news, but when oil is up a lot Suncor’s high cost means cash flow has a lot of leverage. Does a Suncor buy align with an airline sell?

One of the understudies obviously likes Travelers a lot. Somebody likes Red Hat (RHT), which I can’t evaluate, and somebody also bought all those Liberty tracking stocks. What that looks like is an emerging understanding of and affection for the kind of financial engineering which has worked for Mario Gabelli and Joel Greenblatt. It’s a good area for smart guys willing to do a lot of careful homework. Gabelli has shown that it can work on a fairly large scale. That could be an interesting circle of competence for the future.

Conclusion

This piece is in part about a way to read quarterly 13F filings of master investors – people like Buffett or Seth Klarman. I don’t really read them to find ideas. I do read them to see if my thinking about the economy and the markets, value, and sectors is aligned with theirs. If their views are contradictory to mine, I give serious thought to where I might be wrong. In this case, I think Buffett’s specific actions align pretty closely with my thinking and my portfolio, and I feel equally positive about what I read between the lines. I invite you to look at this SA article reviewing my portfolio written in December.

To summarize, Buffett did very little net buying in the 4th quarter of 2019 – less than in Q3. His biggest buy was JPMorgan. That reinforces my view of JPM and the bank area in general. On December 24 – the date of the recent low – I decided to make a buy about an hour before the market close. It went down to the last ten minutes with my finger on the trigger twice before I chose Berkshire over JPM. I had even written in a previous article that JPM was probably the next thing I would buy. It still is.

Berkshire seemed not quite as cheap, but safer because of its internal diversification. We’ll see at the end of next week whether Buffett actually did a major buyback of his own stock. The pleasant surprise was that he did not add to Apple while one of his minions actually trimmed. Apple is not a bad company, but Berkshire’s position size strikes me as wrong.

All in all this was the most interesting and revealing Berkshire 13F filing I have ever read. It’s the first I have found interesting enough to write about. Next week we will have the Annual Report and Annual Shareholder Letter. We’ll learn the answer on Berkshire buybacks and probably get an anecdotal version of Buffett’s market view and rationale for the banks.

After that we’ll have the Monday morning interview with Becky Quick. I have already set the time aside because I expect the new information next weekend to be both interesting and important. I will probably be moved to do another piece giving my take on the Annual Shareholder Letter and interview after a few days to let it all sink in. After that I hope the next Buffett news worth writing about is a major acquisition.

Please comment, ask questions, and punch holes. I enjoy the comment stream.

Disclosure: I am/we are long BRK.B, JPM, USB, BAC, TRV. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

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GM to invest $36M at Lansing Delta plant to build crossovers – The Detroit News

Lansing — General Motors Co. plans to invest $36 million at its Lansing Delta Township Assembly plant to fund production of popular crossover vehicles. 

GM currently builds Chevrolet Traverses and Buick Enclaves at the plant. The announcement comes as the Detroit automaker plans to shut down production in early March at its facility in Lordstown, where it builds the Chevrolet Cruze. The automaker is pulling unprofitable products out of multiple plants this year ahead of the 2019 contract negotiations with the United Auto Workers.

The investment announced Monday is meant to fund a mid-cycle update to the Traverse and Enclave. The automaker, like its other U.S. competitors, is transitioning its vehicle lineup to include more crossovers and SUVs as U.S. consumers turn away from sedans. 

GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra has made multiple visits to U.S. plants since the start of the new year. Just more than a month ago, the automaker said it will spend $22 million at its plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee, to build new engines there. 

Barra said in Lansing on Monday that she meets with employees at the plants when she visits, and those employees often offer ideas to improve production at the facilities. Barra said that though no job increase is planned as part of the $36-million investment, the automaker is monitoring demand for the crossovers built at the Lansing facility and could add a shift in the future.

Lansing Delta currently runs two full shifts with overtime. 

“If we see an ability to add another shift that’s sustainable, that’s something that we would definitely consider,” Barra said. “The best way that we can work on increasing jobs is to have a strong-selling product.”

More: New 2020 Acadia is first GMC crossover to join AT4 lineup

United Auto Workers Vice President said Terry Dittes said in a statement the union encourages further upgrades at plants. “We in the UAW look forward to more investments like this from General Motors so they can build where they sell,” he said.

Lansing Delta is GM’s newest plant in the U.S. The automaker said it has built 2 million crossovers at the facility since 2006. 

The plants GM plans to idle this year all build sedans or small cars. The automaker has job openings around the country for all but 100 of the 2,800 factory workers at the plants that will be idled, though those jobs aren’t always nearby. Meantime, the automaker began in February laying off 4,250 salaried employees. 

Barra said Monday that those layoffs were “largely completed,” and the company is moving forward now.

“It’s about making sure people understood why we made the difficult decisions, and now moving forward,” she said. “And that’s what everybody’s committed to do.”

GM is continuing to “explore options” for its Lordstown plant, Barra said Monday, though the automaker is moving forward with plans to “unallocate” product from the facility on March 1. 

ithibodeau@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @Ian_Thibodeau
 

Read or Share this story: https://www.detroitnews.com/story/business/autos/general-motors/2019/02/18/gm-investing-36-million-dollars-lansing-delta-plant-build-crossovers/2906216002/

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NC officials, biotech company AveXis announce expansion – WRAL Tech Wire

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – State and local authorities on Monday announced a plan by a bio-tech company that calls for creating new jobs and the expansion of the firm’s presence in Research Triangle Park.

North Carolina Commerce Secretary Anthony Copeland joined local dignitaries and other officials at the North Carolina Biotechnology Center for the announcement of the expansion plan by AveXis, a gene-therapy firm.

“We are very happy to be a partner in this project,” said Wendy Jacobs, chairwoman of the Durham Board of County Commissioners. “AveXis is a growing company in RTP.”

The company is vying for state incentives of over $1 million.

The company said it also plans to invest $60 million over the next two years to expand its RTP presence and bring more jobs to the Triangle and RTP.

Jacobs said the company’s expansion will translate into 200 new jobs, and some of them will have starting wages of nearly $73,000 a year.

The development could mark a turning point for the Triangle’s recent streak of losing big projects, including efforts to recruit Apple and the Amazon to the area.

The new jobs announcement may heal some of the damage done to North Carolina’s reputation as a leading contender for technology-related jobs projects.

Google’s $13B expansion plan skips North Carolina

Wake County continues to land expansions and new jobs, according to the Wake County Economic Development.

Since October, Wake says the county has secured 44 new and expansion projects.

These are expected to create nearly 4,000 jobs and generate $227 million in investment.

And the potential project list is not short.

According to its latest report, Wake County says 32 projects have been reviewed since October.

These represent more than 3,600 jobs and a potential investment overall of $1.2 billion.

Additionally, the county says it has hosted nine “client visits.”

The county remains under consideration for 42 projects worth more than $3.3 billion.

If Wake lands them all, the projects would mean more than 6,700 jobs.

North Carolina reiterates Apple ‘remains active recruitment project’

One of those projects could be a new campus for Apple. A company linked to Apple has acquired land in RTP.

The Triangle has been reported as a leading contender since January of last year for a $900 million Apple campus and several thousand related jobs.

However, Apple’s most recent list of expansion projects didn’t include North Carolina.

That omission followed Amazon’s decision to take its HQ2 project elsewhere rather than the Triangle.

Last week, Google unveiled a series of major new projects, none of which were listed in North Carolina.

And last summer the US Army bypassed the Triangle for a new headquarters.

Will the streak of major announcements end today?

Charlotte, meanwhile, has also landed several projects and thousand jobs in recent months.

So the economic development project appears to be strong overall – even if the big names continue to just say “no” to North Carolina.

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Toyota Prius C Will Soon Say See Ya – Motor1.com

Prepare to say farewell to the Toyota Prius C because the hybrid hatchback is nearing retirement. If buyers want an electrified daily driver, then the larger, more fuel efficient 2020 Corolla Hybrid (gallery below) arrives to take over that role in Toyota’s lineup.

“You’re probably not going to see Prius C for long,” Ed Laukes, Group VP of Toyota Marketing, told Motor1.com during a drive event for the new Corolla. “The Prius C has served its purpose well.”

Introduced in the United States for the 2012 model year, the Prius C expanded the Toyota range by offering buyers a smaller, less expensive hybrid model than the larger Prius. Power came from a 1.5-liter four-cylinder running on the Atkinson cycle and an electric motor with a total combined output of 99 horsepower (74 kilowatts). A minor refresh for the 2015 model tweaked the front end and added LED high beams. Another slight update for 2017 resculpted the vehicle’s face again and made the Safety Sense-C safety suite standard equipment.

The new Corolla Hybrid goes on sale in spring 2019 and shares a powertrain with the current Prius. A 1.8-liter four-cylinder and two motor-generators have a total output of 121 hp (90 kW). A nickel-metal hydride battery is underneath the rear seat and doesn’t affect the cabin or cargo space. A smart differential routes power to the left and right wheels at low powertrain loads but acts as an open differential at higher loads.

Fuel economy for the 2020 Corolla Hybrid is already available from the EPA. It gets 53 miles per gallon city and 52 mpg highway for a combined rating of 52 mpg. For comparison, the 2019 Prius C gets 48 mpg city, 43 mpg highway, and 46 mpg combined.

Details about the 2020 Corolla Hybrid’s price aren’t yet available but expect the info to arrive closer to its launch.

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Arapahoe Basin Ski Area, Vail Resorts end pass partnership; VR announces new ‘Keystone Plus Pass’ – Summit Daily News

Light shines on Arapahoe Basin Ski Area’s East Wall as seen on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018.

Arapahoe Basin Ski Area announced Monday it will not continue its pass partnership program with Vail Resorts next season.

In a statement announcing the news on its website, officials with A-Basin pointed to “a pinch on parking and facility space” as a reason for the breakup.

“Due to these constraints,” the statement read, “Arapahoe Basin believes its staff can take better care of its guests by separating from Vail Resorts.”

“With diverse ski runs including some of the most intense terrain in North America and a culinary operation that is regularly listed among the top 10 in the country, the ski area has developed a very special community that feels like home,” A-Basin chief operating officer Alan Henceroth wrote. “In order to continue to build on this spirit and the experience we have created, Arapahoe Basin and Vail Resorts will not be renewing their pass partnership for the 2019/2020 season.”

The announcement cited the growth both in popularity and skier visitation the ski area has seen after investing 40 million dollars over the last 15 years. On his A-Basin blog, Henceroth provided more explanation behind A-Basin’s perspective on the end of the partnership, and also said although there is that pinch on parking and facility space, the mountain “still has plenty of room for skiers and riders.”

“Looking forward,” Henceroth wrote, “we strive to provide ready and easy access for our guests. Our goal is to minimize waiting and crowding and maximize experiences and fun.”

The COO added that currently the ski area has no new partnerships to announce, however, in the coming months A-Basin will be discussing opportunities with several resorts and resort groups.

“Skiers and riders that call A-Basin home can feel good knowing the resort will still offer tremendous value and exceptional mountain experiences,” Henceroth continued on his blog. “These actions are designed to preserve that special culture and vibe people expect when they choose to spend a day at The Basin. The future for Arapahoe Basin is very bright.”

The COO also clarified that the 2018-19 Vail Resorts season passes will remain valid at A-Basin for the remainder of the 2018-19 season.

Vail Resorts announces new ‘Keystone Plus Pass’
Shortly after A-Basin announced the end of the partnership, Vail Resorts released its own statement announcing the “Keystone Plus Pass,” a new option to replace the Keystone A-Basin Pass.

In its statement, officials with Vail Resorts said the new pass will provide unlimited access to Keystone Resort with holiday restrictions, unlimited late spring skiing at Breckenridge Ski Resort starting April 1 and five days at Crested Butte, with holiday restrictions. The pass will have a starting price of $369 for adults and $259 for kids. The Keystone Plus Pass will go on sale when Epic Pass products launch in spring 2019.

The Keystone A-Basin Pass has historically been a popular choice among Summit County locals and transient skiers alike as a reasonably priced pass (less than $400) that provides an ability to ski and ride not only at the two destinations located just miles from one another, but also night skiing at Keystone.

Vail Resorts also announced that beginning next season, all of the company’s unlimited season pass products will include 10 buddy tickets, which is an increase from the six previously offered on the Epic Pass, Epic Local Pass, Summit Value Pass. Buddy tickets are daily lift tickets offered at a flat discounted rate for friends and family of pass holders. This will be included with the Keystone Plus Pass, Tahoe Local Pass, and Tahoe Value Pass when purchased before the customary April deadline.

“We are excited to offer a new pass that provides skiing and riding from mid-October through Memorial Day at Keystone and Breckenridge, at an incredible value,” said Kirsten Lynch, chief marketing officer for Vail Resorts, in the statement. “We want to thank Arapahoe Basin for their partnership for over 20 years. We are disappointed but given the success they have had and their recent investments into the resort, we respect that this is the right time for them to move in a different direction.”

In its release, Vail Resorts also pointed to how it is positioning for both Keystone and Breckenridge resorts to offer “one of the longest ski and snowboard seasons in the country.” In recent months, Vail Resorts announced capital investments into Keystone Resort’s snowmaking that the company hopes will help position the resort to be the first to open in the U.S. The company also announced that, pending U.S. Forest Service approval, Breckenridge Ski Resort will annually extend winter seasons through Memorial Day, extending its season by more than a month.

Historically, along with Loveland Ski Area in neighboring Clear Creek County, A-Basin has been the first or one of the first ski areas to open in the country. It also typically stays open later than most any other resort in the country.

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Key Investors Are Unhappy With SoftBank Tech-Investment Fund – The Wall Street Journal

The two biggest outside investors in the $100 billion Vision Fund are complaining about the high prices the fund’s manager, SoftBank Group Corp., has paid for tech companies and the control wielded by SoftBank Chief Executive Masayoshi Son over investment decisions.

The investors, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, or PIF, and Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Investment Co., have contributed almost two-thirds of the Vision Fund’s pledged capital. If they are unhappy with the fund, it could become more difficult for Mr. Son to raise…

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London markets lose ground from last week’s surge; Reckitt Benckiser jumps 5% – MarketWatch

London markets were down on Monday, losing some of the advances made last week, with trading volumes potentially lower due to a U.S. holiday.

Investor concerns remain over trade negotiation progress between the U.S. and China. Meanwhile, consumer goods company Reckitt Benckiser Group PLC surged after posting results.

How are markets performing?

The FTSE 100

UKX, -0.24%

closed down 0.4% to 7,219.47, after finishing last week with a gain of 2.3%—the largest three-week point and percentage gain since July 15, 2016.

Meanwhile, the pound

GBPUSD, +0.2637%

rose to $1.2927 from $1.2892 late in New York on Friday.

What’s driving the markets?

U.S.-China trade negotiations will continue in Washington this week, fueling some hope that the two nations will soon reach a deal. However, investors are still concerned about the progress made on difficult issues such as Washington’s dissatisfaction over Chinese technology and trade policies.

U.S. markets will be closed on Monday for the President’s Day holiday.

Read: Everything you need to know about market closures on Washington’s Birthday

What shares were active?

Reckitt Benckiser Group PLC

RB., +4.64%

jumped over 5% after the consumer goods company announced a surge in annual revenue and profit after “broad-based growth” across key brands.

In banking, Barclays PLC

BARC, -0.87%

lost 0.9% after one of its biggest shareholders Tiger Global PLC reportedly sold its $1 billion stake in the U.K. bank. This can “hardly be described as a vote of confidence ahead of the release of its full year results later this week,” said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets U.K.

Results from other U.K. banks are also expected to land this week, including Lloyds Banking Group

LLOY, -0.21%

 , which lost 0.2% on Monday and HSBC Holdings PLC

HSBC, +1.01%

HSBA, -0.33%

 which dropped by 0.3%.

Meanwhile, Miners Fresnillo PLC

FRES, +1.07%

gained 1% and Antofagasta PLC

ANTO, +0.57%

added 0.5%.

U.K.-listed chemical company Johnson Matthey PLC

JMAT, +0.58%

rose by 0.6%.

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