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Chase buys MSC Industrial shares; other business briefs


Chase buys 4 million MSC shares

Banking giant JPMorgan Chase has bought nearly four million shares of MSC Industrial Direct Co., Long Island's seventh-largest company by revenue. In a Securities and Exchange Commission filing Thursday, Chase noted it had purchased 3,990,632 common shares, or an 8.2 percent stake, on behalf of clients. The filing said the purchase wasn't intended to exert control over the Melville company. MSC distributes industrial tools and supplies. The company's stock jumped up nearly 4 percent to close at $79.22 a share in New York Stock Exchange trading. -- Carrie Mason-Draffen


Southwest Airlines earnings fall

Southwest Airlines Co. said Thursday fourth-quarter earnings fell by nearly half as costs rose for fuel, labor and maintenance. The airline's revenue climbed slightly, however, as the average fare increased almost $8 from a year ago. Although the rate of airfare increases has slowed since 2011, fares are still going up, partly because airlines are limiting the number of flights, making seats more scarce. Southwest expects the industry as a whole to run about 1 percent to 2 percent fewer flights in early 2013 than in the same period last year. Dallas-based Southwest, the nation's fourth-biggest airline, will consider cramming more flights into the busier middle of the day and reducing daily flights on some routes that aren't profitable enough.

Warren Buffett bet looks good

Billionaire Warren Buffett's bet that a Standard & Poor's 500 index fund will outperform a collection of hedge funds over 10 years is starting to look good at the halfway point. Buffett made the bet in 2008 to reinforce his argument that average investors would be better off investing in low-cost index funds instead of paying hefty fees to investment managers. Fortune magazine reported Thursday that Buffett's index fund pulled ahead in 2012. He made the wager with the money managers who own Protege Partners Llc a few months before the recession began in 2008. After gaining 15.96 percent last year, Buffett's index fund now posts a total gain of 8.69 percent. Buffett picked Vanguard's S&P 500 Admiral index fund, available to large investors, for the bet. The Protege hedge funds recorded a 2012 gain of 6.46 percent. Over five years the hedge funds have a 0.13 percent gain.


BMW, Toyota work on batteries

Toyota Motor Corp. and BMW Group are working together on next-generation "lithium-air" batteries for green vehicles as their collaboration, first announced in late 2011, moves ahead. The Japanese and German automakers aim to complete a fuel-cell vehicle system by 2020, and a concept for a mid-size sports vehicle by the end of this year. They will also work together on developing lightweight materials such as composites, which will help make cars greener. Joint research will be started to develop a lithium-air battery, which will be more powerful than the current lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles, they said. The technology, which other automakers are also working on, allows a major part of the battery's energy-making process to come from the oxygen in air.

Global tea growers form forum

The world's top tea-growing nations have formed the first-ever international forum of tea producers, aiming to make their product the most popular beverage globally and also to ensure price and production stability. The International Tea Producers' Forum was established by the six major growers -- India, Kenya, Indonesia, Malawi, Rwanda and Sri Lanka. Together, they produce more than 80 percent of the world's black tea. The tea producers met this week in Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka.-- AP

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