Southwest Airlines says planes back in air

A Southwest Airlines, the discount carrier forced to ground 43 planes for inspections Wednesday after admitting some of its aircraft missed required checks for cracks, said Thursday that all of its airplanes are back in the air and operations are normal.

“Southwest anticipates a normal operation on Thursday morning,” the airline said in a statement. “Any repairs identified as a result of these reinspections will be made before those aircraft are returned to service.”

Southwest is the No. 1 carrier at McCarran International Airport, serving about 40,000 passengers a day at the airport.

The airline had been fined $10.2 million by the Federal Aviation Administration for flying 46 planes without fuselage inspections last year. The fine is the largest filed against a carrier.

Southwest’s stock rose 1.83 percent Thursday, or 21 cents, to close at $11.70.5.

AOL agrees to pay $850 million for Bebo

AOL stepped up its bid to boost traffic and advertising opportunities worldwide as the struggling Internet company agreed Thursday to pay $850 million for the online hangout Bebo and a foothold in the growing arena of social media.

Although Bebo remains in the shadow of MySpace and Facebook, it is strong in some foreign markets, including Britain. According to comScore, its audience outside the United States is engaged, spending more time on average there compared with the leading rivals.

AOL executives say they are planning to tap that engagement to drive traffic to AOL’s other free, ad-supported Web sites, especially internationally, while leveraging AOL’s instant-messaging communities, AIM and ICQ, to try to grow Bebo in the United States.


Game maker EA’s offer turns hostile

The heat is on: Electronic Arts’ $2 billion bid for “Grand Theft Auto” maker Take-Two Interactive Software turned hostile Thursday as EA took its $26-per-share offer directly to Take-Two shareholders.

The tender offer expires on April 11, more than two weeks before the latest “Grand Theft Auto” hits store shelves.

New York-based Take-Two has rejected the bid since late February, calling it the wrong price at the wrong time.


Treasury prices fall after S&P statement

Treasury prices plunged Thursday after Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services said financial firms may be nearing the end of write-downs of subprime asset-backed securities.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury note gave up gains to close down 0.62 points at 99.72 with a yield of 3.53 percent, up from 3.44 percent late Wednesday, according to BGCantor Market Data. Prices and yields move in opposite directions.

The 30-year long bond dropped 0.94 points to 98.66 with a yield of 4.46 percent, up from 4.40 percent.

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