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Today in business: 5 things you need to know
GE and McDonald's scare investors, SeaWorld's IPO is a big hit, and more in our roundup of the business stories that are making news and driving opinion
McDonald's stock dropped by 2.2 percent.
McDonald's stock dropped by 2.2 percent. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

1. WALL STREET DIGESTS WARNING SIGNS FROM GE
Investors got a fresh barrage of disappointing news early Friday, as a trio of corporate giants — General Electric, McDonald's, and IBM — warned of weakening sales in the coming months as they reported first-quarter earnings. GE reported solid profits in the first three months of the year, but cut its expectations for the next quarter due to such stumbling blocks as weakness in Europe and declining sales of wind turbines. GE's stock fell by 3.7 percent, and McDonald's dropped by 2.2 percent in early trading. IBM took the hardest hit, with its shares tumbling by 6.6 percent. The woes of the three bellwethers came as lukewarm economic data has been fueling fears that the recovery lost a bit of steam in March, and weighed down the Dow Jones Industrial Average at the start of the day. [Reuters]
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2. TOYOTA BRINGS SOME LEXUS PRODUCTION TO U.S.
Toyota announced Friday that it is moving some production of its luxury Lexus ES sedans to a plant in Kentucky. The change should bring about 750 new jobs to the facility, which already produces Camry, Camry Hybrid, Avalon Hybrid, and Venza models. At the moment, Toyota doesn't build any Lexus vehicles in the U.S. The Japanese automaker plans to start Lexus production at the Kentucky plant in 2015, adding 50,000 to the number of vehicles produced there. The company says it's investing $360 million at the plant. It's also getting as much as $145 million in tax incentives to bring Lexus production to the state. [CNN, Forbes]
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3. SEAWORLD'S IPO IS A BIG HIT
Shares of SeaWorld Entertainment soared by 16 percent on Friday as the company's stock made its debut on the New York Stock Exchange. And that's after SeaWorld priced the initial public offering of its stock at the top of the expected range, raising $702 million. The theme-park operator's owner, Blackstone Group, turned down takeover offers from Apollo Global Management LLC (APO) and Onex Corp, after determining that, over time, selling off stock and holding onto the company would be more lucrative. The IPO price put SeaWorld's value at $2.5 billion. [Bloomberg]
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4. DREAMLINER GROUNDING EXPECTED TO END
Boeing stock rose Friday as investors anticipated an announcement from regulators that they would end the three-month grounding of the aircraft maker's new 787 Dreamliners. Two insiders said the Federal Aviation Administration could announce as soon as Friday afternoon that the high-tech aircraft had been cleared to fly again after an investigation into overheating batteries and other glitches and a fix devised by Boeing. "The go-ahead is imminent but the timing still has to be finalized," says one source close to the matter. [Reuters]
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5. APPLE KEEPS SIRI INFORMATION FOR TWO YEARS
Apple, facing pressure from privacy advocates, told Wired that it keeps anonymous records of the commands iPhone users give Siri for up to two years. When users speak to the voice-activated personal digital assistant, it sends data to Apple, which generates a random number to represent the user and accumulates data linked to this number — not any user ID, email address, or other identifying information. That, Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller says, prevents the information from being linked to any specific iPhone customer. [Wired]

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at TheWeek.com. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami HeraldFox News, and ABC News.

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