– Auburn bottling operation closes down, 23 jobs lost

A Pepsi bottling operation in Auburn has closed, putting 23 people out of work.

A Pepsico spokesman told WMTW-TV that the company closed its bottling facility on Monday, but 86 sales and warehouse employees will continue to work out of the facility.

The business began in the 1920s as Seltzer and Rydholm and was sold to Pepsi in 2004.

Verizon to pay $78 million in fines and refunds

Verizon Wireless has agreed to pay a fine of $25 million and at least $52.8 million in refunds to customers who inadvertently racked up data charges on their phones over the last three years, federal regulators said Thursday.

The Federal Communications Commission said the fine is the largest in its history.

To forestall action by the FCC, Verizon Wireless said earlier this month that it would issue refunds, mostly of $2 to $6, to about 15 million subscribers. It didn’t give a total value for the refunds.

As IPO nears, GM to cut obligations by $11 billion

General Motors Co. has moved to strengthen its finances ahead of an initial public stock sale, announcing plans on Thursday to cut debt and pension obligations by $11 billion.

The automaker, whose IPO is expected next month, will lighten its debt load by paying back money owed to taxpayers, company retirees and a health care trust. It will pay for the moves mainly with its stockpile of cash, which now totals about $24 billion.

The $11 billion reduction includes paying back $2.1 billion owed to U.S. taxpayers. It also includes paying $2.8 billion to a United Auto Workers health care trust and putting $6 billion in stock and cash toward its pension plans, which are underfunded by roughly $27 billion.

Microsoft tops forecasts; net income up 51 percent

Microsoft Corp. said Thursday that its net income in the latest quarter rose 51 percent, boosted by higher sales of Windows and Office software.

In last year’s quarter, Microsoft deferred some revenue from Windows sales. Had it not done so, net income would have been only 16 percent higher this year in comparison.

For the fiscal first quarter, which ended in September, net income rose to $5.4 billion, or 62 cents per share, from $3.6 million, or 40 cents per share, in the same period last year.

Revenue increased 25 percent to $16.2 billion, from $12.9 billion a year ago.

Microsoft beat Wall Street’s expectations on both counts.

Foreclosure warnings up sharply in Chicago, Seattle

The foreclosure crisis intensified across a majority of large U.S. metropolitan areas this summer, with Chicago and Seattle — cities outside of the states that have shouldered the worst of the housing downturn — seeing a sharp increase in foreclosure warnings.

California, Nevada, Florida and Arizona remain the nation’s foreclosure hotbeds, accounting for 19 of the top 20 metropolitan areas with the highest foreclosure rates between July and September, foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac Inc. said Thursday.

Those states saw housing values surge in the housing boom years. When the boom ended, values collapsed and foreclosures soared.

But the latest data show that many of the metro areas in those states saw a decline in the number of households receiving foreclosure-related filings, while many cities in other states saw a spike in foreclosure activity.

In all, 133 out of 206 metropolitan areas with at least 200,000 residents posted an annual increase in foreclosure activity in the three months ended Sept. 30, RealtyTrac said.

— From staff and news services