National briefs: Foreign tax 1.9% for Apple

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CUPERTINO, Calif. -- Apple Inc. is paying an income tax rate of only 1.9 percent on its earnings outside the U.S.

The world's most valuable company paid $713 million in tax on foreign earnings of $36.8 billion in the fiscal year ended Sept. 29, according to a regulatory filing. Foreign earnings rose 53 percent from fiscal 2011, when the iPhone and iPad maker paid 2.5 percent income tax.

The tech giant's foreign tax rate compares with the general U.S. corporate tax rate of 35 percent.

Apple may pay some income taxes on its profit to the country in which it sells its products, but it minimizes them by using various accounting moves to shift profits to countries with low tax rates. Other multinational corporations also use such tax techniques, which are legal.

U.S. gasoline falls to $3.54

DALLAS -- The average price for regular gasoline at U.S. pumps fell 20.75 cents in the past two weeks to $3.5454 a gallon as Hurricane Sandy shut refineries and terminals in the Northeast, according to Lundberg Survey Inc.

The survey covers the period ended Nov. 2 and is based on information obtained from about 2,500 stations by the Camarillo, Calif.-based company. The decline is the steepest since December 2008. Gasoline is 42.17 cents below the year-to-date high of $3.9671 on April 6. Prices are still up 11.65 cents from a year earlier.

Dreamliner takes first flight

ON UNITED FLIGHT 1116 -- United Continental ushered in a new era for composite-plastic aircraft Sunday with its inaugural flight using Boeing Co.'s 787 Dreamliner jet.

Flight 1116 to Chicago from Houston was the first by a U.S. airline with the plane whose fuselage is made chiefly from composite materials instead of the traditional aluminum, and CEO Jeff Smisek hailed it as "the best airplane in the world."

'Cruise to nowhere' was a hit

BALTIMORE -- Families looking for a cheap getaway, friends looking to do a little duty-free shopping, couples celebrating an anniversary, and spontaneous planners able to spare sick days returned Sunday morning from a two-night stay on the Chesapeake Bay, after taking part in Carnival Cruise Line's spur of the moment deal spurred by Hurricane Sandy last week.

The sold-out cruise, called the "cruise to nowhere," held many residents from the areas -- Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania -- along the Eastern Seaboard that were spared much of the hurricane's damage.

Carnival offered the sold-out cruise from the Port of Baltimore, with prices starting at $99, after canceling the ship's planned Oct. 28 departure for a seven-day-cruise to the Caribbean.

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