Struggle continues on Southwest website

The crash of Southwest Airlines' website stretched through a second day, leaving many customers unable to book flights during a big fare sale. Southwest blamed the meltdown on heavy traffic from the sale, which it extended by one day, to midnight on Friday night, giving frustrated customers more time to buy tickets. On Thursday afternoon, some customers trying to book flights online got a message telling them that part of the website "is undergoing maintenance and is currently unavailable." The message directed people to call Southwest's toll-free number, but a reporter who did that got busy signals. Southwest spokeswoman Brandy King said that the 800 number was working but call volume was high.

Subway latest to ax artificial ingredients

Subway wants to give new meaning to its "eat fresh" slogan by joining the list of food companies to say it's dropping artificial ingredients. The sandwich chain known for its marketing itself as a healthier alternative to hamburger chains said it will remove artificial flavors, colors and preservatives from its menu in North America by 2017. Whether that can help Subway keep up with changing attitudes about what qualifies as healthy remains to be seen. Elizabeth Stewart, Subway's director of corporate social responsibility, said the chain has been working on removing caramel color from cold cuts like roast beef and ham. For its turkey, Subway says it plans to replace a preservative called proprionic acid with vinegar by the end of this year.

Initial jobless claims down, remain low

Fewer Americans sought unemployment benefits last week, a sign that job cuts remain low as employers are confident enough in the business outlook to hold on to their staffs. The Labor Department said applications for unemployment aid dropped 8,000 to a seasonally adjusted 276,000. The four-week average, a less volatile figure, ticked up 2,750 to 274,750. Applications have been below 300,000, a historically low level, for 13 weeks. Applications are a proxy for layoffs. The small number of people seeking benefits indicates that Americans are enjoying solid job security.

Pepsi preparing line of 'craft' soda pop

PepsiCo is looking to launch a line of "craft" fountain sodas made with sugar in hopes of appealing to people who may shun big soda brands. The company, based in Purchase, N.Y., says Stubborn Soda will be made with sugar, rather than the high fructose corn syrup used to sweeten many other sodas like Coke and Pepsi. The line of sodas, which were first reported by the industry tracker Beverage Digest, will include flavors like black cherry with tarragon, orange hibiscus, pineapple cream and agave vanilla cream.

SEC files lawsuit over Avon stock trading

Federal regulators say a Bulgarian man was part of a scheme to manipulate the stocks of Avon Products and two other companies by issuing fake takeover offers. Nedko Nedev, 37, of Sofia, Bulgaria, and four other defendants worked together to violate securities laws over the last four years, according to a lawsuit filed in a New York federal court by the Securities and Exchange Commission. One defendant, PTG Capital, filed an offer for Avon last month claiming it had proposed buying all the company's stock for a large premium, the suit said. As a result, Avon's shares soared as much as 20 percent on May 14. The SEC said the company seems to have been formed only to manipulate stocks.

Yahoo plans to shut down maps website

Yahoo said it will shut down its maps site, part of a spring cleanup of products at the Web portal. Maps.yahoo.com will close at the end of June, Amotz Maimon, chief architect at the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company, said in a blog post. Yahoo will still support mapping as part of other services including search and the photo-sharing website Flickr. "We made this decision to better align resources to Yahoo's priorities as our business has evolved since we first launched Yahoo Maps eight years ago," Maimon said in the post. Yahoo Chief Executive Marissa Mayer is looking for ways to keep costs under control as she works to turn around the company.

State Farm to get first new CEO in 30 years

State Farm Insurance Cos. said Chief Operating Officer Michael Tipsord will become its next chief executive, succeeding Ed Rust Jr., who has led the private company since the mid-1980s. The Bloomington, Ill.-based insurance and financial company said in a news release that Tipsord will take over in September from Rust, who has held the post since 1985. Rust, 64, will remain chairman of the company's board. Tipsord joined the company in 1988. He became a vice president in 2002 and chief financial officer in 2004 before taking his current job in 2011.

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