Panama Canal official sees progress in spat

PANAMA CITY - Panama Canal Administrator Jorge Quijano said Wednesday the agency has reached tentative agreement with contractors on some of the issues that have stalled work on the biggest expansion of the waterway in a century.

Builders say work has gone $1.6 billion over budget, and they've sought to have the Panama Canal Authority pay. Quijano has said they must stick to their $3.1 billion bid.

The dispute threatens to delay a project that has led ports and shippers worldwide to make costly new investments to take advantage of the ability to move larger ships through the canal.

Amazon hiring in S.C., other fulfillment sites

SEATTLE - Amazon says it is hiring more than 2,500 full-time workers at its order fulfillment centers around the U.S., including one in Columbia.

The world's largest online retailer says last year it hired more than 20,000 people at its fulfillment centers, with more than half starting out as seasonal workers. Amazon says the median income for people working at its order-fulfillment facilities is higher than at traditional retailers.

The company had 117,300 full-time and part-time employees at the end of 2013, according to a filing.

Obama ups minimum pay for fed contractors

WASHINGTON - President Obama has raised the minimum wage for federal contractors to $10.10 from $7.25. He signed the order Wednesday.

Because the measure applies only to new contracts, officials have said it will affect just a few hundred thousand workers, a small percentage of the more than 2 million contractors.

The White House says the order requires employees who work for tips to make at least $10.10 overall. It also prevents contract workers from being paid less than others if they have disabilities that affect productivity. Obama is also calling on Congress to raise wages for all workers to $10.10.

VW's Tennessee plant begins 3-day UAW vote

NASHVILLE - Workers at Volkswagen's U.S. plant in Tennessee kicked off a three-day election Wednesday about whether they want to be represented by the United Auto Workers. If the union succeeds, the Chattanooga plant would become the first among foreign automakers in the South to unionize.

That's a prospect dreaded by Republican politicians in the state, who say they worry about losing a competitive edge in drawing future business.

Airbus nabs deal for 20 superjumbo A380 jets

SINGAPORE - Airbus announced its second major aircraft order of the Singapore Airshow with a deal Wednesday to deliver 20 of its superjumbo A380s to leasing company Amedeo by 2020. The planes are worth about $8.3 billion but list prices are often discounted.

The order is a boost for the plane maker because A380 sales have fallen short of expectations. A day earlier, low cost carrier VietJetAir signed a deal to buy more than 90 Airbus A320 jets.

Dr Pepper's new tack: sell 60 calories per can

NEW YORK - Americans are cutting back on regular and diet sodas. So Dr Pepper is testing something in between, with natural sweeteners.

Dr Pepper Snapple Group said Wednesday that it plans to test versions of its sodas with about 60 calories a can. That's less than half the 150 calories in a can of regular Dr Pepper, but more than the 0 calories in the diet version. The sodas would use sugar and stevia, rather than the artificial sweeteners or high-fructose corn syrup.

Wire reports