Exec: Under Armour's athletes fit the brand story

Under Armour has expanded its focus beyond football and the gym on its way to becoming the second-biggest sportswear company in the US. Global marketing chief Adrienne Lofton says the brand's athlete endorsers represent a certain ethic that matches its story. "We're an underdog brand. We work with athletes who most people wouldn't or didn't draft in the first round, or who they wouldn't traditionally give a prima ballerina title to. We pick that athlete with a chip on their shoulder," she says.

Study: Community colleges shed their "second-rate" label

With the cost of college climbing, community colleges have shaken off a "second-rate" image to emerge as a viable, efficient and affordable option for many students, according to a new study by WalletHub. Other features of two-year schools that appeal to students include flexibility, smaller classes and rigorous coursework, the study found.

CFPB's emphasis on dealer markups could raise consumer costs

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's focus on auto dealer markups -- which it says can lead to discriminatory pricing for minorities -- is pushing some lenders to create new price structures that may make auto loans more costly for consumers.

Craft beer, wine and spirits win over Gen Y

Millennials on a mission to find new local, authentic and artisan products are fueling annual increases in craft beer sales and encouraging the rise of indie distillers and wine makers, said NPD Group's Warren Solochek. "If you ask me if I think it's a trend or a fad, I think it's a trend. I do think it will continue into the foreseeable future, because people love to try something new," he said.

Study examines how young millennials choose providers

A Nuance survey found that 54% of respondents aged 18 to 24 use online resources and physician ratings before choosing their doctors, compared with 39% of all adults. Seventy percent of young millennials rely on recommendations from family and friends about primary care providers, compared with 41% of seniors. When patients are dissatisfied with their care, most young millennials tell family and friends, while most seniors tell their providers.

Twitter uses stars to test editing features

Twitter is touting new photo- and video-editing tools by letting stars such as Taylor Swift and Pharrell Williams test the features. The celebrities have been posting images and videos marked up with text, doodles and stickers. Those features could help Twitter win back market share from Instagram and Facebook, Jon Russell writes.

Sources: Forever 21 may move to smaller store footprint

Fast-fashion retailer Forever 21 is exploring options for scaling down the size of some of its larger stores, and it's in talks with Wells Fargo bankers about securing a $150 million loan, sources said. The retailer has forecast a 10% rise in sales this year, but it's facing challenges as teens' tastes and shopping habits change.

White House eyes possible sanctions over hacking

The White House is considering measures to punish China and other countries that hack US computer networks, including economic sanctions and other restrictions on doing business in the US. Officials must tread carefully, however, to avoid an all-out information war, John Walcott writes.

Biotech potato from J.R. Simplot gets USDA nod
The Washington Times

J.R. Simplot's Russet Burbank biotech potato variety, which is resistant to late blight, generates less potentially cancer-causing chemicals and can be kept at colder temperatures for an extended period, has been cleared by the US Department of Agriculture. Approvals from the FDA and the Environmental Protection Agency are expected within a year. The firm intends to start commercial planting by 2017.

Samsung preps Gear S2 smartwatch

Samsung Electronics on Thursday will unveil the seventh version of its smartwatch, the Gear S2 equipped with 3G connectivity, a round display and a battery the company claims will last two to three days. Samsung's Tizen-based smartwatch will compete with the Apple Watch and be available in two styles: the sporty Gear S2 and the S2 Classic.

$1.6B transmission line project is planned for N.M., Texas

Southern Public Service will invest $1.6 billion by 2020 to enhance Xcel Energy's transmission lines in New Mexico and Texas to support wind energy and maintain grid reliability. The Power for the Plains project involves building substations and adding new lines. "We see this as a great opportunity for additional renewables," said Xcel Director of Strategic Planning Bill Grant.

Obama argues for approval of Shell's Chukchi oil drilling

President Barack Obama last week defended the federal authorization of Royal Dutch Shell's oil drilling program in Alaska's Chukchi Sea. The activity is conducted "at the highest standards possible with requirements specifically tailored to the risks of drilling off Alaska. We don't rubber-stamp permits," Obama said. He added that domestic oil and natural gas production is vital to the U.S. economy, as the nation reduces its reliance on imports and moves toward realizing climate change goals.

JetBlue to debut nonstop service from JFK to Palm Springs
MarketWatchUSA Today

JetBlue Airways plans to launch seasonal nonstop service from JFK to Palm Springs, Calif., during mid-January to May. "With direct service to Palm Springs five days a week, winter-weary East Coasters can escape to this desert getaway with 350 days of sunshine easier than ever before," said Dave Clark, vice president of network planning for JetBlue.

Delta debuts Sky Club at SFO with wall of windows

Delta Air Lines opened a Sky Club last week at San Francisco International Airport that features a wall of windows to watch aircraft departures and arrivals. The 9,000-square foot lounge also features Vietnamese-inspired food such as pho.