US businesses worry about a prolonged shutdown

NEW YORK (AP) As the government's partial shutdown enters a second day, most companies across the country are doing business as usual. Yet concern is rising that a prolonged shutdown would cause some work at private companies to dry up and consumers to lose faith in the U.S. economy.

Many of the 800,000 government workers without paychecks would no longer shop at malls, buy cars or splurge on dinner out.

For each week the government remains shut, the U.S. economy would lose 0.15 percent of annualized growth, David Stockton, a former research director at the Federal Reserve who is now at the Peterson Institute, estimates.


Stocks fall as fears of protracted shutdown grow

NEW YORK (AP) Wall Street to Washington: end the shutdown and move on.

The U.S. stock market ended lower Wednesday as traders, Europe's central banker and Wall Street CEOs urged Congress to stop the two-day government shutdown that has closed national parks, put hundreds of thousands of federal employees on furlough and forced President Barack Obama to cancel an overseas trip.

Wall Street made it clear that the longer the budget fight drags on, the more its bankers worry about significant damage to the economy and the possibility that Congress won't allow the government to borrow more. The financial market sees that as a disastrous move that could send the U.S. into recession.


Twitter IPO stokes hot market for Internet stocks

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Internet stocks are heating up again, just as Twitter is preparing to turn up the temperature with its highly anticipated IPO.

Consider what's happened in the past month: The once-scorned stocks of Netflix and Facebook have soared to new highs; Yahoo's long-languishing stock has regained its vigor and surpassed $34 for the first time in nearly six years; enamored investors just poured more than $1.7 billion into secondary stock offerings by LinkedIn and Pandora Media Inc.; and Priceline.com's stock recently broke $1,000, catapulting past its peak reached in 1999 during the dot-com boom.

As hot as some Internet stocks are, the fervor is nothing like it was in the late 1990s when investors minted dozens of unprofitable companies with rich market values.


Icon of NYC makes debut with Empire State IPO

Throngs of tourists ascend the Empire State Building daily to gape out over New York. Now investors can also be part of the story of the skyscraper made famous in films such as "Sleepless in Seattle" and "King Kong."

The owner of the building, Empire State Realty Trust Inc., made its market debut Wednesday more than a year and a half after announcing its intent to go public. The company first had to grapple with lawsuits brought by investors taking issue with the structure of the offering.

After a day of heavy trading, the stock ended up 10 cents, or less than 1 percent, to $13.10.


Marc Jacobs says farewell to Louis Vuitton

PARIS (AP) What was likely designer Marc Jacobs' last ready-to-wear collection for Louis Vuitton looked like a show in mourning Wednesday black, black and more black.

A dark fountain and a nightmarish carousel with inky horses were the backdrop for a universe of clothes all in black. Maids cleaned away dust from the steps of the disturbing set, which traced Jacobs' influential 16-year reign at Vuitton.

Shortly after the show at the Louvre Museum in Paris, the visual metaphor was explained: French luxury conglomerate LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton announced that Jacobs was stepping down as creative director of its flagship brand.

Jacobs, who is also the director of an eponymous brand, is one of the biggest names in the fashion industry. Under his tenure, Louis Vuitton became the most lucrative fashion house in the world, in part thanks to his creation of a ready-to-wear line.


US companies add 166,000 jobs in September

WASHINGTON (AP) U.S. businesses added just 166,000 jobs in September, only slightly more than the previous two months. The lack of improvement in hiring, along with the threat of a prolonged government shutdown, could help persuade the Federal Reserve to delay scaling back its stimulus.

Payroll company ADP said Wednesday that private employers added just 159,000 jobs in August and 161,000 in July. Both were lower than the previous estimates.

The figures are taking on greater importance because they may be the only measure of the September job market for some time. The Labor Department will have to delay its September jobs report, scheduled for Friday, now that it appears the government shutdown will go past Wednesday.


Monsanto loss widens, announces $930 million acquisition

WASHINGTON (AP) Agricultural business giant Monsanto Co. reported worse-than-expected losses for its fiscal fourth quarter on Wednesday, due to lower sales of its genetically engineered seeds.

The company forecast for fiscal 2014 also came in below Wall Street expectations, and it revealed plans to buy farming software and data firm The Climate Corporation. The combination sent shares lower.

Monsanto said separately it would pay $930 million in cash for the Climate Corporation, which was founded in 1996 by engineers from Google and other Silicon Valley companies. The company's technology uses weather forecasting and data analysis to help farmers plan their growing seasons.


UK's Tesco in $558 million China supermarket tie-up

HONG KONG (AP) British retail giant Tesco is paying a Chinese state-owned company $558 million to take over its supermarkets in China after failing to make headway on its own since entering the country a decade ago.

Tesco's 134 Chinese stores and its shopping mall business are being vacuumed up by China Resources Enterprises Ltd., which is the supermarket leader with nearly 3,000 stores across the country. In exchange, Tesco gets a 20 percent stake in a joint venture with China Resources that will operate the combined retailing businesses.

The China business of Tesco, Britain's biggest retailer by sales, suffered a pretax loss of 222 million pounds ($360 million) in its most recent financial year. The year before, it lost 125 million pounds.


Beanie Babies creator cries, pleads guilty

CHICAGO (AP) The billionaire who created Beanie Babies broke down crying in court Wednesday as he pleaded guilty to one count of tax evasion for hiding $25 million in income in secret Swiss bank accounts.

H. Ty Warner, 69, also apologized as he stood before a federal judge in Chicago, removing his designer tortoise-shell glasses and wiping away tears as he struggled to regain his composure.

The toy-maker's 18-page plea deal says guidelines call for a prison term of around four years a calculation that makes it likely he'll serve time behind bars. It also requires he pay a $53 million civil penalty.


ECB's Draghi: willing to act to support economy

PARIS (AP) European Central Bank head Mario Draghi said the eurozone economy is still fragile and the bank is willing to use "all available instruments" to keep market interest rates from rising and hurting a fledgling recovery.

He said the bank would even consider offering a third round of cheap, long-term loans to banks. The money injection would boost the flow of credit in the economy, hopefully helping growth in the 17-country currency bloc.

Yet the ECB took no action Wednesday. It left its benchmark interest rate unchanged at a record low 0.5 percent and shied away from any new stimulus measures, such as the credit offering.


By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average ended the day down 58.56 points, or 0.4 percent, at 15,133.14 points. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 1.13 points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,693.87. The Nasdaq composite declined 2.96 points, or 0.1 percent, to 3,815.02.

Benchmark oil for November delivery rose $2.06, or 2 percent, to close at $104.10 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, a benchmark used to price imported crude used by many U.S. refineries, gained $1.25 to $109.19 in London.

Wholesale gasoline rose 2 cents to $2.63 per gallon. Natural gas dropped 7 cents to $3.54 per 1,000 cubic feet. Heating oil rose 4 cents to $2.99 per gallon.