BC-APFN-Business News Digest
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All times EDT.
—Adds: FOOD STAMPS-CUTS, GAYS ASSAULTED-SOCIAL MEDIA, ANTHEM BLUE CROSS-HOSPITALS, WELLS FARGO-SEXUAL HARASSMENT, EBOLA-IMF, FED-COMPARING STATEMENTS, YELLEN-FED BALANCE SHEET, BEANIE BABIES CREATOR-SENTENCING, TESTOSTERONE DRUGS-FDA, LABOR-JAZZ MUSICIANS, FACEBOOK-DRAG QUEENS
—Updates: FINANCIAL MARKETS, FEDERAL RESERVE, FED FORECASTS,
WASHINGTON — The Federal Reserve signals that it plans to keep a key interest rate at a record low for a considerable period because a broad range of U.S. economic measures remain subpar. The Fed says it intends to keep its benchmark rate near zero as long as inflation remains under control, until it sees consistent gains in wage growth, long-term unemployment and other gauges of the job market. By Martin Crutsinger. SENT: 810 words, photo.
— FED FORECASTS — The Federal Reserve issues its updated quarterly economic forecasts. By Christopher S. Rugaber. SENT: 270 words.
— FED-COMPARING STATEMENTS — A comparison of the Federal Reserve's statements from its two-day meeting that ended Wednesday and its meeting July 29-30. SENT: 220 words.
— YELLEN-FED BALANCE SHEET — Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen says "it could take until the end of the decade" to shrink the Fed's record investment portfolio to more normal levels. SENT: 130 words.
ON THE MONEY-FLU SHOTS
Spurred by the swine flu outbreak a few years ago and a push to offer more health care, the nation's biggest drugstores and retailers are grabbing larger chunks of the immunization market each year. Their growth gives customers more convenient options to protect themselves against the flu, pneumonia and more than a dozen other illnesses. But the push also muscles into an area of care that was once largely the domain of the family doctor. And that stirs some worry among physicians who say care delivered by retailers can make it harder to stay tuned in to the health of their patients. By Tom Murphy. SENT: 800 words, photo.
MOSCOW — The arrest of a Russian telecoms and oil tycoon has sent shock waves through the country's business community, with some fearing a return to the dark days of a decade ago, when the Kremlin asserted its power by imprisoning the country's then-richest man and expropriating his companies. The criminal case against 65-year-old Vladimir Yevtushenkov marks the first attack on a billionaire businessman since the arrest in 2003 of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the former head of Yukos, which was the country's largest oil company at the time. He spent the next decade in prison on tax evasion and misappropriation charges and saw his company taken over by the state and sold in pieces. By Nataliya Vasilyeva. SENT: 910 words, photos.
BEIJING — Control over Alibaba Group will stay in the hands of founder Jack Ma and other company veterans after the Chinese e-commerce giant goes public on the New York Stock Exchange in a record busting share sale. Alibaba says the partnership setup will preserve its innovative culture in a fast-developing industry and reduce distractions from financial market fluctuations. But research suggests such arrangements enrich insiders at the expense of other shareholders and in Alibaba's case, some see a reflection of China's authoritarian politics. By Joe McDonald. SENT: 950 words, photo.
NEW YORK — What do small business owners need to pay attention to this fall besides their businesses? Health care, Internet security and new technology top the list. Here are the five things small business owners need to be on top of over the next several months. By Joyce M. Rosenberg. SENT: 800 words, photo.
MARKETS & ECONOMY:
NEW YORK — The stock market rises after the Federal Reserve tells investors to expect low interest rates for a while yet, pushing the Dow Jones industrial average to a record high. By Bernard Condon. SENT: 500 words, photo. UPCOMING: 700 words by 5:30 p.m.
WASHINGTON — U.S. consumer prices edge down in August, the first monthly drop since the spring of 2013, as gasoline, airline tickets and clothing prices all fall. It's the latest evidence that inflation remains under control. By Martin Crutsinger. SENT: 480 words, photo.
WASHINGTON — U.S. homebuilders' confidence in the market for new, single-family homes surged this month to the highest level in nearly nine years. The brighter outlook reflects growing optimism that sales will increase over the next six months. That could potentially spur growth in home construction, a key driver of the economy. By Alex Veiga. SENT: 550 words, photo.
WASHINGTON — The U.S. current account trade deficit narrows slightly in the April-June quarter, reflecting gains in exports of oil and civilian aircraft and a bigger surplus in Americans' overseas investment earnings. By Martin Crutsinger. SENT: 300 words, photo.
— EUROPE-NEGATIVE RATES — Investors have bought billions of euros in German treasury notes that pay negative interest — meaning the purchasers agreed to pay a small fee for the privilege of lending the German government their money. SENT: 340 words.
— EBOLA-IMF — The International Monetary Fund is preparing $127 million in zero-interest loans to the three African countries hardest hit by the Ebola outbreak — Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. SENT: 230 words.
PIZZA HUT-SKINNY SLICE
NEW YORK — Pizza Hut is testing a lighter pizza in two U.S. markets as it seeks to freshen up its menu and regain its footing against competitors. The tests of the "Skinny Slice" pies began this week at several dozen restaurants in Toledo, Ohio, and West Palm Beach, Florida. The pies simply use less of the same dough used for regular pizzas and are lighter on the toppings, said Doug Terfehr, a Pizza Hut spokesman. By Candice Choi. SENT: 500 words.
RETHINKING POT-DUELING ADS
DENVER — Take it easy on the weed, Colorado pot shoppers are being told in new ad campaigns launched by industry advocates this week. An industry group is sending "Start Low Go Slow" posters to pot dispensaries, and an advocacy group is launching an ad campaign warning new marijuana users not to overdo it. The advertising efforts aim to reduce cases of visitors and new users accidentally eating too much medical-grade pot and getting sick. Pot activists say their campaigns are less insulting than some public-service ads launched by the state this year, which rely on stoner stereotypes. By Kristen Wyatt. SENT: 750 words, photos.
WASHINGTON — Attorney General Eric Holder is seeking to increase incentives for Wall Street whistleblowers who report financial crime. The goal is to encourage more whistleblowers at financial firms to come forward. Holder says such witnesses are critical given the difficulty of developing evidence in financial fraud cases. By Eric Tucker. SENT: 420 words.
PARIS — The French government urges an end to the strike that has grounded at least half of the airline's flights this week. The pilots are angry about company plans to shift many operations to low-cost affiliate Transavia and transfer some jobs to countries with lower taxes and labor costs. The flagship French carrier argues it needs to cut costs to stay competitive in the face of rivalry from budget airlines and Gulf state carriers. But many passengers in airport departure halls were expressing a mix of fury, frustration and resignation. SENT: 830 words, photos.
HONG KONG-ROLLS ROYCE
HONG KONG — A Hong Kong tycoon has placed the biggest ever order for Rolls-Royce cars, agreeing to buy 30 Phantoms to chauffeur guests at a luxury resort he's building in the global gambling capital of Macau. Stephen Hung's $20 million purchase surpasses the 14 Phantoms bought by Hong Kong's Peninsula Hotel in 2006. By Kelvin Chan. SENT: 440 words, photo.
— NIKE-PETERSON — Nike suspends its sponsorship deal with Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson following child abuse allegations. SENT: 140 words.
— FOOD STAMPS-CUTS — Cuts to the nation's food stamp program enacted this year are only affecting four states, far from the sweeping overhaul that Republicans had pushed, an Associated Press review has found. SENT: 1,000 words.
— ANIMAL ABUSE-DAIRY FARM — The New Mexico Livestock Board launches an investigation into a southern New Mexico dairy after an activist working with an animal welfare group recorded secret video showing workers whipping cows with chains and wire cables, kicking and punching the animals, and shocking them with electric prods. SENT: 680 words.
— AMTRAK-TRUCK CRASH — A Nevada trucking company would pay more than $5.7 million if a judge formalizes a jury verdict finding one of its drivers caused a 2011 crash with an Amtrak train that killed six people and injured dozens. SENT: 560 words.
— CHEMICAL SPILL-SETTLEMENT — A federal bankruptcy judge in West Virginia approves a $2.9 million settlement to benefit 300,000 people whose water was contaminated in a January chemical spill. SENT: 160 words.
— MEIJER-RECALL PENALTY — Midwest retailer Meijer (MY-er) Inc. will pay $2 million to settle charges that the firm knowingly sold and distributed hundreds of recalled products. SENT: 120 words.
— CIVITAS SOLUTIONS-IPO — Shares of Civitas Solutions are inching lower after the company's initial public offering priced at $198.9 million, below its expectations. SENT: 130 words.
— GERMANY-HONG-KONG-CEO — A Chinese shoe manufacturer says two of its top executives have vanished, along with most of the company's cash. Germany-listed Ultrasonic AG says it has been unable to reach its chief executive, Qingyong Wu, and chief operating officer, Minghong Wu, since the weekend. SENT: 130 words.
— BEHIND-THE-WHEEL-CADILLAC ESCALADE — Cadillac's flagship Escalade sport utility vehicle keeps its bold, distinctive style and immense proportions after a major redesign for 2015. SENT: 1,000 words, photo.
— ANTHEM BLUE CROSS-HOSPITALS — Insurer Anthem Blue Cross is joining with several prominent Southern California hospitals to offer a new type of health coverage plan it promises will provide high-quality medical care at affordable prices. SENT: 430 words.
— WELLS FARGO-SEXUAL HARASSMENT — Wells Fargo Bank has agreed to pay $290,000 to four tellers in Nevada to settle a same-sex sexual harassment case brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. SENT: 360 words.
— BEANIE BABIES CREATOR-SENTENCING — Federal prosecutors seeking to put the billionaire creator of Beanie Babies in prison for hiding millions in Swiss bank accounts tell appellate court judges that the toymaker's sentence of probation threatens to erode the judicial system's ability to deter other tax evaders. SENT: 490 words.
— TESTOSTERONE DRUGS-FDA — Federal health experts say there is little evidence that testosterone-boosting drugs are effective for treating common signs of aging and large studies are needed to support their continued use in millions of American men. SENT: 130 words.
— LABOR-JAZZ MUSICIANS — Keisha St. John has been singing at some of the most famous jazz clubs in the nation for more than five decades. She was paid $50 a night when she sang in "Three Guys and a Doll" in 1958. Now, at age 75 and nearing retirement, she has no pension to fall back on — and is asking the clubs to help out. SENT: 390 words.
DALLAS — Growth in online shopping is boosting profit at FedEx, and the company plans to hire more than 50,000 extra workers to handle what is shaping up as another record year for holiday-season package deliveries. That's up from about 40,000 temporary holiday workers hired last year. By David Koenig. SENT: 720 words, photo.
— SPAIN-EARNS-INDITEX —Spanish fashion retailer Inditex, which owns Zara stores, says net profit fell by 2.4 percent in the first half of 2014 despite robust sales, mainly due to the impact of a strong euro. SENT: 130 words.
— HOLIDAY HIRING-KOHL'S — Kohl's Corp. plans to hire more than 67,000 seasonal workers nationwide for the holiday shopping season, which the company said is a 15 percent increase over last year. SENT: 280 words.
— FAMILY DOLLAR-DOLLAR GENERAL — Family Dollar is telling shareholders to reject an unsolicited, $9.1 billion takeover bid by its rival, Dollar General. Family Dollar is currently trying to arrange a sale to another bargain chain, Dollar Tree. SENT: 250 words, photo.
TECHNOLOGY & MEDIA:
TOKYO — Sony expects its annual loss to swell to $2 billion and has canceled dividends for the first time in more than half a century after writing down the value of its troubled smartphone business. By Elaine Kurtenbach. SENT: 650 words, photos.
NEW YORK — San Francisco drag queens are sparring with Facebook over its policy requiring people to use their real names, rather than drag names such as Pollo Del Mar and Heklina. By Barbara Ortutay. SENT: 560 words.
— GAMES-NBA 2K15 — "NBA 2K15" is angling for a slam dunk with an innovative new feature that allows players to put their game faces on. The developers of the interactive basketball game are adding the option for gamers to digitally graft lifelike 3D renditions of their faces onto virtual players in the series' latest installment, set for release on Oct. 7. SENT: 600 words, photos, video.
— GAYS ASSAULTED-SOCIAL MEDIA — Police searching for a group of suspects in the beating of a gay couple say they got an assist from social media users, and a defense lawyer say that some of them were turning themselves in for questioning. SENT: 470 words.
AHMEDABAD, India — Chinese President Xi Jinping lands in the Indian prime minister's home state of Gujarat for a three-day visit expected to focus on India's need to improve worn out infrastructure and reduce its trade deficit. By R.K. Misra and Katy Daigle. SENT: 700 words, photos.
— BRITAIN-ECONOMY — Bank of England policymakers remain divided on whether to raise interest rates, voting 7-2 at their last meeting in favor of keeping the main rate at a record low 0.5 percent. Minutes from the Sept. 3-4 meeting show that policymakers retained the status quo even as Europe's third-largest economy recovers at a brisk pace. With inflation at 1.5 percent, below the 2 percent target, pressure to raise rates remains muted. SENT: 130 words.
— EUROPE-ECONOMY — The inflation rate in August for the 18 countries using the euro has been revised up slightly. The European Union's statistics office, Eurostat, says the eurozone's annual inflation rate was 0.4 percent, up from its initial estimate of 0.3 percent published late last month. SENT: 130 words.
— GERMANY-FRANCE-SPACEWAYS — A website aiming to shake up the self-storage market says it is expanding to Paris to take advantage of the French capital's notoriously small apartments. SpaceWays says it plans to offer the same home pickup and delivery service, booked online, that's already available in London. The company launched its first site in Britain in July. SENT: 130 words.
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A recent snapshot of Americans applying for mortgage loans showed the lowest weekly level in nearly 14 years, and it prompted some head scratching. Mortgage interest rates are at historically low and homebuyer-enticing levels. Shouldn't the number of mortgage applications be higher? UPCOMING: Graphic expected by 6 p.m.
The improving housing market means Lennar not only sold more homes last quarter than a year ago, it also sold them at higher prices. That helped propel it to a better-than-expected profit. UPCOMING: Graphic expected by 6 p.m.