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Late to the Chinese market, Ford aims to catch up

CHONGQING, China (AP) — Dave Schoch has one of the toughest jobs at Ford Motor Co.: catching the competition in the world's biggest car market.

When Schoch (pronounced Shock) arrived in China 13 years ago, the government was building eight-lane freeways in major cities, but bicyclists and pedestrians still filled the streets. The Chinese were buying fewer than 2 million cars and trucks each year, a fraction of the 14.4 million sold in 2000 in the U.S.

When he returned to China last year, Schoch was stunned. The freeways were choked with cars, from inexpensive, Chinese-made Wuling minivans to Mercedes-Benz sedans. The red-hot Chinese economy had more than doubled annual wages, giving millions of people the money to buy a first vehicle or move up to a luxury brand.

Ford wants to double its Chinese market share to 6 per cent by 2015. To make that happen, the company is launching six new vehicles in China this year, including two small SUVs called the Kuga and the EcoSport, the Mondeo midsize sedan and the Explorer SUV, which is exported from Chicago. The Lincoln luxury brand will arrive next year.

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Kroger adds Harris Teeter to supermarket network

NEW YORK (AP) — Kroger, already the country's largest traditional supermarket operator, is expanding its reach in key southeastern and mid-Atlantic states by snapping up regional grocer Harris Teeter Supermarkets Inc.

The $2.44 billion cash deal reflects Kroger's growth plans at a time when supermarkets are fighting competition from big-box retailers such as Target Corp. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc., as well as drugstores and dollar stores that are expanding their food sections.

Harris Teeter has 212 stores in eight states. That includes locations in Delaware, Florida, Maryland and Washington, D.C., where Kroger currently does not have a presence.

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Role of aircraft automation eyed in air crash

WASHINGTON (AP) — The crash landing of a South Korean airliner in San Francisco has revived concerns that airline pilots get so little opportunity these days to fly without the aid of sophisticated automation that their stick-and-rudder skills are eroding.

The National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating the accident, is a long way from reaching a conclusion as to its probable cause. While the focus of their investigation could still shift, information released by the board thus far appears to point to pilot error.

What is known is that Asiana Airlines Flight 214 crashed short of its target runway Saturday at San Francisco International Airport in broad daylight under near ideal weather conditions. The Boeing 777's engines are still being examined, but they appear to have been operating normally. And the flight's pilots didn't report any mechanical issues or other problems.

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NYSE operator takes over LIBOR bank rate

LONDON (AP) — The company behind the New York Stock Exchange will take over running and restoring confidence in the scandal-hit London interbank offered rate, or LIBOR, a UK committee has ruled.

The independent panel, set up by the UK Treasury, on Tuesday chose NYSE Euronext to take over LIBOR from the British Bankers' Association, which had supervised the rate-setting for decades. The changeover is scheduled to be completed by early 2014, the panel's chair, Baroness Sarah Hogg, said in a statement. The panel did not identify other bidders.

LIBOR underpins trillions of dollars of transactions all over the world. It is an average rate that measures how much they expect to pay each other for loans. The rate is also used in calculating borrowing costs of hundreds of trillions of dollars in loans and investments such as bonds, auto loans and derivatives.

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A break for smokers? Glitch may limit penalties

WASHINGTON (AP) — Some smokers trying to get coverage next year under President Barack Obama's health care law may get a break from tobacco-use penalties that could have made their premiums unaffordable.

The Obama administration — in yet another health care overhaul delay — has quietly notified insurers that a computer system glitch will limit penalties that the law says the companies may charge smokers. A fix will take at least a year to put in place.

Older smokers are more likely to benefit from the glitch, experts say. But depending on how insurers respond to it, it's also possible that younger smokers could wind up facing higher penalties than they otherwise would have.

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IMF forecasts slower global growth in 2013-14

WASHINGTON (AP) — The International Monetary Fund said that it sees slower global growth in 2013 and 2014 than it did just three months ago, citing expectations of a slowdown in key developing countries such as China and Brazil and a more protracted recession in Europe.

The international lending agency released an update of its World Economic Outlook issued in April, projecting the world economy will grow at 3.1 per cent this year, down from a 3.3 forecast three months ago. The 2014 projection was cut to 3.8 per cent from 4.0 per cent.

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US job openings, hiring rise slightly in May

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. employers advertised slightly more jobs in May and hired more workers, further signs of steady improvement in the job market.

The Labor Department said Tuesday that job openings rose 28,000 to 3.83 million in May from April. That's close to February's 3.9 million, which was the highest in five years.

A measure of overall hiring increased 46,000 to 4.4 million. That's still lower than a year ago.

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Regulators propose stricter rule for 8 big banks

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal regulators took a step Tuesday toward making eight of the largest U.S. banks meet a stricter measure of health to reduce the threat they pose to the financial system.

The Federal Reserve, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency proposed that those banks increase their ratio of equity to loans and other assets from 3 per cent to 5 per cent. In addition, the banks' deposit-holding subsidiaries would have to increase that ratio to 6 per cent.

If adopted, the rule would take effect in 2018. It would apply to U.S. banks considered so big and interconnected that each could threaten the global financial system: Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley, Bank of New York Mellon and State Street Bank.

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BlackBerry name change approved by shareholders

WATERLOO, Ontario (AP) — Research In Motion has won formal approval to change its name to BlackBerry.

The Canadian company announced plans for the name change in January, when it unveiled new phones running a revamped operating system called BlackBerry 10. The company hopes the new devices will be more competitive with iPhones and Android devices.

Since January, Research In Motion Ltd. has been going by BlackBerry in marketing materials. It has also changed its ticker symbol to "BBRY." But a legal name change required shareholders' approval at Tuesday's annual meeting.

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Criminal probe in Quebec oil train derailment

LAC-MEGANTIC, Quebec (AP) — Canadian authorities said Tuesday they have opened a criminal investigation into the fiery wreck of a runaway oil train as the death toll climbed to 15, with dozens more bodies feared buried in the blackened, burned-out ruins of this small town.

Quebec police Inspector Michel Forget said that investigators have "discovered elements" that have led to a criminal probe. He gave no details but ruled out terrorism.

Tangled debris and gas leaks hampered rescue workers' search for bodies three days after the crash early Saturday that incinerated much of Lac-Megantic's downtown and raised questions about the safety of transporting oil by rail instead of pipeline.

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 75.65 points, or 0.5 per cent, to 15,300.34. The S

In New York, benchmark crude for August delivery gained 39 cents to close at $103.53 a barrel. Brent crude, which is used to set prices for oil used by many U.S. refineries, was up 38 cents at $107.81 on the ICE exchange in London.

Wholesale gasoline added 4 cents at $2.93 a gallon. Natural gas fell 8 cents to $3.66 per 1,000 cubic feet. Heating oil gained 1 cent to $2.99 per gallon.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/the-canadian-press/130709/business-highlights