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US economy looks weaker after subpar retail sales

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. economy appears to be weaker than many economists had thought after a report Monday showed consumers spent cautiously in June at retail businesses.

Americans bought more cars and trucks, furniture and clothes. But they cut back almost everywhere else. They spent less at restaurants and bars, reduced purchases at home improvement stores, and bought fewer computers and electronics.

Overall retail spending rose 0.4 per cent in June from May, the Commerce Department said. But excluding volatile spending on autos, gasoline and building supplies, so-called core retail sales rose just 0.15 per cent. That's the weakest gain since January.

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China's economic growth slows more as trade slumps

BEIJING (AP) — China's leaders face new pressure to stimulate a slowing economy after growth fell to its lowest since 1991, hurt by weak trade and efforts to cool a credit boom.

The world's second-largest economy expanded 7.5 per cent over a year earlier in the three months ending in June, down from the previous quarter's 7.7 per cent, data showed Monday. Growth in factory production, investment and other indicators weakened.

Analysts said growth could fall further, adding to pressure on communist leaders who took power last year. They are trying to shift China from reliance on exports and investment to slower, more sustainable growth based on domestic consumption.

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With Corbat at helm, Citi's profit, revenue rise

NEW YORK (AP) — It's been nine months since Mike Corbat was handed the reins of Citigroup and tasked with turning around the struggling banking giant. On Monday, the bank announced second-quarter results that beat Wall Street expectations, earning him praise from analysts who said he is steering the bank in the right direction.

Strong results from investment banking helped Citi's April-to-June results, and the bank also benefited from setting aside less money for potential bad loans. Profit shot up 26 per cent, after excluding an accounting gain, and revenue rose 8 per cent.

That isn't to say that Corbat's path is without roadblocks. On calls with analysts and reporters, Corbat and his chief financial officer, John Gerspach, were peppered with questions about a number of potential challenges. Among them: Proposed regulations that could require big banks to hold more capital, rising interest rates that could dampen demand for mortgages and a slowdown in growth in emerging-market countries, on which Citigroup is heavily reliant.

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Magnetic CEO, Alibaba jackpot rejuvenate Yahoo

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Not much had been going right for Yahoo until it lured Marissa Mayer away from Google to become its CEO last summer. The move is shaping up as the best thing to happen to Yahoo since 2005 when it invested $1 billion in what was then a little-known Internet company in China, Alibaba.

Mayer's magnetism and Alibaba's prosperity are now combining to transform Yahoo Inc. from a tale of woe into a comeback story that is winning over Silicon Valley and Wall Street.

People are spending more time on Yahoo's flagship website. Talented engineers and entrepreneurs are coming to work for the company. Investors are adding its long-languishing stock to their portfolios again. The signs of renewed interest and hope mark a dramatic change from the feelings of hopelessness that had enveloped Yahoo under the direction of six CEOs in the six years leading up to Mayer's appointment.

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US business stockpiles up modest 0.1 per cent

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. businesses increased their stockpiles only slightly in May, despite a solid sales increase. The figures suggest economic growth has slowed but could pick up in the second half of the year.

The Commerce Department said Monday that business stockpiles rose just 0.1 per cent in May from April, half the previous month's increase.

Sales increased 1.1 per cent in May after being flat in April. That's the best gain since February.

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Loblaw to buy Shoppers Drug Mart for $11.9 billion

TORONTO (AP) — Canada's largest supermarket chain said Monday that it has agreed to purchase the country's biggest pharmacy chain for $11.9 billion (CA$12.4 billion) in cash and stock.

Loblaw Companies Ltd. said that by buying Shoppers Drug Mart Corp. it would create a retail giant with more than $40 billon (CA$42 billion) in revenue and gain access to the growing small-urban store sector.

The offer is worth $59.22 (CA$61.54) per Shoppers Drug Mart common share — about 29 per cent above the recent average trading price for the Shoppers stock — with about 54 per cent of the price paid in cash.

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Twinkies may be smaller than people recall

NEW YORK (AP) — Twinkies are back, but they may be a bit smaller than you remember.

The new boxes hitting shelves this week list the spongy yellow cakes as having 270 calories and a weight of 77 grams for two cakes, or 135 calories and 38.5 grams for one cake.

Right before it went out of business, the predecessor company had told The Associated Press that Twinkies were 150 calories per cake. Photos of past boxes online also indicate the weight to have been 42.5 grams per cake.

A spokeswoman for Hostess, Hannah Arnold, said in an email Monday that the size change was made in "mid-2012" by the predecessor company. That would mean it happened in the months leading up to its bankruptcy, as the company was trying to keep its head above water financially.

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US probes C-Class Mercedes for lighting problems

DETROIT (AP) — U.S. safety regulators are investigating about 218,000 Mercedes C-Class luxury cars because the rear lights can fail and even catch fire.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says the probe affects cars from the 2008 and 2009 model years.

The agency says it has 21 reports of the brake lights or turn signals lights dimming or failing to light. In many cases the drivers reported a burning smell or melting of electrical parts. Some also reported smelling smoke or seeing burn marks in the trunks, and one reported small flames coming from the rear lamp connector when the trunk was opened.

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Maker of 787 transmitter joining UK fire probe

Honeywell said Monday that it has joined the investigation into last week's fire on a 787 at London's Heathrow Airport amid reports that investigators are eyeing whether its emergency transmitter played a role in the incident.

The emergency location transmitter sends a signal with the plane's location if it's involved in a crash. It's meant to help rescuers find the plane.

The fire on a parked Ethiopian Airlines 787 Friday brought back memories of two smouldering lithium-ion batteries in January that caused authorities to ground the 787 worldwide for more than three months. Boeing redesigned the systems that include those large, powerful batteries to win government approval so 787s could fly again.

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Spain prime minister resists resignation demands amid scandal

MADRID (AP) — Spain's prime minister on Monday brushed off demands he should resign after text messages emerged showing him comforting a political party treasurer under investigation over a slush fund and secret Swiss bank accounts. The spectacle of alleged greed and corruption has enraged Spaniards hurting from austerity and sky high unemployment with no end in sight.

As Mariano Rajoy told reporters he would not step down, former Popular Party Luis Barcenas testified behind closed doors in Madrid, telling a judge investigating slush fund allegations that he gave tens of thousands of euros in secret cash payments to Rajoy and party secretary general Maria Delores de Cospedal between 2008 and 2010.

Rajoy declined to comment on specifics, while Cospedal slammed Barcenas' declarations as "new slander and lies" from a criminal suspect and said she never received cash payments from him. Rajoy insisted after meeting with Poland's premier that he will "see out the mandate the Spanish electorate gave me. This is a stable government that is going to fulfil its obligations."

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 19.96 points, or 0.1 per cent, to close at 15,484.26. The Standard

Benchmark crude for August delivery gained 37 cents to $106.32. Brent crude rose 28 cents at $109.09 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

Wholesale gasoline lost 2 cents to $3.10 a gallon. Heating oil was flat at $3.03 a gallon. Natural gas rose 3 cents to $3.67 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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