If you actually survey each other People shop with at least two pieces of credit cards. Credit card debt Or good financial management Will result in financial liquidity accordingly.
At present, the credit business That credit card There is a lot of competition, whether it is propaganda. Allowing customers to become members Easily debtor By pulling out the attractiveness of that credit card in order to attract people to Feeling worthwhile when spending with credit cards, such as giving discounts, free gifts when shopping as specified. Or organize a credit card promotion Collect points for rewards Or to win big prizes, etc.
In order to obtain credit card customers, each bank will try to find ways to attract customers to use the service. Convenient loan, loan or credit card. Without having to hold cash in hand, of course, this is the marketing plan laid out To persuade customers to be interested in participating And to expand the customer base more and more.
As for how to choose which card to be a member Today, we would like to offer you a way to choose a credit card that suits your lifestyle, which are separated into the following points.
1.Explore your needs What kind of credit card you want
First try asking yourself I like to do things like eating out. It is wise to choose a card that offers a restaurant discount promotion. Or there are many participating restaurants If we are a shop It is wise to choose a credit card that offers promotions with the department store. Even if you choose to be a department store that we go to Shopping on a regular basis, it will be even better. In addition, you will have to look at whether the given amount is met as desired or not. However, the credit card limit should not be too high. Because it makes you spend fluently Increase your chances of being in debt.
2. The privilege is important
Always think before purchasing a credit card, what kind of benefits are appropriate for you, such as that credit card. There are other benefits. That match our preferences Give a rebate discount from the spending amount There are many promotions to choose from. Twice the reward points Or you can use the accumulated points to buy products Or can exchange various rewards.
3. Should choose a credit card with no annual fee
Choose a credit card that doesn't charge an annual fee. With no minimum spending amount that will be waived In order to not add more debt to yourself.
You must be sure The credit limit on the card is comfortable enough. And of course, do not use it until you forget to see How much are we capable of repayments? That is to say, even if the credit limit is high, it should not be fully spent. Because he might not be able to find money to pay off debt Then you will face the most brutal overdue interest ever.
5. Should choose a card with SMS alert service when spending
Choose to be a card with sms service to alert you when spending because sms will let us know how much money has been spent. And how much is the amount In order to prevent the problem of swiping the card in excess of the stated amount of goods or services It is also a security in case of loss of cards. Because when you receive an SMS notification, you will know immediately that someone brought your card to purchase.
6. Should use a credit card only when the usage is not charged
In the payment of goods or services Should inquire first that Stores that accept payment for such products or services Is there a fee for the card swipe? Some places charge a fee. Some places charge a fee when their spending is lower than the specified amount. And some places charge a fee regardless of how much they spend To avoid fees that could happen if not checked first.
Believe that everyone will have some principles in choosing a credit card. Hopefully it will be helpful to choose a credit card that meets our needs and desires. But do not forget that if you use it until you do not think about the debt that will follow, it will have negative consequences later.
How to protect your credit cards
How to protect your credit cards
“Ever wonder how your credit card could have been used to buy cellphones in Cleveland when you just swiped it at your grocery store an hour ago?” asked Christine DiGangi in Credit.com. It actually isn’t difficult for thieves to “manufacture fake cards” with stolen data and go on spending binges. And though it’s possible that your data might be stolen by an “ATM that has been tampered with” or a dishonest restaurant server, it’s far more likely your card will be compromised “in one of those massive data breaches you’ve been reading about recently.” You can’t prevent all theft, but you’ll be more protected by using only secure payment websites, never storing payment information in your Web browser, and checking your account activity daily.
Avoid common investment errors
There are some mistakes that I see investors make again and again, said John Schmoll in DailyFinance.com. “Not taking an active interest in investing” is a major one. “I have seen investors lose tens of thousands of dollars” because they didn’t check on their accounts every few months. Make sure you schedule regular times throughout the year to rebalance your investments and keep an eye on fees, which can “add up to a significant drain on your portfolio.” As always, keep your portfolio balanced to avoid risk. And in your attempts to diversify, try to avoid becoming “highly concentrated” in the relatively small number of popular stocks that form the core of many mutual funds. Finally, be rational about your money. Investors who lead with their emotions can lose big money by following the herd or reacting hastily to each upswing and downturn.
Catching counterfeit goods online
If an online deal seems too good to be true, said Kristin Wong in Lifehacker.com, it probably is. “To avoid being scammed” by counterfeit goods, be especially cautious about buying handbags, wallets, watches, jewelry, electronics parts, and pharmaceuticals—they are some of the most commonly faked goods in the U.S. And be sure to vet sellers before you hand over any cash. Look for physical mailing addresses, phone numbers, and return policies before you click Buy, and check out a seller’s reviews before purchasing anything. And “when it comes to pharmaceuticals, it helps to confirm a seller’s affiliation with a manufacturer” so you don’t end up with fakes.
Signs you should keep renting
Trying to decide whether to rent or buy? asked AJ Smith in Credit.com. While the homeownership decision is “ultimately personal,” there are a few things to consider before taking the plunge. “If you don’t have an emergency fund yet, or if purch asing a home would drain all of your savings, you probably aren’t ready.” Besides a down payment and a mortgage, “homeownership comes with expenses” like repairs and improvements, so basic safeguards, like job security, are key. “If you are unsure whether you will have your job for the next few years, you may want to wait.” And before you rush into buying, do your research and “learn what you can about the local housing market, including the price trends, the school district, and the property taxes.”
Be smart with rebates
Don’t blow your tax refund, said Gene Kosowan in DigitalJournal.com. If you’re getting money back from Uncle Sam this year, be sure to “get the biggest bang out of those bucks.” The best thing to do is sock the money away in a retirement account. But if you are going to spend it, why not pay down your debt? Some experts suggest attacking high-interest debts first, but others advise taking “the path of least resistance” by prioritizing lower-rate obligations. You should also consider using part of your return to set up an emergency fund. For homeowners investing in your property is a smart move. You’ll improve your current space and get “a higher resale price on the home once you decide to relocate.”
Vetting alternative funds
If your financial adviser is suggesting “alternative” mutual funds, start asking questions, said Linda Stern in Reuters.com. As “a catch-all category,” alternative funds can be slippery, and can refer to everything from “real estate partnerships to mutual funds that mimic hedge funds.” If your planner recommends one, it’s important to get a few things straight before buying in. First, ask why. Is investing in alternatives meant to “calm your portfolio during bad times or to add extra income?” Then ask how, as in “How will the fund accomplish its stated goal?” Next, “find out who the manager is and what she or he did before.” Were they a hedge fund manager? How did they do in 2008 and 2009? And lastly, check the cost. Alternative funds can be pricey, and since some advisers earn commissions for selling certain products, it’s “worth asking how much more you’ll get for your money.”
How much life insurance is enough?
Plenty of people struggle with deciding how much life insurance to buy, said Leslie Scism in WSJ.com. Unfortunately, that means many are “underinsured or have no insurance at all.” As a rule of thumb, you should aim to buy “eight to 10 times the breadwinner’s annual income.” And don’t rely solely on a life insurance policy provided through an employer. “Most private-sector workers’ employer-sponsored policies pay just a year’s worth of paychecks,” according to a 2013 Labor Department survey. If that’s not enough coverage—and it probably isn’t—you can shop around for a basic term-life insurance plan at sites like Term4Sale. A healthy, nonsmoking 40-year-old man can get a $1 million policy for as little as $600 a year.
Be careful combining finances
It’s important to be aware of the potential money pitfalls of walking down the aisle, said Christine DiGangi in Credit.com. Combining finances after getting married might mean combining debt, which “may limit your financial future together,” especially when it comes to buying big-ticket items like a house or a car. Taxes can be tricky, too, and new couples should check out marriage penalty calculators online to determine whether they’ll be better off filing jointly or separately. Lastly, there’s property. Know your local law, given that nine so-called community property states say any property acquired during the marriage is owned jointly by the spouses. For couples trying to keep things separate, it’s critical to know the rules before tying the knot.
How to qualify for in-state tuition
Figuring out how to pay in-state college tuition for an out-of-state student “is the ultimate money hack,” said Ron Lieber in The New York Times. At desirable state universities in Michigan and Colorado, the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition now approaches $100,000 per undergraduate degree. And with more stringent residency requirements being established to prevent people from gaming the system, it can be difficult for students to claim a new state as their home. Generally, “it takes a year and requires a child to become financially independent to varying degrees.” A new startup called In-State Angels is aiming to help students navigate the process, which varies widely by state. The company’s assistance is legal but costly: “Once the company succeeds, it asks for roughly 10 to 15 percent of the ultimate savings as a fee.”
Tax refunds could be delayed
If you’re expecting a tax refund next year, you may have to wait, said Laura Saunders in The Wall Street Journal. Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen suggested last week that next year’s tax season could be the most complicated ever for the IRS, thanks to dozens of expired tax provisions that Congress has yet to act upon. In years past, “late action by Congress on such provisions created problems” and sometimes delays. Among the expired provisions are “a deduction for state and local sales taxes; a tax exemption for the forgiveness of mortgage debt; a tuition deduction; [and] an enhanced break for transit commuters.” New laws that took effect this year, including the Affordable Care Act, are also expected to make the IRS’s job harder. Congress is not expected to address the expired provisions until after the midterms.
Mortgage rates keep falling
Now may be the time to refinance your mortgage, said Marcy Gordon in the Associated Press. Mortgage rates have fallen for five straight weeks, with the nationwide average for a 30-year mortgage falling to 3.92 percent, the lowest level since June 2013. The average rate for a 15-year mortgage fell to just 3.08 percent. Many lenders and borrowers had assumed that mortgage rates “would soon start rising closer to a two-decade average of 6 percent,” but volatility in the markets has compelled investors to move into bonds for safety. That has pushed up prices of U.S. Treasuries and suppressed their yields, which likewise keeps mortgage rates low. Consumers who refinance won’t save much on the extra fees, known as points, that they have to pay to lock in the lower rate. Average fees for 30- and 15-year mortgages have stayed flat at 0.5 point.
Therapy goes high tech
A new startup its taking talk therapy to the Web, said Ann Carrns in The New York Times. Instead of “buying a self-help book and paying $100 or more for an hour of inperson therapy,” a slew of new sites and mobile apps is offering “online therapy” to help clients get help. One new service, Lantern, charges users $49 a month or $300 a year to connect clients with licensed therapists, “initially by telephone and then via secure electronic messaging.” For now, Lantern is aimed at helping subscribers with anxiety, but “programs for other concerns like sleeping and relationship problems are expected to be added later.”
A strategy for shorter hours
There's no need to pull all-nighters, said Sue Shellenbarger in The \¥Iall Street journal. If you're good at your job, don't think you have to burn the midnight oil until your boss leaves the office. Instead, learn "to go home withour looking like a slacker." Good bosses want to be sure "their subordinates are meeting deadlines, that they can be reached when needed, and that they aren't creating extra work for colleagues." That doesn't have to mean working late. You may want to sit down with your boss to clarify that, bur come with specific examples of your great performance. It may not work: Some corporate cultures insist on long hours. Either way, "such conversations can open a dialogu~r expose a brick wall." If it's the laner, you might want to start sending out resumes.
How to avoid a tax audit
"Do you ever wonder how the IRS chooses which taxpayers it wants to audit?" asked Daryl Paranada in Fool.com. While individual tax audits are rare, mistakes on your tax return-such as putting down the wrong Social Security Number or fudging >- your math-are one way to "give the IRS ~ pause." Another is incomplete or missing information. If you're itemizing your deductions, don't "overstate your deductions or lie abour them. The IRS is well aware of what is outside the norm for people at your income level." And "if you do pull a fast one on the IRS, think twice before you bragabom it." The agency offers whisdeblowers a reward of up to 30 percent of the money it collects from tax evaders.
Tracking your FICO score
Learning your credit score just got easier, said Ann Carrns in The New York Times. Several credit-card issuers are now "providing cerrain types of free FICO credit scores to cardholders, both as an enticement to get you to open an account and as a way to educate you about what goes into your credit scorc." Discover, First Bankcard, and Barclaycard are among the first card issuers to provide free, regular credit scores to customers, bur "details of the card programs and the scores they offer vary." While these lenders all use FICO's commercial formula, they "may use slightly different data" to arrive at their scores. Nonetheless, "the free scorcs from the credit-card companies are likely to reflect the general trend of your credit profile," giving you a good idea of where you stand.
Saving on back-to-school purchases
Back-to-school shopping isn’t the “frenzied one-day spending spree” it used to be, said Kaitlyn Krasselt in USA Today. Families are expected to spend an average of $670 on school supplies, clothes, and electronics this year, but more parents “are shopping strategically online and picking up additional in-store items when necessary,” spreading out their purchases over time. For the essentials, experts say the best way to save is to avoid brick-and-mortar stores altogether and wait for Labor Day sales. In the meantime, late July and early August can be a great time to cash in on deals for classroom supplies, while big-ticket items like laptops are likely to go on sale in August, “when 62 percent of all 2013 laptop deals occurred.”
The risks of medical credit cards
Don’t let plastic you can use at the doctor’s office put your finances in critical condition, said Crissinda Ponder in Bankrate.com. For uninsured Americans with steep medical bills, medical credit cards may appear to be an attractive financing option for their health expenses. The cards, which can be used only for medical costs, are similar to ordinary credit cards, with minimum monthly payments, reporting to credit bureaus, and attractive signup offers. But experts say the cards should only be used as a “last resort,” because “the interest rate can be shockingly high.” Consumers should instead try to negotiate with their health-care provider to reduce their medical bills or seek financial assistance at a nonprofit hospital. If those avenues fail, it’s probably best to rely on regular plastic.
Don’t go broke on a gluten-free diet
A gluten-free diet doesn’t have to break the bank, said Gerri Detweiler in Credit.com. Though eliminating cheap wheat-based staples like bread and pasta can drive up your grocery bill, there are simple strategies to make a gluten-free lifestyle more affordable. First, “stop wasting food.” The average household already wastes about $2,300 in food each year. To reduce waste, buy salad greens on the stem, not pre-chopped, and store them in plastic bags with as little air as possible. Next, avoid gluten-free branded snacks, which are not necessarily healthy and are often overpriced. Finally, “make the freezer your friend.” Frozen vegetables can cost half the price of fresh ones, and buying meats when they’re on sale, and freezing them for later, can save you big bucks.
Saying no to LinkedIn requests
Don’t say yes to every LinkedIn request, said Quentin Fottrell in MarketWatch.com. While “Facebook may have stretched the definition of ‘friend’ to include even your second cousin’s chiropractor,” be more selective when it comes to professional networking sites like LinkedIn. The site itself suggests “that connections should be limited to people one has actual connections to,” and experts say “other users of the site may judge you by the number and quality of your connections” because they “are seen as an endorsement and reflect on your professional reputation.” That means you should check out “would-be connections” to make sure their digital trail won’t reflect poorly on you. Avoid connecting with rival companies, and beware of LinkedIn spammers who collect connections to mine your data.
Get a handle on money anxiety
To tame financial stress, take a few sensible steps, said Sharon Epperson in CNBC.com. The levels of household debt many Americans carry, ranging from college loans to credit card debt to large mortgages, can lead to constant financial anxiety. But there are three guiding principles that can help reduce your money worries. First and foremost, “don’t spend money that you don’t have.” It’s the only way to keep even more debt from piling up. When you do decide to splurge, “buy experiences, not things.” Studies say spending money on vacations or restaurant dinners can often be more satisfying than material things, whose appeal quickly dwindles. Finally, do your best to sock away something each month, ideally 10 percent of whatever you earn. “Sticking to this principle early can make a great impact in overcoming financial stress.”
Target’s credit card gaffe
Stay focused if you did any holiday shopping at Target, said Gregory Wallace in CNN.com. The big box retailer suffered a pre-Christmas hacking scandal in which credit and debit card data from 40 million accounts was stolen from its computers. The purloined data includes names, card numbers, expiration dates, security codes, and encrypted PINs for millions of customers who shopped between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15. If that could be you, look for a notice from Target, which is offering compromised customers free credit monitoring, a telephone hotline, and storewide discounts. Monitor your statements vigilantly for unauthorized transactions, and call Target, your bank, and your credit card company if you see any. In the meantime, “request a replacement card—if one isn’t already on the way—and change your PIN.”
Tips for preparing your 2013 return
Tax season is approaching quickly, said Beth Braverman in TheFiscalTimes.com. The IRS will begin accepting 2013 tax returns at the end of January, so “now’s the time to start thinking about and preparing” your annual paperwork. To avoid costly tax mistakes, start by putting down the pen and paper. The roughly 20 percent of filers who still fill out their returns the old-fashioned way are “much more likely to introduce math errors or simple mistakes.” If you hire a tax preparer, “look for someone who’s either a certified public accountant (CPA) or an enrolled agent (EA).” And don’t drag your heels if you’re eager for your tax refund. “Early filers get their refunds more quickly than laggards; plus, starting early gives you a time cushion if you discover missing documents or need to verify information.”
Cleaning up your credit score
A bad credit score can cost you, said Kelley Holland in CNBC.com. Experts say that a poor credit rating can cause a consumer’s interest rates to soar, adding tens of thousands of dollars to the cost of mortgages and other big loans. In fact, “a truly low score can make it impossible for you to obtain credit at any rate.” Insurance companies can refuse to issue policies, and employers still use credit scores to evaluate job applicants. To clean up your score, start by obtaining a copy of your own credit report. Write to the credit bureaus to correct any errors, and improve your financial habits. Pay bills on time, don’t carry a balance, and use no more than 30 percent of your available credit.
Personal loans go online
Need a loan? You might want to consider a peer-to-peer lending site, said Ann Carrns in The New York Times. Several new sites, including Prosper, LendingClub, and Karrot, offer loan seekers an online alternative to banks and pricey payday lenders by bringing together “borrowers who need financing and investors who have cash to lend.” The sites offer loans up to $35,000 with fixed interest rates, ranging from just over 6 percent to 35 percent, for terms of either three or five years. But consumers should keep in mind that these startups are aimed at “borrowers with credit scores that are considered prime,” or at least 640. Origination fees of 1 to 5 percent may also apply, and like most lenders, these companies report your record to the credit bureaus. “While the peer-to-peer label may suggest a friendlier approach,” you still need to take your payment deadlines seriously.
Tax credits for college grads
Recent college graduates would be wise to study up on tax breaks, said Daniel Huang in The Wall Street Journal. There are a number of “money-saving features in the tax code” that can offer them serious savings. Filers paying interest on student loans, for instance, may qualify for a deduction of up to $2,500. For those still in school, the lifetime learning credit “works as a ‘nonrefundable’ dollar-for-dollar reduction of one’s tax bill,” up to $2,000. And for grads who are relocating for a new job, some moving expenses can be written off as a deduction, though “the details can be tricky—and those taking it must meet stringent conditions imposed by the IRS.”
How to survive between jobs
If you are close to retirement age but between jobs, think twice before tapping into your retirement savings, said Liz Weston in Bankrate.com. Once older workers lose a job, they “tend to be unemployed longer than younger workers” and must often take a pay cut to find a new gig. If you do decide to withdraw some of your savings, calculate the withdrawals carefully. It’s best to choose more conservative withdrawal rates, because if new work doesn’t come along as fast as you hope, you might otherwise “put a major dent in your savings.” A good approach is to withdraw 3 percent of your total portfolio in that first year. That could translate into “a big cut in pay, yes, but it may be enough for you to live comfortably while you look for either parttime or full-time work.”
Insurance you don’t need
Sometimes it makes sense to skimp on insurance, said Aaron Crowe in DailyFinance .com. “You could almost insure every step you take in life,” but that doesn’t mean you should. Getting life or health insurance is a no-brainer. But in other cases, it might make more sense to start an emergency fund instead. Buying rental car insurance from the rental agency is often redundant—and expensive—since your credit card or auto insurance may cover you anyway. And speaking of cars, if you’re all paid up on an old car, skip the collision insurance. “If a car is totaled in an accident, insurers only pay the current value of the vehicle.” If your old clunker isn’t worth much, “you’re better off putting that collision premium in a fund to help you buy a new car when you need one.”
The consolidation conundrum
Debt consolidation loans can be a catch-22, said Gerri Detweiler in Credit.com. They’re a helpful “lifeline” for people with bad credit, but you need good credit to get one. Lenders typically factor in how much of your available credit you use, your debt-to-income ratio, and your payment history before approval. The first step toward improving your odds is to evaluate your credit reports “to see where you stand.” Once in the market, avoid products like payday loans, which carry high interest rates, and home equity loans, which may not be helpful if your equity in the home is low. Personal loans are a good bet, but “just make sure you are dealing with a reputable company.” And if all else fails, consider signing on with a credit-counseling agency. “You’ll only have to make one payment a month to the counseling agency, which in turn will pay all your participating creditors.”
Count expenses like calories
Are you making a basic budgeting blunder? asked Hank Coleman in DailyFinance.com. Believe it or not, even the most diligent bookkeepers can fail to track all their expenses. And one of the trickiest things to monitor is cash, which “has a way of leaking out of your pocket. You don’t remember where it went, and it’s easy to toss or misplace receipts.” The best way to keep your spending in line is to count expenses like you would calories. That means writing every transaction down in a notebook or on a spreadsheet. Once you’ve mastered the habit and gathered enough data, “analyzing several months of bank statements will show you where your money is going.”
The catch of co-branded cards
Steer clear of retail credit cards, said Jason Steele in Credit.com. These days, “nearly every retailer wants you to sign up for its cobranded credit card,” incentivizing sign-ups by offering discounts or interest-free financing. While “these cards can really work if you leverage the rewards and discounts,” they can also get customers into trouble if they don’t pay them off in full. So before signing up for a co-branded card, check out other options. Some banks offer even better credit financing, and some major cards offer points, miles, or cash-back rewards that dwarf retail cards’ sign-up discounts. And if you do decide to get a retail card, perhaps to purchase a big-ticket item, shop around first. Different stores may offer better promotional financing, so be sure to ask for a written application and “review the offer later at home.”
Protecting against lawsuits
Are your assets safe from lawsuits? asked Jonathan Clements in The Wall Street Journal. While getting sued may not be on everyone’s list of “financial fears,” the “risk can loom large” for small-business owners and the wealthy. But there are some precautions you can take. For example, small-business owners should incorporate, as that will make it “harder for creditors to take your share of the business to satisfy a personal debt.” And for wealthy individuals, consider putting your money into an asset-protection trust, where “distributions are at the discretion of a trustee, who could stop payouts” if you lose a lawsuit. Thanks to homestead exemptions, losing a legal battle won’t leave you on the street, but while some states have “robust” protections, “other states might protect only a portion of your home’s value.”
Dealing with problem employees
For bosses with subpar workers, these tips may help get them motivated, said Will Yakowicz in Inc.com. First, “don’t wait.” Experts say “underperformance is like an infection,” and a good boss must “treat it and help it heal, or else it will spread.” The key is to identify “specific improvements and goals” and create a framework for how to achieve them. “Agree on measurable actions and start tracking their progress,” but be realistic and “make sure you give ample time.” Finally, follow up. For workers who “turn their performance around, you should reward them.” But if improvement is nowhere in sight, it may be time to cut your losses.
Sprint’s half-off bills
Sprint has “kicked the wireless industry’s price war up a notch,” said Ryan Knutson in The Wall Street Journal. The carrier said last week it will let AT&T and Verizon subscribers pay half what they currently pay “in perpetuity if they switch from those carriers.” The half-off Sprint plans “would offer unlimited text and talk and however much data the subscribers were buying” from the rival telecoms. While there’s plenty of fine print—customers must turn in their old phones and buy new ones, for example—the move signals how desperate the country’s third-largest carrier is to “add subscribers after years of losing customers and money.” It also “ratchets up the pressure” on other carriers to slash prices and offer promotions of their own.
Resisting retailers’ credit cards
Don’t let yourself get bullied into opening a store-branded credit card you don’t need this holiday season, said John Wasik in Forbes .com. Retailers push these deals a lot this time of year and sweeten the sign-ups with discounts, betting that “many of us can’t resist this chance to save money.” But nearly half of consumers say they later regret their decision to open store cards. That’s no surprise, since the cards carry fees and interest rates that are often higher than those of ordinary credit cards, “so whatever money you would’ve saved on a purchase is consumed in interest on your monthly balance.” When considering a store card, stick to retailers where you shop “on a regular basis” and don’t open one if you plan to apply for a mortgage or car loan in the next six months. You can also compare retailers’ offers at Credit.com.
The drawbacks of mobile deposits
Depositing a paper check via a smartphone has become “one of the most popular features of mobile banking,” said Ann Carrns in The New York Times, but there are a few downsides. Some banks, for instance, don’t allow immediate access to the funds or cap how much you can deposit as a way to limit fraud. While such fraud is rare, it can be a headache. Consider endorsing your checks with the phrase “for mobile deposit only,” which “helps reduce the chance that someone could—intentionally or by accident—try to cash or redeposit the check.” Be careful with the leftover paper checks, too: Consult your bank’s rules about how long to keep them after making a mobile deposit, and put them in a safe place to guard against loss or theft.
Saving on a low income
Earning a small salary doesn’t mean you can’t build a sizable nest egg, said Emily Brandon in USNews.com. Putting money in an IRA not only allows you to sock away money for retirement, but it also helps you reduce your tax bill. For instance, “a worker in the 15 percent tax bracket who contributes $500 to a traditional IRA will save $75 in federal income taxes.” Low-income workers are also eligible for the saver’s tax credit, which can be worth up to 50 percent of your retirement account contributions, depending on your salary. Roth IRAs are another good option, because they let you pay taxes on your contributions at a lower rate now instead of in the future, when a higher-paying job might place you in a higher tax bracket.
Mortgage mistakes to avoid
Failing to do all of your homework when you are securing a mortgage “can prove especially damaging” to your financial future, said Chris Birk in Credit.com. Before you sign on the dotted line, get a handle on your credit. Check your credit reports for errors and know where you stand, because a better credit score can help you win a better deal from your mortgage lender. Investigate whether you qualify for any federal, state, and local home-buying assistance programs, such as those for veterans or rural residents. And remember to conduct a home inspection. They “aren’t mandatory,” but you can use the results “as a pivot point to renegotiate with the seller or walk away from the deal” if there’s a problem.
Firing your financial adviser
Breaking up is never easy, said Liz Moyer in The Wall Street Journal, even if it’s just with your financial adviser. But sometimes, it’s the best option for your portfolio. You might need new advice, for instance, “if your income and assets grow substantially or your family goes through major events such as a divorce.” Your investments’ performance should be another key benchmark: Ask how your portfolio is doing compared with the major indexes, and don’t hesitate to demand that fees be disclosed in writing. If you do decide to fire your adviser, be a “savvy client” and take stock of your needs before hiring a new one. “Think hard about what else an adviser can do beyond choosing investments,” such as helping you “prevent rash decisions” in a downturn or sticking to long-term savings goals.
200 Business Movement News
1. Banks: Deutsche Bank blasted for errors in reporting
The New York Fed isn’t impressed with Deutsche Bank, said David Enrich in The Wall Street Journal. In a 2013 letter that surfaced this week, Fed officials rebuked the German bank for its subpar reporting practices in U.S. filings, calling them “of low quality, inaccurate, and unreliable.” The Fed found “material errors and poor data integrity” in the bank’s public filings, including mistakes such as data-entry errors and miscalculations of risky loans, that expose the firm to “significant operational risk.” A spokesman for the bank said it has been “working diligently” to strengthen its controls.
2. Earnings: iPhone sales boost Apple’s profits
Apple’s third-quarter results this week were a mixed bag, said Adam Satariano in Bloomberg.com. Though the tech giant surpassed analysts’ expectations with a 12 percent rise in profits, the company disappointed Wall Street with its lackluster revenue, which grew just 6 percent. iPhone and Mac sales showed strong growth, but demand for iPads slid for a second quarter. Investors were left “buzzing” about Apple’s slew of upcoming products, rumored to include larger-screen iPhones, a smartwatch, and upgrades to its Apple TV set-top platform.
3. Housing: Home sales pick up speed
The real estate market is warming up, said Doug Carroll in USA Today. Existing-home sales climbed for the third straight month in June, hitting a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5 million. That’s the fastest annual pace since October, but it still lags behind last year’s numbers, and realtors say tight supply will “contribute to weaker sales for 2014.” Though home prices are rising, they are also growing “more slowly than a year ago,” with the median existing-home price reaching $223,300.
4. Tech: Microsoft slashes 18,000 jobs
Microsoft is shedding 14 percent of its workforce, said Paresh Dave in the Los Angeles Times. The computing giant said last week it will cut up to 18,000 jobs over the next year, marking “the biggest and broadest layoffs in the company’s 39-year-history.” The cuts, aimed at making the company faster and nimbler, will affect nearly half of Nokia’s mobile phone unit, which Microsoft acquired this year. “Nearly 13,000 job cuts will begin immediately, including about 1,350 losses at Microsoft headquarters” near Seattle, along with jobs from Nokia’s offices in Hungary, Finland, and China.
5. Airlines: JetBlue pilots to unionize
About 70 percent of JetBlue’s 2,500 pilots voted to join the Air Line Pilots Association this week, said Jack Nicas in The Wall Street Journal, causing the carrier’s shares to fall over fears that the decision will increase prices at the budget airline. The aviators “had twice before voted down union representation,” but pay raises at other U.S. carriers, coupled with JetBlue’s rapid expansion, “complicated the airline’s annual talks with its pilots.” The move leaves Virgin America as the only fully nonunion carrier among major U.S. airlines.
6. Media: Netflix plans price hike
Netflix is about to get more expensive, said Timothy Stenovec in HuffingtonPost.com. In a letter to shareholders this week, the company said it will raise prices for new members by “one or two” dollars per month. Existing subscribers won’t be affected “for a generous time period,” but Netflix said the hike is necessary “to acquire more content” and improve service. The price change is the first since 2011, when a similar effort caused subscribers to flee, share prices to sink, and Netflix CEO Reed Hastings to apologize to members.
7. Autos: Ford plans CEO succession
Ford is shaking up its C-suite, said Keith Naughton in Bloomberg.com. The second-largest U.S. carmaker will promote current Chief Operating Officer Mark Fields when current CEO Alan Mulally retires later this year. “The transition will bring an end to a storied chapter in Ford’s history, in which the automaker narrowly avoided bankruptcy thanks to Mulally’s management and a bet-the-business $23 billion loan.” The company is eyeing “an orderly transition of power” and plans to keep Mulally involved in “corporate governance or business policy.”
8. Tech: GitHub founder calls it quits
One of GitHub’s co-founders is resigning, said Claire Cain Miller in NYTimes.com. Tom Preston-Werner, who helped launch the code- sharing website, resigned this week “after an investigation into gender-based harassment.” Although GitHub said there was no evidence of “illegal wrongdoing,” its current CEO admitted there was “evidence of mistakes.” The allegations stem from an accusation by a former software designer that GitHub fostered “a culture of disrespect and intimidation.” At the time, her resignation was seen as “an example of the sexism and alpha-male culture that are endemic in software engineering.”
9. Retail: Home Depot breach wreaks havoc
Home Depot’s data breach is causing major headaches for its customers, said Robin Sidel in The Wall Street Journal. The home-improvement chain confirmed last week that 56 million credit cards may have been exposed during a five-month attack on its system, and fraudulent transactions have begun to hit consumers. In some cases, criminals have used the stolen card data to buy prepaid cards, electronics, and groceries; they have also siphoned cash from card owners’ bank accounts.
10. Food: Soda companies pledge to go low-cal
Soda companies are cutting calories in a bid to fight obesity, said Sam Frizell in Time.com. The country’s three largest soft-drink companies—Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Dr Pepper Snapple—said this week they plan to reduce the number of calories in their drinks 20 percent over the next decade by expanding their selection of low- and zero-calorie drinks and reducing portion sizes. The companies said the strategy will affect vending machines, grocery stores, and fountain-soda dispensers in fast-food restaurants and movie theaters.
11. Electronics: Philips to spin off lighting division
Philips is splitting in two, said Andrew Noel and Elco van Groningen in Bloomberg.com. The Dutch electronics giant said this week it will spin off its iconic lighting unit—123 years after making its first incandescent lightbulb—to focus on health-care equipment and consumer electronics. The decision follows a similar move by competitor Siemens AG, which spun off its lighting division last year, and analysts say General Electric could soon follow suit. The moves come as the lighting industry has shifted “toward LEDs, which are smaller and more energy efficient than traditional bulbs.”
12. Banking: Walmart to offer checking services
Walmart is entering the banking sector, said Laura Lorenzetti in Fortune.com. The discount retailer has teamed up with Green Dot, an issuer of prepaid debit cards, to offer low-cost checking accounts. The service, called GoBank, will grant banking access to most customers over 18 and carry no minimum balance requirement or overdraft fees—only a monthly $8.95 service fee, which is waived with a monthly direct deposit of $500 or more. The move marks Walmart’s first entry into the banking sector after years of pushing for more services for “the ‘under-banked,’ people with little or no access to traditional banking.”
13. Crime: Madoff associates guilty of fraud
They knew, said Joseph Ax in Reuters.com. A federal jury convicted five former aides to Bernard Madoff on charges that they “helped their boss conceal his multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme for years.” The defendants—the back-office director, two portfolio managers, and two computer programmers—were convicted on counts of securities fraud and conspiracy to defraud investors. The former employees maintained that they were “unwitting accomplices” duped by Madoff’s potent mix of “charm and deception.”
14. Banks: Investment exec leaves JPMorgan
Another senior executive is leaving JPMorgan Chase, said Michael J. de la Merced in NYTimes.com. Michael Cavanaugh, who co-heads the firm’s investment bank, is jumping ship to join the Carlyle Group in a newly created role of co-president. Cavanaugh’s departure from JPMorgan “is one of the most surprising” recent exits, since “he had long served as a top lieutenant” to the bank’s chief executive, Jamie Dimon, “and his ascent through the ranks had marked him as a potential successor.”
15. Media: Disney to buy Maker Studios
The Walt Disney Co. is snapping up one of YouTube’s largest content providers, said Ryan Faughnder in the Los Angeles Times. Disney announced this week that it will pay $500 million for Maker Studios, a Culver City–based digital media company with 380 million subscribers and 5.5 billion views per month over roughly 55,000 YouTube channels. Founded in 2009, the firm is best known for its short-form videos “aimed at Millennial viewers, who increasingly go online for video entertainment.”
16. Taxes: IRS deems Bitcoins ‘property’
The taxman has spoken, said Richard Rubin and Carter Dougherty in Bloomberg.com. In “its first substantive ruling on the issue,” the Internal Revenue Service said this week that it will treat Bitcoins “as property” for tax purposes, applying the same rules used to “govern stocks and barter transactions.” The distinction may limit Bitcoin’s utility as a digital currency, but owners may benefit as profits from transactions will be taxed as capital gains, with a cap of 20 percent, and not as ordinary income, which is subject to a top tax rate of 39.6 percent.
17. Economy: First quarter GDP shrank 2.9 percent
It was worse than we thought, said Jim Puzzanghera in the Los Angeles Times. In its “third and final revision,” the Commerce Department said the U.S. gross domestic product contracted at an annualized rate of 2.9 percent during the first three months of 2014, marking the worst contraction since the Great Recession. Bad winter weather continued to bear the blame, and while economists expect the second quarter to bump growth to 3.5 percent, “the horrible start to 2014 will drag down the year’s overall economic output.”
18. Retail: Barnes & Noble to spin off Nook
Barnes & Noble and its Nook e-reader are parting ways, said Lauren Coleman-Lochner and Lindsey Rupp in Businessweek.com. “Facing declining sales” in both businesses, the bookseller announced this week that it will split the units “into separately traded companies in a bid to improve performance.” The move follows years of “prodding by investors, who say the two businesses will be more valuable on their own.” The share price reflected that sentiment, jumping 11 percent after the announcement.
19. Energy: U.S. loosens ban on oil exports
The Obama administration has “opened the door” to the first U.S. oil exports in 40 years, said Zain Shauk, Dan Murtaugh, and Rakteem Katakey in Bloomberg.com. In a ruling issued this week, the Commerce Department “widened its definition of what’s traditionally been considered a refined product eligible for shipping to customers abroad,” allowing for the export of lightly processed crude known as condensate. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) called the move a “first step” that could lead to wider approval of oil exports, which the U.S. restricted in 1975 in the wake of the Arab oil embargo.
20. Autos: Faulty airbags prompt major recalls
Carmakers are bracing for yet another major recall, said Hiroko Tabuchi and Christopher Jensen in The New York Times. Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Mazda, Ford, Chrysler, and BMW announced recalls of more than 3 million cars this week thanks to faulty airbags that “could rupture and send debris flying inside a car.” The airbags, manufactured by Japan’s Takata Corp., have been linked to more than 30 injuries and two deaths in the U.S. Faulty seatbelts manufactured by Takata also “forced recalls of almost 9 million cars in the 1990s.”
21. Commodities: Banks’ big stakes in raw materials
A two-year Senate investigation has concluded that three major U.S. banks built up large and risky stakes in the commodities markets that gave them unfair advantages, said Neil Hume in FT.com. Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and JPMorgan Chase bought large holdings of essential commodities—including dozens of power stations, oil storage tanks, and millions of tons of aluminum—which allowed them to influence commodity prices and obtain early market information, lawmakers said. The banks denied exploiting advantages from the holdings.
22. World: China and EU try to boost economies
The central banks of China and the euro zone are trying to “pump up flagging global growth,” said Jon Hilsenrath in The Wall Street Journal. The People’s Bank of China last week slashed interest rates for deposits and loans, the first cuts since 2012, in a bid to juice its slowing economy. The European Central Bank also signaled it may soon start buying up bonds to boost inflation and growth in the euro zone. The banks’ moves, which come as the Federal Reserve ends its own six-year program of large bond purchases, suggest policymakers might be “growing more desperate as they confront weakening domestic prospects.”
23. Companies: United Tech CEO steps down
In “an abrupt change that caught Wall Street off guard,” United Technologies’ CEO called it quits this week, said Lewis Krauskopf in Reuters.com. The $100 billion manufacturing conglomerate did not provide a reason for the departure of Louis Chenevert, CEO since 2008, but said it was “unrelated” to the firm’s financial performance. Chenevert’s exit prompted the company, maker of Otis elevators, Pratt & Whitney jet engines, and Sikorsky helicopters, to name Greg Hayes, the firm’s chief financial officer, to the top role.
24. Technology: Fab.com up for grabs in fire sale
Fab.com, once a Silicon Valley darling, is for sale, said Max Nisen in Qz.com. The flash sales site, which was valued at $1 billion just last year, may soon be sold off to Irish manufacturing company PCH International in a deal worth “as little as $15 million.” Fab’s “crash has been just as epic as its rise.” Just three years old, it morphed from a gay dating site to home décor sales, but then struggled in the niche market and lost several top executives. It then tried a “drastic restructuring” focused on more traditional e-commerce, but that effort also foundered.
25. Banks: IMF chief under investigation
Another IMF chief, another scandal, said Helene Fouquet and Mark Deen in Bloomberg.com. Federal prosecutors are investigating International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde for her conduct during a 2008 arbitration case, when she served as finance minister under French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Lagarde, who announced the investigation this week, has denied any wrongdoing but “faces a rarely used minor charge of negligence in the use of public funds,” which could lead to a year in prison and a $20,000 fine.
26. Markets: S&P 500 hits record high
“Wall Street’s record-setting rally” isn’t slowing down, said David Carrig in USA Today. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index “notched its 30th record of the year” this week, closing above 2,000 for the first time. All three major indexes—the S&P 500, the Dow Jones industrial average, and the Nasdaq composite index—have seen a rally lately, “as investors bet on signs of an improving U.S. economy and react to better-than-expected second-quarter earnings.” The S&P’s companies alone “have posted profit growth of 8.4 percent” since April 1.
27. Airlines: American pulls flights from Orbitz
American Airlines is ditching Orbitz, said Gregory Karp in the Chicago Tribune. The carrier withdrew its fare-and-schedule listings from the travel-booking site this week after talks for a new contract between the two firms failed. The move could be a big blow to Orbitz, since American and its merger partner, US Airways, “account for a quarter of the U.S. travel market.” Online booking companies are also losing out to airlines’ own websites. Experts say that by next year, “about two thirds of all noncorporate travel bookings will be conducted through airline websites.”
28. Retail: Best Buy sales slipping
“Amazon is eating Best Buy’s lunch,” said Paul R. La Monica in CNN.com. The big-box retailer reported its quarterly sales this week, disappointing Wall Street analysts. Best Buy blamed the dip on “showrooming,” whereby customers visit brick-and-mortar stores “to check out TVs, smartphones, or tablets” only to go home and buy them online. But it wasn’t all bad: The retailer earned $3.1 billion last quarter, nearly twice its profits from a year ago. And while customers are visiting stores less frequently, Best Buy’s online sales jumped 22 percent.
29. Autos: Tesla gets junk credit rating
Standard & Poor’s doesn’t have much faith in Tesla, said Matt Robinson in Bloomberg.com. The credit rating agency slapped the electric-car company with a junk credit rating this week because of “considerable uncertainty” about the automaker’s long-term outlook. In a statement, S&P blamed Tesla’s small size, “narrower product focus, and limited demand for its products.” A spokeswoman for the carmaker—whose shares have risen 41 percent this year, but slowed after poor first-quarter sales—dismissed the rating, saying it was developed “without any feedback from Tesla on our growth plans.”
30. Social media: Facebook wants EU antitrust review
Here’s an “unexpected twist,” said Tom Fairless and Sam Schechner in The Wall Street Journal. Facebook has asked the European Commission to launch an antitrust review of its recent $19 billion acquisition of WhatsApp, which “raised concerns among Europe’s telecom companies.” Experts said the move may be part of a plan to avoid antitrust probes in individual EU countries, where the deal “would face vigorous lobbying” from national telecom companies. Such firms have warned that owning the budget text- and picture-messaging service “would give Facebook a dominant position in the market for instant messaging.”
31. Mergers: Pfizer walks away from AstraZeneca
Pfizer is throwing in the towel, said Ben Hirschler and Bill Berkrot in Reuters.com. Following “a months-long public fight,” Pfizer said it was giving up plans to acquire AstraZeneca after its smaller British rival rejected a $118 billion buyout offer. The deal, which would have boosted Pfizer’s cancer-drug portfolio and allowed the U.S. drugmaker to access overseas cash reserves while avoiding high taxes, “ran into fierce opposition” from politicians on both sides of the Atlantic “over the likelihood that the marriage would lead to thousands of job cuts.”
32. Food: McDonald’s plans share buyback
McDonald’s is serving billions back to investors, said Victoria Craig in FoxBusiness.com. At an investor conference this week, the fast food chain “announced plans to return up to $20 billion to its shareholders by 2016 through dividends and stock buybacks”—almost 20 percent more than it doled out between 2011 and 2013. The company said it also plans to refranchise at least 1,500 restaurants by the end of 2016, mainly in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and the Asia-Pacific region.
33. Retail: A&F splits chairman and CEO roles
Teen-clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch is shaking things up, said Lindsey Rupp in Bloomberg.com. The company stripped CEO Mike Jeffries of his title as chairman this week, apparently yielding to pressure from activist investor Engaged Capital LLC, which owns less than 1 percent of A&F’s shares but has been a vocal critic of Jeffries. The company’s sales have declined for three straight quarters, and “Jeffries has been struggling to reconnect with the chain’s customers, who have become less enamored of its fashions and half-naked models.”
34. Data: U.S. eases disclosure rules for Internet firms
The Justice Department said it will allow tech companies “to publicize—in broad terms—how much customer information they must turn over to the government,” said Craig Timberg and Adam Goldman in The Washington Post. The new policy “amounts to a modest victory” for companies like Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, and Yahoo, which had been prohibited from disclosing “their obligations under government surveillance programs.” The companies will be allowed to report, to the nearest thousand, how many national security letters and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court orders they receive.
35. Airlines: American earnings beat expectations
American Airlines is soaring to profitability, said Karen Jacobs in Reuters.com. Now the world’s largest carrier since its merger with US Airways last year, American reported better-than-expected profits and revenues for the fourth quarter this week, thanks largely to rising fares and falling fuel costs. Excluding a $2.4 billion charge tied to its emergence from bankruptcy last year, the merged airline’s combined profit hit $436 million, compared with a loss of $42 million a year earlier.
36. Crime: Feds bust Bitcoin exchange CEO
The “founder of a prominent Bitcoin exchange company” is behind bars, said Gerry Smith in HuffingtonPost.com. Federal prosecutors in New York City last week arrested Charlie Shrem, the 24-year-old chief executive of BitInstant, on money laundering and related charges. BitInstant’s investors include Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, “who are famous for claiming that Mark Zuckerberg stole their idea for Facebook.” Shrem is accused of scheming to sell more than $1 million in Bitcoins to customers on Silk Road, the defunct, Bitcoin-powered drug website that federal officials shut down in October.
37. Banks: JPMorgan slashes jobs
More bankers are about to lose their jobs, said Bruce Horovitz in USA Today. "The financial world took a jolt" this week when JPMorgan Chase, the largest U.S. bank, said it would cut 8,000 jobs in consumer and community banking because of reduced demand for refinancing. The company said it would make up for some of the CutS by creating 3,000 new positions across the company, including in its compliance department. "Overall, the bank's head count is expected to fall by 5,000 in 2014 to about 260,000, including employees and contractors."
38. Media: Olympics viewership falls off
Are the Olympics losing their luster? asked Christopher S. Stewart in The Wall Street Journal. Viewership of NBC's two-week broadcast of the Sochi Games was down 12 percent from the last Winter Games, in Vancouver, but up 6 percent from the 2006 Games in Turin, the network said this week. NBC says the drop was expected, since it was "able to air Vancouver events live during prime time in the U.S.," but could not do so for the Games in Turin or Sochi. And despite the ratings drop, "the audiences for the Games were relatively large for traditional TV, which in recent years has seen viewership fragment among cable channels and the Web."
39. Tech: Netflix pays more to Comcast
Netflix is shelling out for better service, said Dawn Chmielewski in the Los Angeles Times. The streaming service has agreed to pay Comcast an unspecified amount to ensure that its "movies and TV shows stream seamlessly" to subscribers. Critics say the deal "may pave the way for similar arrangements" with other Internet service providers, such as Verizon and AT&T, which may now see a new way to "extract payment" for providing preferential treatment. Consumer advocates and technology experts worry that those extra costs could "eventually be passed on to consumers."
40. Retail: Men's Wearhouse chasing Jos. A. Bank
Men's Wearhouse is dressing up its bid to buy rival Jos. A. Bank, said Jesse Solomon in CNN.com. The retailer increased its offer to take over its competitor this week, boosting its buyout offer by more than 10 percent to $1.78 billion. The new price is a 15 percent premium over Jos. A. Banks' closing price at the time of the offer, and comes after the retailer rejected the menswear giant'S earlier bids.
41. Airlines: Falling fuel prices boost profits
Airline profits are taking off, said Susan Carey and Jack Nicas in The Wall Street Journal. Five of the country’s biggest carriers—American, United, Southwest, Delta, and JetBlue—reported strong quarterly earnings last week, in large part because of falling jet fuel prices, which have plunged 15 percent since September. The uplifting news helped temper “recent worries that the U.S. airline industry’s turnaround was faltering,” thanks to “concerns about the Ebola outbreak, signs of global economic wobbles, and worries that air carriers were adding too many seats on international flights.”
42. Automobiles: Fiat to spin off Ferrari
Fiat Chrysler is parting ways with Ferrari, said Brent Snavely in the Detroit Free Press. After “several years of denials by CEO Sergio Marchionne,” the carmaker said this week it would spin off Ferrari into a separate, publicly traded company next year. Fiat will hold a public offering to sell 10 percent of its interest in the exclusive automotive brand and distribute the remaining shares to Fiat shareholders in a deal that “could help Fiat Chrysler raise additional capital” to reduce its debt.
43. Tech: Twitter’s revenue rises, but usage stalls
Wall Street is cooling on Twitter, said Jessica Guynn in USA Today. Shares in the microblogging platform fell more than 10 percent this week, after the company reported meager growth in sign-ups and usage in the third quarter. Though the company’s quarterly revenue of $361 million was double that of a year ago and exceeded analysts’ expectations, Wall Street remains concerned that the social network’s ability to attract and retain users is waning.
44. Economy: Commodity prices drop
Commodity prices are “falling fast,” said Chris Giles in the Financial Times. The International Monetary Fund estimates that global commodity prices are 8.3 percent lower now than at the start of the year, and the Bloomberg commodity index, which tracks the prices of oil, corn, iron ore, coal, cotton, and copper, hit its lowest level in five years this week. The price declines are caused by “a weakening global economy, including a slowing China,” and the effects are likely to be mixed. Lower prices should spur consumer spending and economic growth but also hurt commodities producers.
45. Tech: Twitter adds users, boosts revenue
Twitter’s “growing pains may be easing,” said Yoree Koh in The Wall Street Journal. The microblogging platform posted strong results across the board in the second quarter, adding 16 million active users and doubling its revenue to $312 million. Although the company still remains unprofitable, the latest figures have “quieted its doubters, at least for now.” New types of mobile ads are helping beef up revenue, and the company is experimenting with new page and product designs to improve user engagement.
46. Labor: Workers score against McDonald’s
McDonald’s may be on the hook for the sins of its franchises, said Lydia DePillis in WashingtonPost.com. The National Labor Relations Board ruled this week that the fast-food chain can be named as a joint employer in dozens of worker complaint cases against franchised restaurants’ labor practices, including “jilting workers of their wages and retaliating against those who went on strike.” The decision could have “far-reaching implications” for millions of low-wage workers who want to unionize by giving them one large company, “rather than just a bunch of little employers,” with which to bargain and contract.
47. Airlines: Virgin America plans IPO
Virgin America is going public, said Ben Mutzabaugh in USA Today. The air carrier, which launched in 2007 and is backed by British tycoon Richard Branson, filed for an initial public offering this week, a move it says will help finance future growth. Virgin America flies to about two dozen cities in the U.S. and Mexico, with hubs in San Francisco and Los Angeles, and consistently ranks highly in passenger surveys for customer service and flight amenities.
48. Retail: Dollar Tree buys Family Dollar for $8.5B
Discount retailers are duking it out over poorer consumers, said Paul Ziobro and Shelly Banjo in The Wall Street Journal. Dollar Tree announced this week it would pay $8.5 billion to acquire its North Carolina–based rival, Family Dollar. The merged company will include more than 13,000 stores “that can squeeze better deals out of its suppliers, giving it more heft to compete against” its larger dollar-store rival Dollar General and “any fresh moves” by Walmart and Target. Discount chains have “thrived during the recession as the number of working Americans living in poverty increased by nearly 40 percent.”
49. Pharma: Drug giants plan $100B merger
After a failed bid earlier this year, said Charles Riley in CNN.com, Pfizer is again eyeing its British rival AstraZeneca. The proposed $100 billion acquisition would mark the biggest-ever foreign takeover of a British company, and the largest pharmaceutical acquisition since Pfizer bought Warner-Lambert for $112 billion in 2000. While AstraZeneca has said Pfizer’s offer is “very significantly undervalued,” publicly disclosing the bid “could help force” AstraZeneca to negotiate. The deal would snag a larger cancer drug portfolio for Pfizer, and by moving assets overseas, drastically reduce the company’s tax liabilities.
50. Markets: Twitter stocks tank on Q1 earnings
Twitter shares are taking a tumble, said Sarah Frier in Bloomberg.com. The microblogging platform announced its first-quarter earnings this week, reporting slowed user growth and pushing down the stock price. While sales more than doubled, hitting $250 million, the company added just 14 million new active monthly users last quarter, better than last fall but still disappointing Wall Street. As a result, the share price “plunged as much as 13 percent in early trading,” hitting $37.24—“the lowest price since Twitter started trading in November.”
51. Acquisitions: Dueling bids for French train-maker
A bidding war is heating up over Alstom, said Matthieu Protard and Maria Sheahan in Reuters.com. The French train-maker’s board accepted a $14 billion bid from General Electric for its energy unit this week, but the company “is also set to receive an offer” from its German competitor Siemens AG. The two bids sparked “a fierce national debate” in France, prompting the government to announce that it favors the Siemens offer, which “would create two European sector champions: Siemens in electricity and Alstom in trains.”
52. Economy: U.S. GDP growth stays stagnant
“Cold weather froze the U.S. economy in its tracks” last quarter, said Sam Frizell in Time.com. Due to severe winter weather that “depressed business investment and home construction,” GDP growth fell to just 0.1 percent—“the slowest three-month growth in the economy since the end of 2012.” While the news disappointed analysts, the Commerce Department said “consumer spending, the biggest driver of economic growth in the United States, actually grew 3 percent.” But those gains were offset by decreases in nonresidential investment and exports.
53. Media: An end to the Amazon-Disney feud?
Disney and Amazon may be close to a truce, said Ben Fritz and Greg Bensinger in The Wall Street Journal. Since early August, Amazon has not allowed preorders of Disney DVDs on its site, as a result of disagreements between the two companies over pricing, promotion on Amazon, and questions over who makes up the difference when Amazon loses money matching competitors’ prices. An end to the standoff hasn’t been announced, but Disney titles like Maleficient and Guardians of the Galaxy quietly returned to Amazon.com last week.
54. Banks: Trial begins over AIG bailout
The bailout of AIG is having its day in court, said Kevin McCoy in USA Today. A group of AIG investors has accused the government of cheating shareholders when Washington stepped in to rescue the failing insurance giant with a $182 billion taxpayer bailout. The investors say other firms got billions of dollars in federal loans and remained independent, even as the government took control of AIG. The trial is expected to feature testimony from key government decision-makers involved in the bailout, including former Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and his successor, Timothy Geithner.
55. Taxes: EU blasts Ireland for Apple tax breaks
The European Union wants Apple to pay up, said Alex Barker in the Financial Times. The European Commission issued a scathing critique this week of Irish tax deals that have underpinned Apple’s European operations, accusing Ireland of giving the tech firm favorable and potentially illegal terms apparently “motivated by employment considerations.” The allegations of illegal tax breaks dating back to 1991 might prove costly for Apple, which could be required to pay billions in back taxes to the Irish government if the accusations pan out.
56. Tech: BlackBerry results point toward turnaround
BlackBerry may be making a comeback, said Gerrit De Vynck in Bloomberg.com. The struggling smartphone maker posted a narrowerthan-expected second-quarter loss last week, thanks to “cost cuts and stabilizing smartphone sales,” after months of restructuring that included layoffs, a new CEO, and a shift in focus from consumer handsets to the enterprise market. Last week, the company debuted its first new handset in two years, the Passport, aimed at customers in industries like banking, health care, and government.
57. Regulators: FBI targets high-frequency trading
The Feds have high-speed traders in their crosshairs, said Scott Patterson and Michael Rothfeld in The Wall Street Journal. The FBI “is probing whether high-speed trading firms are engaging in insider trading by taking advantage of fast-moving market information unavailable to other investors.” While the FBI’s investigation “is still in its early stages,” the probe comes amid similar inquiries by New York’s attorney general and federal regulators, which are scrutinizing whether highspeed firms gain unfair advantages or work to manipulate markets.
58. Fed: Yellen confirms continued low rates
Janet Yellen is doing damage control, said Jeff Kearns and Craig Torres in Bloomberg.com. During a speech in Chicago this week, the Federal Reserve chair doubled down on the central bank’s pledge to keep interest rates low, “easing investor concern” by saying the U.S. economy “will need Fed stimulus for ‘some time.’” Stocks were buoyed by Yellen’s remarks just weeks after she inadvertently spooked investors by suggesting a timeline for when “the Fed might start raising the benchmark interest rate above zero.”
59. Banks: BofA settles mortgage claims for $9.3B
Bank of America is ponying up, said Margaret Chadbourn and Aruna Viswanatha in Reuters.com. The nation’s second-largest bank said last week that it will pay $9.3 billion “to settle claims that it sold Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac faulty mortgage bonds.” The bank also settled a suit with New York’s attorney general that alleged “it misled investors about mounting losses at Merrill Lynch & Co.,” which BofA acquired during the financial crisis. The firm also acknowledged that it is working to resolve other cases with the U.S. Department of Justice and states over mortgage-backed securities.
60. Tech: Apple and Samsung duke it out
“Two of the largest smartphone-makers in the world” are squaring off again, said Brian Feldman in TheWire.com. Apple and Samsung were in court this week “over new claims of patent infringement,” after the iPhone-maker accused Samsung of stealing features “such as slide-tounlock, autocomplete, and universal search.” But the latest dispute could also impact Google, maker of “the Android operating system that Samsung uses.” The tech giant may be forced to implement “across-theboard changes” to its mobile OS if Samsung loses the suit.
61. Regulators: Barclays faces dark pool suit
New York regulators are diving into dark pools, said Karen Freifeld, John McCrank, and Steve Slater in Reuters.com. The state attorney general filed a securities fraud lawsuit against Barclays last week, accusing the British bank of deceiving customers by executing stock orders on a “dark pool” trading system designed to maximize the bank’s profits. So-called “dark pools were originally created to allow investors to execute big trades without tipping off the market,” but as more trading moves to dark pools, “critics say the opacity of the markets may be resulting in more and more investors getting ripped off.”
62. Tech: Google snaps up Songza streaming service
Google is stepping up its music streaming business, said Brian Womack in Bloomberg.com. In an effort to lure listeners away from rival Apple, Google has set its eyes on Songza Media, a music streaming startup that it plans to integrate “into its Google Play music services and other properties,” including YouTube. Like Pandora, Songza “selects tunes for listeners” but curates its playlists “based on a person’s activities and the time of day.” The companies did not disclose the terms of the deal.
63. Retail: CEO battle heats up at American Apparel
American Apparel’s ousted CEO is plotting his comeback, said Shan Li and Walter Hamilton in the Los Angeles Times. Two weeks after the retailer fired its founder and former CEO, Dov Charney’s “quest to take back the clothing company” has “gained surprising traction.” Charney has borrowed almost $20 million “to boost his ownership stake to 43 percent.” He “still faces an uphill battle,” but Charney’s “stock-buying spree” may give him more leverage to “force the board to sit down with him” or add new directors to reinstate him.
64. LGBT: Labor Dept. to protect transgender workers
Two years after the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said sex discrimination protection for workers extended to those of transgender status, the Labor Department is taking note, said Chris Geidner in BuzzFeed .com. In a blog post this week, Labor Secretary Tom Perez said the department “will issue guidance” to clarify that “discrimination based on transgender status is discrimination based on sex” and vowed to update the department’s protocols, which enforce against sex discrimination for federal contractors.
65. Autos: Black Friday boosts car sales
November was a banner month for U.S. auto sales, said Madeline O’Leary in Businessweek.com. Chrysler, General Motors, and Honda all reported strong sales of trucks, SUVs, and sedans, owing to holiday-season deals and falling gas prices. Overall, vehicle sales hit an annualized selling pace of 17.2 million vehicles in November, the strongest pace for the month in 11 years. Auto executives expect the impressive sales to continue in the coming months, as a result of an improving economy, low interest rates, and U.S. job gains.
66. Art: Christie’s names first woman CEO
Christie’s stunned the art world this week when it announced CEO Steven Murphy’s abrupt exit, said Mary Romano in Bloomberg.com. The London-based auction house set a record for the biggest auction in history just last month, selling more than $850 million of contemporary art in two hours. Rival Sotheby’s just weeks ago ousted its own boss, William Ruprecht; it is rare for the top jobs at the houses to change at the same time. Christie’s has named Patricia Barbizet, the longtime lieutenant of owner François Pinault, as the company’s first female CEO.
67. Education: For-profit college chain changes hands
A troubled for-profit college chain is selling some of its campuses to a major student loan debt collector, said Chelsey Dulaney and Alan Zibel in The Wall Street Journal. Corinthian Colleges, which has drawn the ire of government regulators for deceptive marketing practices, is selling more than half of its 107 campuses for $24 million to the ECMC Group, which collects debts on federal student loans. The ECMC Group has pledged to turn the campuses into nonprofit schools serving nearly 40,000 students. Student advocates, however, worry that the company has no experience providing educational services.
68. Tech: Apple iTunes trial gets underway
Steve Jobs will soon testify from beyond the grave, said Dan Simon in CNN.com. The former Apple CEO, who died of pancreatic cancer in 2011, will make a posthumous guest appearance in court in coming weeks through “a never-before-seen video deposition” about iTunes contracts with music labels. The testimony, along with a number of Jobs’s emails, is evidence in a class-action suit accusing Apple of violating antitrust laws by not allowing music sold in other digital stores to play on iPods sold from 2006 to 2009.
69. Health: CVS pulls tobacco products from shelves
CVS customers will have to shop elsewhere to satisfy their cigarette habit, said Peter Frost in the Chicago Tribune. The pharmacy chain officially yanked tobacco products from its 7,700 locations this week, part of a rebranding aimed at grabbing a bigger slice of the health-care market. The chain also changed its moniker from “CVS Caremark” to “CVS Health.” The move is expected to cost the chain more than $1.5 billion in annual tobacco sales, but executives hope to recoup the lost dollars with gains from walk-in clinics and other health-care services.
70. Economy: Manufacturing hits three-year high
U.S. factories are gaining momentum, said Jeanna Smialek in Bloomberg.com. The Institute for Supply Management said last week that its measure of factory output climbed last month to its highest level in three years. The growth was driven by a surge in orders for plastics and metals, thanks to “a rebound in auto sales and stronger business spending on new plants and equipment.” Increased spending on construction projects also contributed to the gain.
71. Washington: Ex-majority leader joins investment firm
Eric Cantor is decamping for Wall Street, said Fred Barbash in The Washington Post. The former House majority leader, who was ousted by a Tea Party challenger in his Virginia district’s June primary, has taken a job with New York City investment firm Moelis & Co., which advises companies on mergers, acquisitions, and risk. Though Cantor “does not have a Wall Street background,” the former lawyer “was considered a friend of Wall Street in Congress.” While in Washington, the seven-term congressman raised more than $3 million from the investment industry.
72. Retail: Home Depot investigates possible hack
Home Depot may be the latest victim of a customer data breach, said Elizabeth Weise in USA Today. Hackers on a website that traffics in stolen data offered up “a massive batch of credit and debit card information” for sale this week, a trove that security experts believe may have originated from the hardware chain. The breach could be linked to hackers responsible for data thefts at Target and P.F. Chang’s that affected more than 70 million consumers. In a statement, Home Depot said it is still investigating the reported hack.
73. Pharma: Allergan takeover heats up
The bid for Botox-maker Allergan is about to get hostile, said Rod Nickel and Ransdell Pierson in Reuters.com. The hedge fund Pershing Square, which owns 9.7 percent of Allergan, is teaming up with Valeant Pharmaceuticals in its $53.8 billion takeover bid. Pershing CEO Bill Ackman told investors this week that the wheels are turning to take Valeant’s bid straight to shareholders, setting the stage for a proxy battle that could push the deal through. Allergan said it is considering Valeant’s offer, but “urged shareholders not to act on the bid until its board makes a recommendation.”
74. Currency: Lithuania moves to adopt euro
Lithuania is trading in its litas, said Peter Spiegel in the Financial Times. The Baltic nation “cleared its most important hurdle” in adopting the EU’s common currency this week after the European Commission reported that the former Soviet republic “had fulfilled all requirements needed to join the euro.” While other parties still need to sign off, “Lithuanian membership is expected to sail through.” That’s a big change from 2006, when Lithuania became the only EU country to be refused euro membership because of high inflation.
75. Finance: Banks shed light on dark pools
Once opaque, so-called dark pools are getting more transparent, said Bradley Hope and Scott Patterson in The Wall Street Journal. Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse published reports this week on their dark pools, the lightly regulated trading venues that “execute trades away from stock exchanges.” Such revelations may curb “the ‘mysterious and elusive’ reputation of dark pools,” which benefit big traders by allowing them to trade stocks without moving prices as much as they would if their orders were posted on an exchange.
76. Economy: U.S. car sales surge
With demand for SUVs and trucks driving sales, automakers are feeling encouraged, said Tom Krisher and Dee-Ann Durbin in the Associated Press. Chrysler, Nissan, Toyota, Ford, Hyundai, and even General Motors—despite its ongoing recall woes—all reported strong sales last month. Overall car sales jumped 11 percent to more than 1.6 million in May, the highest monthly total since July 2005. Experts expect more good news throughout the summer, thanks to “low interest rates, good lease deals, and enticing new vehicles.”
77. Health: CVS drops tobacco products
CVS is kicking the habit, said Phil Wahba and Julie Steenhuysen in Reuters.com. The drugstore chain said this week that it would quit selling tobacco products at its 7,600 stores by October, “becoming the first national drugstore chain in the United States to take cigarettes off the shelf.” The move is expected to cost CVS—the country’s secondlargest drugstore chain—roughly $2 billion in annual sales, but analysts say that loss will hardly figure in its projected revenue, and may even “strengthen its position as a health-care provider” through its Caremark subsidiary.
78. Retail: RadioShack to close 500 stores
Say goodbye to your RadioShack, said Emily Glazer in The Wall Street Journal. Sources say the electronics retailer is planning to close around 500 of its 4,300 stores within the next few months. “The news was a cold dose of reality after the upbeat feeling generated” by RadioShack’s Super Bowl ad, which “poked fun at its outdated image.” RadioShack has been taking a new approach to transform “its image from an old-school electronics store into a destination for shoppers looking for entertainment gadgets.”
79. Autos: Aston Martin recalls cars
Aston Martin owners may need to head back to the showroom, said Henry Foy in the Financial Times. The British car manufacturer has recalled almost 18,000 cars—roughly 75 percent of the cars it has built since 2008—“after discovering that a Chinese supplier had used fake materials in its cars’ accelerator pedals.” The supplier had reportedly used plastic that was “not of industrial quality” in manufacturing the part, making it more liable to break and prompting Aston Martin to recall the cars and shift production back to the U.K.
80. Media: HBO still bigger than Netflix
Don’t count HBO out just yet, said Todd Spangler in Variety.com. While Netflix has been growing at blazing speeds, HBO “remains significantly more profitable.” The 41-year-old cable network’s parent company, Time Warner, “broke out HBO’s financial results for the first time” this week, revealing $1.3 billion in revenue for the last quarter of 2013. “HBO remains in a league of its own,” said Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes, adding that the company hasn’t seen “any discernible effect” on its business from streaming services like Netflix.
81. Acquisitions: Facebook to buy Titan Aerospace
Facebook is getting into the drone business, said Sarah Perez and Josh Constine in TechCrunch.com. The social networking company is working on a $60 million deal to buy Titan Aerospace, which manufactures “near-orbital, solar-powered drones which can fly for five years without needing to land.” Though dwarfed by Facebook’s recent $19 billion purchase of WhatsApp, a Titan deal would be a coup for the tech giant, which “is interested in using these high-flying drones to blanket parts of the world without Internet access.”
82. Fashion: J. Crew in talks with Fast Retailing
The owners of Uniqlo may soon snap up J. Crew, said Mike Spector and Dana Mattioli in The Wall Street Journal. Fast Retailing—the Japanese firm that owns Uniqlo, Helmut Lang, Theory, and others—“approached J. Crew’s management about potentially buying the private-equity-owned business.” The U.S. retailer “is seeking upward of $5 billion,” but it’s unclear whether Fast Retailing would pay that much. The talks “heated up” last week in the wake of J. Crew’s owners’ discussion of taking the apparel chain public. Sources said the firm recently asked Goldman Sachs Group “to begin work on a potential IPO,” although “planning hasn’t progressed beyond that.”
83. Retail: RadioShack to shutter more stores
RadioShack is planning to close more stores, said Paul Davidson and John Waggoner in USA Today. The electronics retailer announced this week that it would close up to 1,100 “poorly performing stores,” or approximately 20 percent of its locations, “as part of an effort to remake itself for a more competitive era.” The news comes on the heels of sharply declining revenues and led to a 15 percent slip in the chain’s stock price.
84. Tech: GrubHub files $100 million IPO
The takeout-food-ordering site GrubHub is going public, said Jessica Wohl in the Chicago Tribune. The company, which merged with rival Seamless last year, has officially “filed for an initial public offering of up to $100 million.” According to its filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the firm’s revenue and user base “soared last year,” but rising costs have put a dent in profits. The firm is expected to list on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol GRUB.
85. Midterms: New hopes for tax reform, trade deals
A Republican takeover of Congress has given businesses fresh hope for “attention on corporate taxes, immigration, trade, and energy—top priorities that have eluded breakthroughs in recent years,” said John McKinnon in The Wall Street Journal. GOP leaders, President Obama, and business groups have all expressed interest in reforming the corporate tax code and in passing new trade deals with Asia-Pacific countries and the European Union. Business groups also plan to push for an overhaul of immigration laws and approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, which President Obama has repeatedly delayed.
86. Tech: Alibaba delivers growth in first post-IPO report
Alibaba’s first earnings report as a publicly listed company cheered investors this week, said Lulu Yilun Chen in Bloomberg.com. The Chinese e-commerce giant reported that revenue jumped 54 percent, to $2.7 billion, in the second quarter—more than analysts had anticipated. Alibaba attributed the rise in earnings to increased shopping traffic and mobile spending in China. Alibaba raised nearly $22 billion in its Sept. 18 initial public offering, and shares are trading at about 50 percent above their IPO price.
87. Autos: GM offers $25 gift cards to recalled-car owners
General Motors has reached out to hundreds of thousands of car owners, hoping to persuade them to have potentially hazardous ignition switches repaired, said Charles Fleming in the Los Angeles Times. Only 1.3 million of 2.4 million recalled GM cars with faulty ignition switches have been repaired, and the car manufacturer has offered owners a $25 gift card—redeemable at retailers including Starbucks, Amazon, and Walmart—to entice them to visit a dealer. The switches have been implicated in hundreds of accidents and as many as 30 deaths.
88. Economy: The Bank of Japan’s surprise stimulus
The Bank of Japan “stunned financial markets” last week when it announced that it would flood the economy with cash to shake the country out of its “deflationary mind-set,” said Geoffrey Smith in Fortune.com. The central bank’s governor, Haruhiko Kuroda, said the bank will buy 80 trillion yen ($700 billion) of Japanese government bonds each year to help jolt the Japanese economy out of its stagnant growth. The news came just days after the U.S. Federal Reserve announced it was winding down its own bond-buying program.
89. Mergers: Walgreens drops tax inversion plan
Walgreens is staying put in the U.S., said Kim Hjelmgaard and Kevin McCoy in USA Today. The pharmacy chain said this week it will buy the remaining stake in British pharmacy chain Alliance Boots for $15.3 billion but keep its headquarters in Chicago, abandoning plans to pursue less onerous taxes by relocating overseas. The practice, known as a tax inversion, has drawn scrutiny from congressional leaders and the Treasury Department in recent weeks. Relocating “was not in the best long-term interest of our shareholders,” Walgreens CEO Greg Wasson said in a statement.
90. Brands: Procter & Gamble to kill 100 brands
The world’s largest maker of household products is about to slash its brands in half to cut costs, said Devika Krishna Kumar in Reuters.com. Though Procter & Gamble did not say which 100 brands it would cut, analysts suggest underperformers like Zooth children’s toothbrushes and Trojan laundry detergent might be on the chopping block, while mainstays like Gillette, Tide, Pampers, and Old Spice are probably safe. P&G’s top 80 brands raked in about $84.1 billion last year, “while the other roughly 100 brands had sales of just $2.4 billion.”
91. Employment: Economy added 209,000 jobs in July
More promising signs in the latest jobs report, said Jeanna Smialek in Bloomberg.com. The economy added 209,000 jobs in July, the sixth straight month of 200,000-plus gains. “The last time payrolls grew by 200,000 or more for at least six months in a row was in 1997.” The jobless rate rose from 6.1 percent to 6.2 percent, but that was largely the result of more workers joining the labor force. Manufacturing also expanded at its fastest pace in more than three years.
92. Retail: Target names new CEO
For the first time, an outsider is taking the reins at Target, said Hadley Malcolm in USA Today. The retailer named PepsiCo executive Brian Cornell as its new CEO and chairman last week, three months after former CEO Gregg Steinhafel stepped down following “a reputationthreatening holiday data breach” of customers’ financial information. Cornell, who oversaw Pepsi’s snack businesses and previously ran Sam’s Club and Michael’s craft stores, says his top priority will be improving shoppers’ “omnichannel experience” with a seamless browsing transition between stores, online, and mobile.
93. Pharma: Bayer to buy Merck’s consumer unit
Bayer is snapping up part of Merck, said Andrew Ward, Ed Hammond, and Jeevan Vasagar in the Financial Times. The German drugmaker has agreed to buy Merck’s consumer health-care business, which includes brands such as Coppertone and Claritin, for $14.2 billion. The move would make Bayer the world’s “second-biggest overthe-counter drugmaker, behind Johnson & Johnson” and represents a big bet on the U.S. market, as “Merck’s consumer health-care division generates about 70 percent of its revenue.”
94. Retail: Office Depot closing stores
Office Depot is shuttering more stores, said Edward C. Baig in USA Today. Just months after its merger with rival OfficeMax, the officesupply retailer announced it will close at least 400 stores by the end of 2016, which the firm expects to result in $75 million in annual savings. According to company reps, at least some of the closures are thanks to overlapping locations “that needed to be consolidated” after the OfficeMax merger. The Florida-based chain currently runs more than 2,000 stores worldwide.
95. Tech: Jury upholds Samsung-Apple ruling
Apple has come out on top in a mixed verdict on its patent battle with Samsung, said Joel Rosenblatt in Bloomberg.com. After a fourweek trial, a federal jury in California reaffirmed an earlier decision that Samsung owed the iPhone-maker $120 million for patent infringements. But the jurors also ruled that Apple had infringed some Samsung patents, awarding the Galaxy smartphone-maker a mere $158,000 in damages. The decision is the latest chapter in an ongoing rivalry between the world’s top smartphone-makers, who have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in international legal battles in a bid to “dominate a market that was valued at $338.2 billion last year.”
96. Economy: Trade gap narrows, despite slow growth
The trade gap is narrowing, said Lucia Mutikani in Reuters.com. The Commerce Department said this week that the U.S. trade deficit “shrank 3.6 percent to $40.4 billion” in March, “broadly in line with economists’ expectations.” But while increased exports suggested economic “momentum,” economists said the new data could revise the first quarter’s 0.1 percent gross domestic product growth into negative figures, marking “the first quarterly contraction” in three years.
97. Fed: Senate confirms Yellen for the Fed
Janet Yellen’s position as the head of the Federal Reserve is now official, said Annalyn Kurtz in CNN.com, after the Senate voted 56–26 this week to approve her nomination. Supporters included 11 Republicans who “broke party ranks.” The historic vote means Yellen “will be the first woman to head the Federal Reserve in its 100-year history” once Ben Bernanke finishes his second term at the end of January. “Janet will stand up for American workers, protect consumers, foster the stability of our financial system, and help keep our economy growing for years to come,” said President Barack Obama.
98. Retail: Barnes & Noble names new CEO
Barnes & Noble has a new chief executive, said Tiffany Hsu in the Los Angeles Times. The bookseller has named Michael P. Huseby, head of its Nook digital division, to replace William Lynch, who resigned as CEO last year “amid disclosures that many of its financial statements contained errors.” Founder and chairman Leonard Riggio called Huseby “a relative newcomer to the retail book business” who has “quickly developed a comprehensive understanding of the unique opportunities and challenges the company faces.”
99. Automakers: Ford CEO staying put
Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally isn’t going anywhere, said Chris Woodyard in USA Today. The widely respected auto executive shot down rumors this week that he would leave Ford to replace Microsoft’s retiring CEO, Steve Ballmer. “Alan made it perfectly clear that he wanted to end all speculation,” said Ford spokesman Jay Cooney. “He has no plans to do anything else other than continue serving Ford.” The automaker’s board had reportedly become impatient after months of speculation that Mulally would leave.
100. Jobs: Private sector hiring ramps up
Private employers were responsible for some good news this week, said Ryan Vlastelica in Reuters.com. New payroll data from ADP showed that companies added 238,000 jobs last month, the largest monthly gain since November 2012. The numbers prompted a new bout of optimism among some economists. “We’re now going to start to see an economic recovery more typical of the economic recoveries we’ve seen historically,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics. “The jobs market has kicked into a higher gear.”
101. Media: Turner Broadcasting plans layoffs
The home of CNN, TBS, and TNT is slashing its workforce by 10 percent, said Ryan Faughnder in the Los Angeles Times. Time Warner’s Turner Broadcasting said this week it will eliminate 1,475 jobs across all its properties in a bid to overhaul its business in the face of declining ratings and the digital TV revolution. The move is part of a six-year plan, dubbed Turner 2020, aimed at refocusing resources on programming and innovation. Turner’s networks have recently been eclipsed in the ratings by competitors, including Fox News Channel and AMC.
102. Retail: Walmart ends insurance for part-timers
Walmart’s part-time workers will soon lose their health coverage, said Anne D’Innocenzio in the Associated Press. The discount retailer said this week it will eliminate health insurance for about 30,000 employees who work fewer than 30 hours a week as part of “a move aimed at controlling rising health-care costs.” Though Walmart is the nation’s largest employer, it’s “among the last of its peers to cut” insurance for part-timers. As of last year, almost two-thirds of large retail chains didn’t offer health insurance for part-time workers.
103. Economy: IMF cuts global growth forecast
The sputtering eurozone is slowing down the global economy, said Ian Talley in The Wall Street Journal. The International Monetary Fund downgraded its growth forecast for the world economy this week, saying it expects a 3.8 percent growth rate for 2014—down from an earlier forecast of 4 percent. The IMF blamed persistent weaknesses in the eurozone’s three largest economies—Germany, France, and Italy—and underwhelming output in Japan, Brazil, and Russia. IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde warned, “If nothing gets done in a bold way,” global growth risked being stuck in a rut for years to come.
104. Regulators: Feds building more cases against bankers
The Justice Department is preparing “a fresh round of attacks on the world’s biggest banks,” said Ben Protess and Jessica Silver-Greenberg in NYTimes.com. Federal prosecutors are reportedly hoping to file charges against at least one big bank by the end of the year, citing mounting evidence that a number of foreign and American banks colluded to rig foreign currency rates. Among the banks under investigation, sources said, are Deutsche Bank, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Barclays, and UBS.
105. Autos: Toyota recalls 6.39 million vehicles
Toyota wants its cars back, said Craig Trudell and Yuki Hagiwara in Bloomberg.com. The Japanese carmaker announced a recall of 6.39 million vehicles this week, the second-largest such move in company history, after finding five types of safety hazards in top models Camry, RAV4, and Corolla. The recall “is a setback for President Akio Toyoda, who has spent years trying to restore the company’s reputation” in the wake of the 2009–10 “unintended acceleration” recalls. Experts estimate the program could cost Toyota some $589 million.
106. Pharma: Takeda faces $6 billion in damages
Takeda Pharmaceutical is gearing up for a fight, said Daniel Levine and Edmund Klamann in Reuters.com. Japan’s largest drugmaker said it will contest the $6 billion in punitive damages awarded by a federal jury in Louisiana, after plaintiffs sued the firm for “concealing cancer risks associated with its Actos diabetes drug.” Legal experts say it is “unlikely that such a large award would stand” since appeals courts have a history of limiting excessive punitive damages.
107. Airlines: American updates loyalty program
American Airlines’ new frequent-flier program is “a mixed bag” for travelers, said Gregory Karp in Chicago Tribune. The recently merged carrier’s new policy eliminates previously imposed blackout dates on US Airways’ Dividend Miles. And AAdvantage members may get more bang for their buck, depending on when they choose to fly. “Reward redemptions that used to cost 25,000 miles one way” will now cost 20,000, 30,000, or 50,000, depending on demand. Elite members will also “receive one fewer free checked bag,” but none of the changes affect how fliers accumulate miles or “achieve elite status levels.”
108. Banks: Regulators hike leverage ratio
Regulators have approved a “simple rule” that could finally “rein in Wall Street,” said Peter Eavis in The New York Times. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and the Federal Reserve will increase the leverage ratio, which measures a bank’s capital against its assets, from 3 percent to 5 percent. The change could force the nation’s eight largest banks to raise “an additional $68 billion to put their operations on firmer financial footing.” Lucky for them, the rule won’t take effect until 2018, which should afford ample time “to adapt and raise capital.”
109. Food: Crumbs closes up shop
Say so long to Crumbs, said Brianna Sacks in the Los Angeles Times. Despite more than a decade “at the forefront of the cupcake craze,” Crumbs Bake Shop Inc. abruptly shuttered its bakeries this week, after losing its stock listing on Nasdaq and defaulting on $14.3 million in financing. The chain, which operated 58 stores across 12 states, went public in 2011 “but more recently suffered from a steep slump in sales.” The company said it was evaluating “its limited remaining options,” which could include bankruptcy.
110. Telecom: America Movil bows to regulators
Billionaire Carlos Slim is breaking up his empire, said Patricia Laya in Bloomberg.com. In a filing this week, the Mexican telecom mogul said his company, America Movil, will cut its market share in Mexican landlines and mobile phones to below 50 percent. The move comes amid debate in the Mexican Congress over an antitrust bill that would impose penalties if the company’s subscribers represent more than half of the Mexican market. America Movil currently claims 70 percent of Mexico’s mobile-phone users and about 80 percent of landlines.
111. Media: Amazon appeals to authors in e-book spat
Amazon is trying to cut out the middleman, said Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg in The Wall Street Journal. In a letter to authors this week, the online retailer hoped “to gain hearts and minds—and leverage —against Hachette Book Group,” which has been feuding with Amazon over e-book pricing. Amazon proposed that the companies “give up their share of e-book sales” and provide authors with 100 percent of the revenue. Hachette authors rejected the proposal and “attacked Amazon for its tactics.”
112. Retail: American Apparel strikes deal with investors
American Apparel may be getting some cash, said Elizabeth A. Harris in The New York Times. The beleaguered clothier, which surprised the industry by ousting Dov Charney, its founder and CEO, last month, has struck a deal with New York investment firm Standard General. The agreement includes $25 million “to buttress American Apparel’s financial situation.” The deal will also “call for a largely remade board” and vows to keep manufacturing in the United States. It’s unclear whether the move will bring Charney, who previously allied himself with the investment group in a bid to gather shares, back into the fold.
113. Labor: Supreme Court halts suit on Amazon overtime
The Supreme Court said this week that Amazon workers aren’t entitled to overtime pay for time spent in anti-theft screenings at the end of their shifts, said Brent Kendall in The Wall Street Journal. Workers in Amazon warehouses alleged that they had to spend 20 to 25 minutes in unpaid time each day waiting in long lines to be checked for stolen goods. But the justices ruled unanimously that because the time spent waiting wasn’t an “integral and indispensable” part of workers’ jobs, they cannot sue to be paid for it.
114. Banks: Fed rules put JPMorgan Chase in the hole
JPMorgan Chase faces a $22 billion capital shortfall under tough new Federal Reserve rules, said Tom Braithwaite and Gina Chon in the Financial Times. The Fed is introducing strict capital requirements for major banks in an effort to shield the U.S. economy from the collapse of a big financial institution. The central bank has previously said that the country’s eight biggest banks need to add a $22 billion buffer to their balance sheets, but a Fed official revealed this week that JPMorgan accounts “for the entire shortfall.”
115. Taxes: Leak shows extent of secret tax deals
Dozens of major companies are using complex and secretive deals with Luxembourg to lower their tax bills, said Stephanie Bodoni in Bloomberg.com. Secret tax documents reveal that companies like Disney, Koch Industries, Skype, Ikea, FedEx, and PepsiCo have funneled hundreds of millions of dollars in profits through Luxembourg subsidiaries, allowing some corporations to “effectively lower their tax bill to less than 1 percent of profit.” Luxembourg, population 500,000, is under investigation by the European Commission for allegedly encouraging corporate tax avoidance.
116. Airlines: Carriers eye big profits after oil drops
Airline profits are ready to take off, said Nicola Clark in The New York Times. The International Air Transport Association estimated this week that the world’s airlines will see a 26 percent jump in collective profit next year, to a record $25 billion, thanks to “the sharp drop in oil prices and stronger global economic growth.” That figure is up from about $20 billion in profit this year and more than double the nearly $11 billion in 2013. The forecast is based on an average oil price of $85 a barrel, which would be the lowest fuel prices for the industry since 2010.
117. M&A: Dollar General makes hostile bid for rival
The discount store war is heating up, said Laura Mandaro in USA Today. Dollar General followed up its spurned $9.1 billion takeover bid for rival Family Dollar this week with a hostile pitch to its target’s shareholders, offering $80 a share for the discount chain store. The offer beats Family Dollar’s existing merger deal with Dollar Tree, valued at $74.50 a share. Dollar General’s move will allow it to start antitrust discussions with regulators, but it’s a risky gamble. The hostile bid was made without first obtaining access to Family Dollar’s confidential financial information.
118. Airlines: Lufthansa pilots go on strike
Lufthansa’s pilots are hitting the airline where it hurts, said Victoria Bryan in Reuters.com. The German carrier’s pilots held an eight-hour strike in Munich this week to pressure the company “over an early retirement scheme.” The protest, which came days after a walkout in Frankfurt, involves payments to early retirees, which the carrier wants to cut to better compete with other carriers. But strikes could hurt Lufthansa’s coffers, too; a three-day pilots’ walkout in April wiped $77 million from the airline’s operating profit.
119. Banks: Higher capital requirements proposed
The Federal Reserve is proposing new rules that could force big banks to downsize, said Nathaniel Popper in NYTimes.com. At a Senate committee hearing this week, Fed officials said the central bank is considering new rules to require banks to store more capital and maintain less debt. The changes “could increase the pressure” on firms like Goldman Sachs or Morgan Stanley “to reduce, or even sell, some traditionally profitable operations, like lending to hedge funds and other investors.”
120. Energy: BP ruled ‘grossly negligent’ for Gulf spill
BP isn’t done paying for the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, said Margaret Cronin Fisk in Bloomberg.com. Last week, a federal judge declared the energy giant “grossly negligent” for its role in the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, which spewed oil for nearly three months into the Gulf. The long-awaited ruling “marks a turning point in the legal morass” surrounding the spill. BP, Transocean, and Halliburton have spent four years feuding over who is to blame. BP, which has already paid out more than $28 billion, could face another $18 billion in fines.
121. Taxes: EU launches corporate tax probe
The European Union is cracking down on corporate tax cheats, said Kim Hjelmgaard and Kevin McCoy in USA Today. The EU has launched an investigation to determine if Apple, Starbucks, and Fiat received preferential treatment and “whether decisions by tax authorities in Ireland, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg breached EU rules.” Apple has drawn especially sharp criticism for tax avoidance recently, including a U.S. Senate subcommittee ruling last year that the iPhonemaker “avoided tens of billions of dollars in U.S. taxes” by shifting funds through a “global web of offshore entities.”
122. Economy: World Bank cuts growth forecast
Things are looking bleak for the world—or at least its economies, said Sandrine Rastello in Bloomberg.com. The World Bank “cut its global growth forecast amid weaker outlooks for the U.S., Russia, and China” this week, and called on emerging markets to “strengthen their economies” before the U.S. Federal Reserve raises interest rates. In January, the World Bank projected expansion of 3.2 percent, but has now revised the figure down to 2.8 percent, citing poor weather in the U.S., “financial market turbulence,” and the conflict in Ukraine.
123. Pharma: Merck to buy hepatitis-drug maker
Merck & Co. will pay $3.85 billion to acquire Idenix, a Massachusetts biotech firm that develops hepatitis C drugs, said Robert Weisman in The Boston Globe. It’s “a staggering price” for a company with fewer than 100 employees and drugs that are “still in relatively early stages of development.” But the growing market for hepatitis treatments, which is expected to reach $200 billion globally over the next 15 years, “bodes well for Merck,” which is also developing experimental compounds called nucleotides, or “nukes,” that scientists hope may cure hep. C.
124. Regulators: Commercial drones cleared for takeoff
The Federal Aviation Administration is green-lighting commercial drones, said Joan Lowy in the Associated Press. The regulator granted permission for the first commercial drone flights over land this week, allowing BP to use small, 4-foot-long aircraft “to survey pipelines, roads, and equipment” in Alaska. The FAA had previously approved drone use over oceans to scout icebergs, count whales, and monitor drilling platforms. The agency also said it was considering allowing filmmakers to use drones for aerial photography.
125. Media: Charter jockeys for TWC
Charter Communications is dead serious about taking over Time Warner Cable, said Joe Flint in the Los Angeles Times. “Having failed in its initial effort to buy” TWC outright, Charter said this week that it plans to nominate 13 directors to TWC’s board later this year. Until now, Time Warner has resisted Charter’s unsolicited buyout proposal, which offered $132.50 a share to take over TWC. But if Charter succeeds in its hostile move of wresting control of Time Warner’s board, it could force its larger rival to reconsider and sell.
126. Banks: Barclays to shed 12,000 jobs
Barclays, Britain’s third-biggest bank, announced this week it would slash up to 12,000 jobs, or 8 percent of its workforce, “as part of a painful restructuring that began a year ago,” said Chad Bray in NYTimes.com. The lost jobs will include about 7,000 positions in Britain. The announcement coincided with “a steep fourth-quarter loss” of almost $845 million, “driven partly by restructuring costs, an increased levy by the British government related to riskier financing,” and $545 million in litigation and regulation penalties.
127. Autos: GM discloses CEO pay
What pay gap? asked Tim Higgins in Bloomberg.com. General Motors said Mary Barra, the automaker’s new—and first female—chief executive, would take home a hefty $14.4 million this year, including long-term incentive payments. GM said it decided to disclose Barra’s full compensation “to correct misconceptions” that arose after its announcement last month that Barra would earn just $4.4 million through the company’s short-term incentive plan. That raised alarms that her overall pay would fall far short of that of her predecessor, Dan Akerson, who took home $11.1 million in 2012.
128. Employment: January jobs report disappoints
Has the economy lost its “vigor”? asked Christopher S. Rugaber and Paul Wiseman in the Associated Press. For the second month in a row, the Labor Department released a disappointing jobs report, showing “a tepid gain of 113,000 jobs in January,” after a “puny increase of 75,000” in December. Though both figures are well below last year’s average monthly increases, “most economists say they think hiring will strengthen during 2014,” pointing at solid gains in areas like manufacturing and construction and a drop in unemployment.
129. Housing: Senators agree to ax Fannie and Freddie
The days of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac may be numbered, said Jim Puzzanghera in the Los Angeles Times. Two “key senators announced bipartisan agreement” this week “on a plan to overhaul the housing finance system” by winding down the companies and replacing them with a new agency that would offer government guarantees for mortgages. Until now, lawmakers have been “at odds about how exactly” to shut down Fannie and Freddie, which the federal government took over in 2008 “as they neared bankruptcy from bad loans they guaranteed during the subprime housing boom.”
130. Apparel: Men’s Wearhouse buys Jos. A. Bank
It’s official, said Lindsey Rupp in Businessweek.com. After “a fivemonth takeover battle,” Men’s Wearhouse has struck a deal to buy smaller rival Jos. A. Bank Clothiers for $1.8 billion in cash—56 percent above Jos. A. Bank’s closing price on Oct. 8, when Men’s Wearhouse first publicized its initial bid. The companies said this week that both retailers’ boards had approved the deal, which will also require Jos. A. Bank to terminate a separate transaction “to buy the Eddie Bauer brand.” The combined company, to be led by Men’s Wearhouse CEO Douglas Ewert, will operate more than 1,700 U.S. stores.
131. Food: Chobani to sell minority stake
Chobani is eyeing the market, said Olivia Oran in Reuters.com. The New York state–based Greek yogurt maker is “looking to sell a minority stake in a deal that could value the company at around $2.5 billion.” Sources say the company has been working with Bank of America “as it considers selling roughly 20 percent, and is speaking to consumer companies and private equity firms to gauge their interest.” The yogurt maker “has grown into a U.S. sensation,”since its 2005 founding, with sales up more than 30 percent in 2013 alone.
132. Retail: Staples to shut down 225 stores
Staples is desperately out to save money, said Taryn Luna in The Boston Globe. The office supply chain said it will close up to 225 stores by the end of next year in an effort to “slash $500 million in annual costs” and “reinvent itself in the face of intense Internet competition.” The cuts, which come on the heels of disappointing holiday sales and 40 other closures, “will reduce the number of Staples stores in North America by about 12 percent.”
133. Banks: $4.3B fine for foreign exchange scandal
Regulators in the U.S., the U.K., and Switzerland have slapped six of the world’s biggest banks with a combined $4.3 billion fine over allegations of widespread rate rigging in the foreign exchange markets, said Daniel Schäfer in the Financial Times. JPMorgan Chase, HSBC, the Royal Bank of Scotland, Citigroup, Bank of America, and UBS agreed that “they did not have the necessary controls in place to prevent manipulation of what is the largest financial market in the world, with $5.3 trillion a day in trades.” The banks could still face criminal charges.
134. Autos: GM ordered new switches long before recall
The time line General Motors has offered federal investigators about its faulty ignition switches is being called into question, said Jeff Bennett in The Wall Street Journal. Internal emails revealed last week that the carmaker placed an “urgent” order for 500,000 ignition switches in December 2013, two months before it alerted regulators to the problem in its Chevrolet Cobalts. The defective switches, which have been linked to 30 deaths, eventually led to a recall of 2.5 million vehicles and a Justice Department investigation.
135. Trade: U.S., China agree to eliminate tech tariffs
The United States and China have struck a “breakthrough” trade accord, said David Nakamura in The Washington Post, eliminating tariffs on dozens of high-tech products, including GPS devices, medical equipment, and video game consoles that generate roughly $1 trillion in annual global sales. Talks on expanding the two countries’ 1997 Information Technology Agreement broke down last year but were renewed ahead of President Obama’s visit to Beijing this week. The White House estimates the deal may create up to 60,000 U.S. jobs and benefit major technology companies like Microsoft and Apple.
136. Retail: Sluggish pre-holiday sales for Macy’s
Macy’s third-quarter earnings were a mixed bag, said Sruthi Ramakrishnan in Reuters.com. While the department store company beat Wall Street expectations with a $217 million profit, samestore sales declined slightly. The retailer, which owns the high-end Bloomingdale’s chain, also lowered its forecasts heading into the holiday season but says it hopes to benefit from planned pilot programs that include a “Buy Online, Pick Up in Store” option, same-day delivery service, and upgraded mobile apps.
137. Economy: Job openings hit 13-year high
More good news on the jobs front, said Nina Glinski in Bloomberg.com. The Labor Department said this week that employers posted nearly 4.7 million job openings in June—the highest number of unfilled jobs since 2001 and a sign of a strengthening economy. Meanwhile, 2.5 million Americans quit a job in June, the highest level since June 2008. When workers voluntarily leave a job, it is generally a sign they’re confident they’ll find another—often better-paying—position.
138. Media: BuzzFeed raises $50M to fund expansion
BuzzFeed wants to move beyond the listicle, said Mike Isaac in The New York Times. The viral content startup raised $50 million from venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz last week, an investment BuzzFeed plans to use to launch new content sections and an “inhouse incubator for new technology.” The company also intends to push more money toward BuzzFeed Motion Pictures, its Los Angeles–based video arm. Andreessen Horowitz says it expects BuzzFeed “to generate revenue in triple-digit millions” by the end of 2014.
139. Mergers: Unsolicited takeover bid for Chiquita
Chiquita is looking pretty ripe, said David Gelles in NYTimes.com. The banana producer received an unsolicited $611 million bid this week led by Brazilian fruit producer Cutrale, a move that could dash Chiquita’s proposed merger with Irish banana distributor Fyffes. Though the Fyffes deal would help Chiquita reclaim its title as the world’s largest banana producer from rival Dole and help the North Carolina–based firm reduce its tax bill by relocating to Dublin, investors have been lukewarm on the plan. A Cutrale-led takeover might be more attractive, given that shareholders could then “sell their shares for a rich premium.”
140. Tech: Feds issue warning about Bitcoin
Washington wants consumers to beware of Bitcoin, said Jack Linshi in Time.com. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued an advisory this week warning Americans about the dangers of using virtual currencies, suggesting that consumers put themselves at risk of vulnerability to hackers, excessive costs, and scams. “Consumers are stepping into the Wild West when they engage in the [virtual currency] market,” CFPB Director Richard Cordray said. The bureau also announced a new online system where consumers can lodge complaints about potentially fraudulent or criminal Bitcoin transactions.
141. Tech: European court bolsters Web privacy
Europe’s highest court has put privacy firmly ahead of profits, said Foo Yun Chee in Reuters.com. In a surprise ruling this week, the Court of Justice granted individuals the right to request that certain links be removed from results of Web searches of their names. The ruling stems from the legal concept known as “the right to be forgotten,” which holds that individuals can control access to information about their personal histories. While privacy advocates cheered the decision, critics say it will create huge technical challenges and extra costs for companies like Google, and could easily be exploited by those seeking to stifle information, leading to a far less open Internet.
142. Industry: U.S. steelmakers wary of imports
The steel industry is up in arms, said John W. Miller in The Wall Street Journal. As a flood of foreign steel continues pushing imports to near-record levels, U.S. steelmakers filed 38 trade complaints last year, the most since 2001, and are renewing calls for higher tariffs. Demand for steel has risen in the U.S. thanks to a resurgent auto industry and increased energy drilling, but prices have dropped due to the growth in imports, primarily from China. Analysts say some U.S. steel mills may be forced to close if the oversupply continues.
143. Housing: Feds ease mortgage restrictions
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are reversing course, said Gregory Korte in USA Today. Mel Watt, the newly installed federal regulator of the mortgage giants, offered a plan this week that will make it easier for Americans to obtain mortgages, a sharp departure from recent policy. Watt’s remarks signal the Obama administration’s intention to have Fannie and Freddie remain as central mortgage players, despite pending legislation in Congress that would revoke the charters of the government-sponsored lenders.
144. Labor: Wage-fixing settlement challenged
Not everyone is happy with the proposed class-action settlement over collusion by major tech companies, said Don Reisinger in CNET.com. Last month, Adobe, Apple, Google, and Intel agreed to pay $324 million to settle claims that they conspired to keep wages low and limit competition for talent. The deal was headed for approval, but one of the plaintiffs issued a rare protest, asking a judge to reject the deal and grant the 64,000 plaintiffs “their day in court.”
145. Acquisitions: Japanese company buys Beam
A Japanese whiskey and beer maker is about to buy an iconic U.S. brand, said Clementine Fletcher and Leslie Patton in Bloomberg.com. Suntory Holdings said this week that it would buy Beam Inc. for $16 billion, acquiring brands including Maker’s Mark and Jim Beam to “create the world’s third-largest premium spirits company.” The move is part of Suntory’s effort to “boost overseas growth” as Japan’s population shrinks and ages. The takeover is also “the largest overseas acquisition by a Japanese company” since telecom firm SoftBank bought Sprint for $21.6 billion in 2012.
146. Retail: Probes ramp up after data hacks
“Officials, banks, and consumers all want a piece of Target and Neiman Marcus,” said Tiffany Hsu in the Los Angeles Times. The retailers have been slammed with lawsuits and investigations after hackers stole data related to more than 110 million Target customers and a still undisclosed number of Neiman Marcus shoppers. Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) this week demanded a briefing from Target’s security officials, and attorneys general from several states have announced probes.
147. Media: Time Warner rejects buyout bid
Time Warner Cable won’t sell itself short, said Sam Gustin in Time.com. The nation’s second-largest cable company turned down a “blockbuster buyout offer” from Charter Communications, a smaller rival that offered $62.35 billion—or $132.50 per share—to take over TWC. Time Warner Cable CEO Rob Marcus called the bid a “nonstarter” and said the company plans to hold out for an offer that pays investors $160 a share, or $75 billion.
148. Tech: Google acquires Nest for $3.2 billion
Google may soon be running your household, said Alexei Oreskovic in Reuters.com. The Silicon Valley juggernaut this week announced an all-cash, $3.2 billion deal to buy Nest Labs, a “smart thermostat and smoke alarm maker.” While the deal won’t close for several months pending regulatory approval, the acquisition has sparked speculation over Google’s smart-home plans. “It’s not far-fetched to see Google expanding this technology,” said Shyam Patil, an analyst at Wedbush. “Home automation is one of the bigger opportunities when you talk
about the Internet of everything and connecting everything.”
149. Companies: Ireland to close popular tax loophole
Apple and Google may soon face bigger tax bills overseas, said Alanna Petroff in CNN.com. Bowing to pressure from U.S. officials, Ireland is closing a popular corporate tax loophole that many foreign companies use to dodge billions of dollars in taxes. Starting in 2020, companies will be barred from using the “Double Irish” maneuver to funnel profits through Irish subsidiaries. Experts say that the change probably “won’t mean any more tax revenue for the U.S., or even Ireland,” especially if companies restructure in response.
150. Energy: Oil prices slump due to global glut
Global oil prices are tumbling, said Russell Gold in The Wall Street Journal. “Stagnant” demand and a torrent of crude hitting the market, thanks in part to the rise of hydraulic fracking in the U.S., have sent crude oil prices down more than 20 percent since June. This week, prices fell more than 4 percent in a single day, the biggest one-day drop in nearly two years. Analysts expect the price drops to put economic pressure on oil-reliant states including Russia, Iran, and Venezuela. They also “expect prices at the pump to drift below $3 a gallon in many parts of the U.S. if crude prices keep sliding.”
151. Banks: U.S. financial firms report solid earnings
It was a mixed week for U.S. banks, said Katy Barnato in CNBC.com. JPMorgan Chase missed analysts’ expectations but swung back to a profit, reporting $5.6 billion in net income after a string of legal costs took a bite out of the bank’s bottom line. Wells Fargo reported a $5.7 billion profit, despite dwindling revenue from mortgage interest. Other banks fared less well: Bank of America posted a small profit of $168 million, because of legal charges involving mortgage securities, while Citigroup reported $3.4 billion in profit.
152. Media: HBO plans streaming service
“HBO is cutting the cord,” said Timothy Stenovec in HuffingtonPost .com. The media company announced this week it will launch a standalone streaming-video service to rival competitors like Netflix, allowing users “to watch HBO programming without paying for an expensive cable subscription.” The move comes as subscriptions to pay-TV in the U.S. have remained flat in recent years. Many consumers have canceled cable and satellite subscriptions in favor of on-demand, Web-based streaming services like Netflix and Hulu.
153. IPOs: Alibaba IPO may dwarf Facebook’s
This year’s largest tech initial public offering “will come from a company that many Americans have never heard of,” said Andrea Chang and Julie Makinen in the Los Angeles Times. Alibaba, “a Chinese e-commerce behemoth” with revenue larger than “Amazon and eBay combined,” says it plans to go public in the U.S., following “months of speculation that it would list in Hong Kong.” The company, which has an estimated valuation of $200 billion, hopes to raise $15 billion when it opens for trading later this year.
154. Bitcoin: Mt. Gox exchange braces for liquidation
Mt. Gox may be history, said Hiroko Tabuchi in NYTimes.com. The Tokyo-based Bitcoin exchange—which filed for bankruptcy protection in February after hackers stole $500 million of investors’ and the exchange’s holdings—said this week it will “likely be liquidated” after a court rejected its bid to be “allowed to try to rehabilitate its business.” In a statement, the firm—which is also facing fraud lawsuits in the U.S. and Canada—said it expected the move will “create great inconvenience and concerns to our creditors, for which we apologize.”
155. Economy: Housing starts jump, but still disappoint
The housing market may be picking up—“but not as fast as economists had forecast,” said Doug Carroll in USA Today. Better weather “pushed up housing starts to their fastest pace so far this year,” with new construction hitting an annual rate of 946,000 in March. That’s 2.8 percent more than in February, but still short of economists’ expectations of a March rate of 970,000. And while building permits, “a barometer of future activity,” increased for single-family homes, those gains were offset by a sharp fall in multifamily units, for an overall drop of 2.4 percent.
156. Banks: BofA shares sink on $276M loss
Bank of America stocks slid this week after it reported its first quarterly loss since 2011, said Hugh Son in Businessweek.com. The “surprise loss” came thanks to $6 billion in legal costs that the nation’s second-largest bank incurred in resolving a slew of mortgage disputes in the wake of the financial collapse. Those cases include a $3.6 billion settlement over loans it sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac between 2005 and 2007. BofA is also responsible for damages resulting from the toxic debt it acquired by purchasing Countrywide in 2008.
157. Tech: Apple and IBM team up
Two former tech rivals are joining forces, said Darrell Etherington in TechCrunch.com. “Apple announced a strategic partnership” with IBM last week, aimed at bringing more Apple products to the business community. As part of the initiative, IBM will “transfer over 150 of its enterprise and IT apps” to Apple platforms as well as sell iPhones and iPads to its global business clients. The new partners will initially focus on the retail, health-care, banking, travel, telecom, and insurance industries, “with a planned rollout starting this fall.”
158. Sports: NBA seeks to double broadcast fees
The NBA wants to cash in on TV rights, said Sharon Terlep and Amol Sharma in The Wall Street Journal. As its broadcast deals come up for renewal, the league “is seeking to double the TV rights fees it receives” from Walt Disney and Time Warner, which air NBA games through ESPN and Turner Broadcasting. While the current terms net the league about $930 million a year, doubling the rates would earn the NBA nearly $15 billion over the standard eight-year contract.
159. Autos: Former Ford CEO joins Google board
Google is building its street cred, said Keith Naughton in Bloomberg .com. Alan Mulally, who retired as Ford’s CEO this month, has signed on to the board at Google, giving the tech giant valuable “auto expertise” as it works to develop its self-driving cars. Google said Mulally, who “engineered a turnaround” at Ford when he took over in 2006, will “receive an initial grant of $1 million in Google stock, an annual equity award of $350,000, and a $75,000 cash retainer.” Mulally’s recruitment could be a coup for Google, which hopes to “deploy at least 100 fully autonomous vehicles” later this year.
160. Banks: BofA looks to settle mortgage probe
Bank of America wants to resolve its mortgage problems, too, said Devlin Barrett and Christina Rexrode in The Wall Street Journal. Lawyers for the bank met with Justice Department officials in Washington this week, seeking “to negotiate a possible mortgagesecurities settlement” over the bank’s sale of bad loans. While BofA “is offering $13 billion, to be paid in both cash and consumer relief,” the talks have stalled because regulators are “asking for billions more.” The news came just days after rival Citigroup announced a $7 billion settlement over similar charges.
161. Economy: Fed will be ‘patient’ on interest rates
The Federal Reserve “is not ready yet” to raise interest rates, said Jeff Cox in CNBC.com. The central bank issued its final policy statement of the year this week and bucked widespread expectations that it would signal an imminent rise in near-zero interest rates. The Fed said it will “be patient” on the timing of the first interest rate increase since 2006, and reiterated that low rates will be maintained for a “considerable time,” a phrase it has repeated since 2012 in order to reassure markets.
162. Trading: Insider trading convictions overturned
“Getting away with insider trading may have just gotten a little bit easier,” said Jason Breslow in PBS.org. A federal appeals court overturned two high-profile convictions last week, against former hedge fund managers Anthony Chiasson and Todd Newman, ruling that federal prosecutors had “relied on too broad a definition of insider trading laws” in the case. A person convicted of insider trading must know that a tipper will receive personal gain for information, the appeals court said, a standard that was not met in the case. The decision could imperil current insider trading cases, as well as several recent convictions.
163. Energy: Oil companies cut back as prices plunge
Plummeting oil prices have U.S. energy companies feeling the heat, said Lynn Cook and Erin Ailworth in The Wall Street Journal. As oil prices this week hit “a fresh five-year low”—less than $56 a barrel—several U.S. energy companies have begun “to cut drilling, lay off workers, and slash spending.” In North Dakota and Texas, the number of drilling rigs is edging down, as companies say they will focus only on the most profitable wells, and new permits have fallen sharply since October. ConocoPhillips, one of the biggest shale producers in the U.S., has said it would spend 20 percent less next year on drilling new wells.
164. Retail: PetSmart accepts $8.3B buyout
PetSmart has a new owner, said David Welch in Bloomberg.com. The largest U.S. pet-store chain agreed this week to sell itself for $8.3 billion in “the biggest leveraged deal” for a U.S. company this year. The new owners, led by investment firm BC Partners, will pay $83 a share—39 percent above PetSmart’s share price in July, when activist investors began pushing for a sale. PetSmart has struggled owing to competition from Amazon, but analysts said that because of its relatively strong cash flow and low debt, it makes a sensible target for private equity firms.
165. Tech: Microsoft buys Minecraft maker
Microsoft is buying the company behind the hit game Minecraft, said Brett Molina in USA Today. The Xbox maker announced this week it will acquire game developer Mojang for $2.5 billion, largely to obtain rights to the massively popular world-building game Minecraft. Because the game comes with millions of loyal users, the purchase “could help bolster [Microsoft’s] Xbox and mobile ambitions,” including its Windows Phone business. Minecraft, which launched in 2009, has been downloaded more than 100 million times and has been among the best-selling games for iPhones, Xbox, and PlayStation.
166. Retail: RadioShack CFO steps down
There’s been another shake-up at RadioShack, said Lindsey Rupp and Lauren Coleman-Lochner in Bloomberg.com. The struggling electronics chain’s CFO, John Feray, called it quits this week after less than a year on the job. Though Feray blamed his exit on personal reasons, the move comes as RadioShack posted another quarter of “mounting losses and plunging sales” and is in discussions with creditors “in a bid to avoid bankruptcy.” The chain has struggled in recent years to compete against online retailers like Amazon and big-box stores like Walmart.
167. Economy: Dollar gains against currencies
The greenback is making a comeback, said Ira Iosebashvili in The Wall Street Journal. The dollar marked its ninth consecutive week of growth against a broad basket of currencies—“its longest winning streak in more than 17 years.” The gains appear driven by expectations that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates next year, which is “drawing investors from around the globe in search of stronger returns.” A stronger dollar “often creates a virtuous circle for the U.S. economy” by making imports cheaper and increasing consumer spending power.
168. Markets: CalPERS drops hedge funds
The largest public pension fund in the U.S. is getting out of hedge funds, said Tom Braithwaite in the Financial Times. The $300 billion California Public Employees’ Retirement System, or CalPERS, said this week it would shed its $4 billion investment in about 30 hedge funds in a bid to simplify its assets and reduce costs. Overall, public pensions “have been increasing their allocations to hedge funds steadily in recent years.” But CalPERS’s move could be influential, as its size and history of adopting alternative investments often make it a model for big investment funds.
169. Sports: Patent office cancels Redskins trademark
Critics of the Washington Redskins’ name just scored a touchdown, said Theresa Vargas in The Washington Post. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office canceled the Redskins’ trademark registrat ion this week, calling it “disparaging to Native Americans.” While the team will not be forced to change its name, the ruling does limit the Redskins’ and the NFL’s ability to protect the franchise’s name and logo from use on unlicensed merchandise. Despite the controversy, team owner Dan Snyder has so far refused to consider a name change, and the team is expected to appeal the USPTO’s decision.
170. Acquisitions: GE sweetens Alstom offer
General Electric is stepping up its $17 billion bid to buy Alstom’s energy unit, said David Gauthier-Villars and Ted Mann in The Wall Street Journal, by “considering the sale of its train-signaling business to Alstom.” The move is seen as an effort to appease the French government’s demand that GE help beef up Alstom’s train business, which is considered “one of France’s industrial icons.” It may also help GE ward off competing offers from Germany’s Siemens and Japan’s Mitsubishi, which this week presented a joint offer to pay Alstom $19.3 billion for its power business.
171. Auto: GM recalls 3 million more cars
General Motors was back in the hot seat this week, said James R. Healey in USA Today. CEO Mary Barra returned to Capitol Hill “for a new round of grilling by a House panel” over the company’s ignition-switch recall debacle. The testimony came just days after GM announced yet another recall, this time of 3.16 million U.S. midsize and large cars. “All in, GM has issued 44 recalls so far this year covering 17.73 million U.S. cars and trucks.”
172. Tech: Apple settles e-book suit
Apple’s e-book pricing headache is winding down, said Daisuke Wakabayashi in The Wall Street Journal. According to a court filing this week, Apple reached a settlement in a civil class-action lawsuit “claiming that the company overcharged consumers by $280 million for e-books.” The plaintiffs, which include consumers and some U.S. states, “had been seeking $840 million from Apple.” The tech giant also faced an antitrust case last year in which a judge found that Apple colluded with several U.S. publishers to drive up e-book prices.
173. Pharma: Generic drugmaker bulks up
Drugmaker Forest Laboratories has a new owner, said Caroline Humer and Esha Dey in Reuters.com. Dublin-based pharmaceutical firm Actavis, the world’s third-largest generic drugmaker, announced plans this week to acquire Forest for $25 billion in cash and stock, a 25 percent premium over Forest’s closing share price last week. The purchase will give Actavis a step up in the market for Alzheimer’s and hypertension treatments, and “means a major payday for activist investor Carl Icahn, the second-largest shareholder at Forest Labs.”
174. Banks: Fed okays new rules for foreign banks
Overseas banks will have a tougher time in the U.S., said Yalman Onaran in Bloomberg.com. The Federal Reserve this week adopted new rules that will force large foreign banks “to hold more capital in the U.S.” The rule is “designed to protect taxpayers from having to bail them out in a crisis,” but the banks claim it will “increase those companies’ borrowing costs and hurt their profitability.” The new standards, which take effect in July 2016, will apply only to the estimated 15 to 20 foreign banks that have more than $50 billion in assets.
175. Tech: Candy Crush maker files for IPO
The maker of the video game Candy Crush Saga is going public, said Chris Isidore in CNN.com. King Media Entertainment, the Dublinbased company that developed the “wildly popular” game, this week announced annual revenue of $1.9 billion and plans to list on the New York Stock Exchange. While the company’s filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission “did not disclose the number of shares to be sold or the price range for those shares,” the company estimated that it would raise $500 million in the IPO.
176. Lending: New rules for Capital One cardholders
“Capital One isn’t shy about getting into customers’ faces,” said David Lazarus in the Los Angeles Times. The company recently rolled out an update to its cardholder contract that gives the bank permission to contact customers “in any manner we choose,” including “calls, emails, texts, faxes, or a ‘personal visit.’” And the “creepy” new contract terms don’t end there: “Cap One says these visits can be ‘at your home and at your place of employment.’” The company said it would only send debt collectors to cardholders’ homes “as a last resort” to repossess big-ticket items such as Jet Skis and snowmobiles
177. Food: Quiznos files for bankruptcy
Is Quiznos toast? said Tanya Agrawal in Reuters.com. The sandwich chain, “known for pioneering the concept of toasted subs,” filed for bankruptcy protection last week “after struggling for years with high debt and rising competition.” The Denver-based company listed liabilities of between $500 million and $1 billion, and the restructuring plan aims to cut debt by more than $400 million. The nearly 2,100 independent franchises will not be affected, the company said, thanks to $15 million in emergency financing from its senior lenders.
178. Retail: Walmart expands video game trade-ins
“Walmart’s got game,” said Bruce Horovitz in USA Today. The big box retailer said this week that it would expand its video game trade-in program into brick-and-mortar stores, offering customers store credit for used games. The move is part of an effort to drive “more customers into the store” and increase revenue. Retailers like Walmart have struggled to recover from the economic downturn, thanks to their lower-income customers not having “extra money to spend.”
179. Markets: Lawyers probe high-speed trading
New York state regulators are cracking down on high-frequency trading, said Kara Scannell and Arash Massoudi in the Financial Times. In a speech this week, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman called for “tougher regulations and market reforms” of high-frequency trading firms, while launching a probe into whether American stock exchanges are giving such traders “an unfair advantage.” Schneiderman specifically “highlighted contracts that allow high-frequency trading firms to place computer servers inside trading venues,” which may unfairly give those traders and their clients faster access—if only by milliseconds—to potentially market-moving information.
180. Economy: Fed ditches jobless target
Unemployment is no longer a factor, said Annie Lowrey and Neil Irwin in NYTimes.com, at least for the Fed. The central bank announced this week that it would stop pegging interest rates to the nation’s jobless figures instead of waiting until unemployment dips below 6.5 percent. Rates have been held near zero since 2008, and the Fed will now use “labor market conditions” as a guide to rate hikes. New Fed Chair Janet Yellen said the policy change was triggered by more-rapid-thanexpected improvements in the labor market.
181. Economy: Japan falls into another slump
Japan is back in a recession, said Ben McLannahan and Kana Inagaki in the Financial Times. Preliminary data showed that economic growth fell at an annualized pace of 1.6 percent in the third quarter. Rising sales taxes have been blamed for suppressing consumer spending and triggering the downturn, Japan’s fourth since the financial crisis. In response, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who returned to power in 2012 pledging to revive growth, dissolved the country’s parliament and called a snap election to obtain support for delaying a second planned tax increase.
182. Autos: Pressure on Takata over faulty air bags
Federal regulators called for a nationwide recall this week of cars with Takata air bags, said Jack Linshi in Time.com. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said driver’s-side air bags made by the Japanese company have been found to explode in humid conditions. More than 14 million vehicles from 11 automakers have been recalled worldwide since 2008 over concerns about the air bags, and at least five deaths have been linked to the defect. The latest recall could affect millions more vehicles made by Ford, Honda, Chrysler, Mazda, and BMW.
183. Finance: PIMCO’s eye-popping payouts
Two PIMCO executives reportedly made more than $200 million each last year, said Mary Childs in Bloomberg.com. Bill Gross, the former chief investment officer of the $2 trillion investment firm, received a $290 million bonus, according to sources, while Mohamed El-Erian, the firm’s former CEO, made $230 million. The payouts came despite the fact that returns for Gross’s Total Return Fund “trailed a majority of peers.” Gross abruptly left PIMCO in September amid friction over his management style; El-Erian left in March. A PIMCO spokesman said “the figures provided to Bloomberg are not correct.”
184. Retail: Target posts profit after tough year
Target is bouncing back, said Evelyn Cheng in CNBC.com. The retailer’s third-quarter earnings beat analysts’ expectations this week, with $17.7 billion in revenue and a 3 percent increase in profits. The turnaround comes at the end of a difficult year for Target, after a massive data breach during last year’s holiday shopping season compromised millions of customers’ payment data. Since then, “Target has taken strides to boost its image,” luring customers with shipping deals on holiday orders and embracing new mobile payment technologies.
185. Regulators: PwC fined $25M for fudged report
PricewaterhouseCoopers is in hot water, said Ben Protess in NYTimes .com. New York state’s financial regulator extracted a $25 million fine from the consulting giant last week and barred “the firm’s regulatory consulting unit from performing certain assignments on behalf of New York–regulated banks for two years.” The deal follows an investigation into PwC’s consulting work for Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, during which it “improperly altered” details of the Japanese bank’s dealings with Iran and other blacklisted countries. The bank itself “ultimately paid its own $250 million” fine to authorities.
186. World: Argentine bill seeks debt sovereignty
Argentina has a new strategy to deal with its debt, said Sarah Marsh and Walter Bianchi in Reuters.com. President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner unveiled a new bill this week “that seeks to push bondholders to swap defaulted debt for new notes governed by Argentine law”— a gambit aimed at sidestepping a U.S. court ruling that Buenos Aires must repay a group of New York City hedge funders before repaying its other creditors. The ruling, which blocked a $539 million interest payment and caused Argentina to enter default last month, has been criticized by Argentine leaders as an attack on their sovereignty.
187. Real estate: Rising home construction raises outlook
The economy may be building momentum, said Andrew Khouri in the Los Angeles Times. New-home construction jumped 15.7 percent in July to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.09 million units. Wall Street “cheered the rise, which ended two months of declines and soared past expectations.” A construction increase could be good news for the country, because building new homes demands “scores of laborers and raw materials, while new-home buyers often furnish their digs” with big-ticket items like furniture and electronics.
188. Pharma: Valeant’s battle for Allergan heats up
Allergan is getting desperate, said Jonathan D. Rockoff and Dana Mattioli in The Wall Street Journal. As rival Valeant gears up to launch a hostile $53 billion takeover of the Botox maker, Allergan “has approached Salix Pharmaceuticals about a potential acquisition that could thwart” Valeant’s efforts. The Salix deal, which is worth just over $10 billion, could stymie Valeant, given that it would make Allergan “more expensive and complex.”
189. Social media: Pinterest’s value soars to $5 billion
Eager investors don’t seem to mind that Pinterest generates little revenue, said Laura Lorenzetti in Fortune.com. The scrapbooking site raised $200 million last week in a new round of funding, pushing the startup’s value to $5 billion, a 32 percent increase from just seven months ago. Pinterest, which plans to use the cash to expand overseas, recently began selling advertising to major corporations such as General Mills, Gap, and Kraft, and with the site’s loyal, predominantly female user base, many believe it could command ad rates “higher than other social sites.”
190. Tech: Microsoft unveils new tablet
Microsoft wants you to ditch your laptop, said Anick Jesdanun in the Associated Press. The tech giant believes it has finally perfected the PC-tablet hybrid with its Surface Pro 3, a fully loaded personal computer in tablet form that is lighter and thinner and boasts a bigger screen than its predecessor. Developers are targeting customers who currently carry both a laptop and a tablet, and are putting their marketing efforts behind the new device’s PC-like capabilities, such as creating documents and editing movies.
191. Media: NBC boosts lackluster ratings
“After a decade of earthbound ratings, the peacock network has finally taken flight,” said Keach Hagey in WSJ.com. NBC is poised to finish the current broadcast season as the most-watched network among 18- to 49-year-olds, the demographic most coveted by advertisers. The network, which has spent nine of the last 10 years in last place for total viewers, owes part of this season’s success to the Winter Olympics, but also got a boost from Sunday Night Football, The Voice, and crime drama The Blacklist.
192. E-commerce: eBay reveals security breach
Internet retailer eBay has uncovered a major cyberattack, said Soham Chatterjee in Reuters.com. Hackers compromised one of the company’s databases sometime between late February and early March, gaining access to customer information like passwords, email and mailing addresses, and dates of birth. Officials found no evidence of unauthorized access to financial information, which is stored separately, and while the number of accounts affected remains unknown, as a precaution, eBay has advised all users to change their passwords.
193. Pharma: Johnson & Johnson profits up sharply
It was a good quarter for Johnson & Johnson, said Jonathan D. Rockoff and Tess Stynes in The Wall Street Journal. The health-care company posted fourth-quarter profits of $3.5 billion—an increase of 37 percent over a year earlier—on $18.4 billion in sales. Demand for drugs like Remicade, the firm’s rheumatoid arthritis treatment, drove the gains, with help from its Tylenol and Motrin products. But the company also said it would cut $1 billion in costs by 2017, “in part by consolidating some operations and eliminating jobs.”
194. Retail: J.C. Penney slashing jobs and stores
J.C. Penney’s attempts “to get back on the path to profitability” spell bad news for its workforce, said Anne D’Innocenzio and Mae Anderson in the Associated Press. The retailer said last week it will soon cut 2,000 jobs and close 33 stores, suggesting that its “holiday season sales were not what the company hoped for.” Penney is still “trying to recover from massive losses and plummeting sales drops that occurred under former CEO Ron Johnson,” and the latest cuts “should save more than $65 million annually.”
195. Airlines: Delta results taking off
Delta Air Lines is flying high, said Charisse Jones in USA Today. The carrier “posted a $558 million profit for the last quarter of 2013, as more passengers climbed aboard, then paid more to fly.” Compared with the same period a year earlier, the airline’s passenger traffic grew 2 percent while revenue jumped 6.1 percent, or $451 million. This year “Delta plans to continue swapping out its smaller 50-seat regional jets, which guzzle fuel, with more cost-efficient aircraft.” And a new partnership with Virgin Atlantic, “which kicked into gear Jan. 1, is allowing it a major footprint in Europe’s primary hubs.”
196. Autos: Fiat closes Chrysler deal
Chrysler now has a sole owner, said Tommaso Ebhardt and Mark Clothier in Bloomberg.com. Italian carmaker Fiat this week completed its takeover of the American firm, doling out $1.75 billion in cash to Chrysler’s other owner, a United Auto Workers retiree health-care trust. The deal, totaling $4.35 billion, is another “step in Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne’s decade-long drive to convert the company from an unprofitable regional player into a carmaker with worldwide ambitions.” The two together form the world’s seventh-largest carmaker.
197. Cars: Michigan bans direct auto sales
Tesla has hit a roadblock in the home of the Motor City, said Bernie Woodall in Reuters.com. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed a bill this week banning direct manufacturer-to-consumer car sales, requiring automakers to go through franchised dealers. The bill was aimed primarily at electric-car manufacturer Tesla, which had hoped to open its own stores in the state and bypass the dealer network to sell directly to consumers. The move makes Michigan the fifth state to block Tesla’s plans, joining Texas, New Jersey, Arizona, and Maryland.
198. Wall Street: Hedge funds suffer major market losses
“This month’s turmoil in financial markets has been a bloodbath for hedge funds,” said Juliet Chung in The Wall Street Journal. Sharp volatility in stocks, bonds, and commodities has delivered the industry its worst stretch since late 2011. Top funds like Jana Partners, Discovery Capital Management, and Paulson & Co. have posted losses ranging from 5 to 11 percent for the month. One hedge-fund manager told clients that the brutal market environment reminded him of the plotline of the Jaws movies.
199. Energy: Total CEO dies in runway crash
The CEO of the world’s fourth-largest oil company was killed in a plane crash this week, said Carol J. Williams in the Los Angeles Times. Christophe de Margerie, 63, a 40-year veteran of the oil-andgas firm Total, was one of the most powerful and colorful figures in the energy industry. The accident occurred when de Margerie’s private jet struck a snowplow during takeoff from Moscow’s Vnukovo airport; the driver of the snowplow was reportedly intoxicated. Total has named the head of refining and chemicals, Patrick Pouyanné, as CEO.
200. Economy: China shows signs of a slump
China’s economy is growing at its slowest pace in five years, said Liyan Qi in The Wall Street Journal. The National Bureau of Statistics said China’s economy grew at just 7.3 percent in the third quarter, thanks to “a slumping real estate market and weak domestic demand and industrial production.” The latest data make it increasingly likely that China will miss its annual growth target for the first time since 1998. Although “7 percent plus growth would be the envy of most countries,” Beijing says it needs at least 7.2 percent growth just to create enough jobs to keep pace with population growth.