Business Highlights

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Updated: October 2, 2015 at 6:07 pm


An ailing global economy starts to weigh on US job market

WASHINGTON (AP) — A sagging global economy has finally caught up with the United States.

Nervous employers pulled back on hiring in August and September as China's economy slowed, global markets sank and foreigners bought fewer U.S. goods. Friday's monthly jobs report from the government suggested that the U.S. economy, which has been outshining others around the world, may be weakening.

Lackluster growth overseas has reduced exports of U.S. factory goods and cut into the overseas profits of large companies. Canada, the largest U.S. trading partner, is in recession. China, the second-largest economy after the United States, is growing far more slowly. And emerging economies, from Brazil to Turkey, are straining to grow at all.


US regulator missed its best chance to catch Volkswagen cheating

CHICAGO (AP) — More than a decade ago, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency helped develop a technology that ultimately was used by an independent laboratory to catch Volkswagen's elaborate cheating on car emissions tests. But EPA used the technology primarily to test trucks rather than passenger cars because such heavy equipment was a much bigger polluter.

That decision meant that the U.S. regulator missed its best chance to foil the German carmaker's deception early on. The portable emissions measurement systems that EPA pioneered might have subjected VW diesel cars to on-road tests and discovered they were spewing up to 40 times the allowable levels of key pollutant nitrogen oxide under normal driving conditions.

Without that test, VW was virtually home free and evaded detection for seven years.


Orders to US factories down 1.7 percent in August

WASHINGTON (AP) — Orders to U.S. factories fell in August by the largest amount in eight months, led by a drop in demand for commercial airplanes and weakness in a key category that tracks business investment spending.

Factory orders declined 1.7 percent in August after a slight gain of 0.2 percent in July, the Commerce Department reported Friday. It was the biggest setback since orders dropped 3.7 percent in December.

Demand in a key category that serves as a proxy for business investment slipped 0.8 percent in August, following solid gains in June and July.


Food and Drug Administration expands Merck drug's approval to treat lung cancer

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal health officials on Friday expanded approval of an innovative Merck drug to treat patients with an advanced form of the most common lung cancer.

The Food and Drug Administration approved Keytruda for advanced non-small cell lung cancer patients who have seen their tumors spread after taking other therapies. The disease accounts for roughly seven out of eight cases of lung cancer in the U.S. Regulators previously approved Keytruda in 2014 to treat melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

Keytruda is part of a promising new class of drugs called immunotherapies, which harness the body's immune system to help fight cancer. Merck's injectable biotech drug works by blocking a protein found in certain tumors called PD-1, which inhibits the body's natural response to cancer cells.


Wal-Mart headquarters cuts with 'need to become a more agile company'

NEW YORK (AP) — Wal-Mart laid off 450 workers at its headquarters Friday as the world's largest retailer attempts to become more nimble so that it can better compete with the likes of

There are more than 18,000 people who work at the headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, a close-knit community in northwest Arkansas. The cuts were across all areas, from finance to global e-commerce. The company says that the employees were spoken with individually early on Friday.

The layoffs follow months of rumors about them and they arrived less than two months after Wal-Mart trimmed its annual earnings outlook as profits fell. That is partly because of hefty investments Wal-Mart has made in e-commerce as well as higher wages for hourly workers.


Court upholds $236 million verdict in Exxon Mobil pollution case

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — New Hampshire's highest court upheld a record $236 million judgment Friday against Exxon Mobil for its use of a gasoline additive that contaminated groundwater in the state.

A jury reached the verdict in April 2013 after finding the company liable in a long-running lawsuit over contamination by the chemical MTBE. Lasting nearly four months, the trial was the longest and resulted in the largest jury award in New Hampshire history.

Lawyers for Exxon Mobil asked the court for a new trial. They said the company used MTBE to meet federal Clean Air Act mandates to reduce air pollution and shouldn't be held liable for sites contaminated by unnamed parties, such as owners of junk yards and independent gas stations.


Chick-fil-A opening New York City outpost in national push

NEW YORK (AP) — Chick-fil-A will open an outpost in New York City on Saturday, marking a high-profile milestone in its push to become a bigger national player.

The Atlanta-based chain known for its fried chicken sandwiches with pickles has been stepping up its expansion and is opening nearly 100 new locations a year. The chain now has more than 1,900 stores in 42 states, although its heaviest presence is in the South. Among the areas the company doesn't have as many stores are New England and the Northwest.


Scottrade says hack may have affected 4.6 million customers

NEW YORK (AP) — Online stock brokerage company Scottrade says the names and addresses of about 4.6 million of its customers may have been stolen by hackers.

The company said Friday that the Federal Bureau of Investigation recently informed it of the hack, which occurred between the end of 2013 and early 2014.

St. Louis-based Scottrade says that Social Security numbers, email addresses and other sensitive information was in the system that was hacked, but hackers focused on stealing customer names and addresses.


General Mills finds listeria in 2nd batch of green beans

NEW YORK (AP) — General Mills is recalling 60,000 bags of its Cascadian Farm frozen green beans after one package tested positive for listeria, the second time this year the company has found the bacteria in its green beans.

The Minneapolis-based food company says no illnesses have been reported in both cases. Listeria can cause fever, muscle aches and even death.

The recall announced Friday is for 16-ounce bags of Cascadian Farm green beans with a "Better If Used By" date of June 29, 2017. The bags were produced in June 2015.


Google officially becomes Alphabet

NEW YORK (AP) — Google is officially 'Alphabet.'

Google Inc. on Friday completed the move to reorganize as Alphabet, and its stock will begin trading as Alphabet on the Nasdaq under the same tickers "GOOG" and "GOOGL" on Monday. Each share of Google will be automatically converted to Alphabet stock.

Mountain View, California-based Google said in August it would create a new company that would oversee both its highly lucrative Internet business and its growing flock of other ventures like building self-driving cars and researching ways to prolong human life.


By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 200.36 points, or 1.2 percent, to close at 16,472.37. The Standard & Poor's 500 index surged 27.54 points, or 1.4 percent, to 1,951.36. The Nasdaq composite rose 80.69 points, or 1.7 percent, to 4,707.78.

The price of oil bounced back from two days of losses. U.S. crude gained 80 cents to close at $45.54 a barrel in New York. Brent Crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, rose 44 cents to close at $48.13 a barrel in London.

Wholesale gasoline fell 2.5 cents to close at $1.341 a gallon. Heating oil was little changed at $1.520 a gallon. Natural gas rose 1.8 cents to close at $2.451 per 1,000 cubic feet.