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Business News Archives for 2015-09


Stocks are sharply higher on the last day of the third quarter, which has been dismal for Wall Street. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq are set to register their biggest percentage losses for a three-month period since the third quarter of 2011. (CNBC)
 
US consumer confidence rose slightly in September and was just below the post-recession high. The consumer confidence index increased to 103.0 from a revised 101.1 in August. That's the highest level since January, when consumer confidence touched an eight-year high. (Market Watch)
 
Costco, the second-largest U.S. retailer, posted quarterly results with profits climbing 10% to $767 million. Costco’s sales rose 1% to $35 billion, helped by a 2.2% gain in membership fees. Excluding the effect of falling gas prices and foreign-exchange fluctuations, Costco’s same-store sales grew 6 percent last quarter. (Bloomberg)
 
With the big jobs report on Friday all eyes are on jobs and we have been seeing corporate downsizing especially in the oil patch. Chesapeake Energy will reduce its workforce by about 15% or 740 jobs, as depressed energy prices forced deeper cost cutting at the nation's No. 2 natural gas producer. (Reuters)  
 
Just 86 days till Christmas, starting tomorrow, Target will match the online prices of more than two dozen of its Internet competitors, including Amazon and Wal-Mart. (CNBC)
 



With two trading days left in September, stocks are testing this year's lows as investors fret over perceived slower economic growth in the U.S. and China, and falling oil prices. (CNBC)
 
Cal-Maine Foods, the nation’s largest egg producer reported quarterly profits increased 454% on sales of $610 million.  The outbreak of avian flu that hit the U.S. chicken and egg suppliers earlier this year has led to record high egg prices. During the quarter, Cal-Maine sold nearly 259 million dozen eggs at a net average selling price of $2.24 per dozen. In the year ago quarter, the company sold about 252 million dozen eggs at a net average selling price of $1.35 per dozen. (Wall St. 24/7)
 
Reynolds American, who just closed their acquisition of Lorillard, announced a $5 billion deal to sell assets to Japan Tobacco. The assets include trademarks for the Natural American Spirit cigarette brand outside the U.S. (Market Watch)
 



Stocks are lower this morning. With three trading days left in September the S&P 500 has seen a 2% drop for the month.  Avoiding a government shutdown and Friday's monthly employment report are major market drivers this week. (CNBC)
 
Asian stocks were mixed last night, after Chinese industrial profits declined 8.8% year-over-year in August, their sharpest drop since 2011, adding to concerns about the world's second-largest economy. (CNBC)
 
Energy Transfer Equity will acquire The Williams Companies in a business combination valued at approximately $37.7 billion, including the assumption of debt and other liabilities. (CNBC)
 
Royal Dutch Shell is ending exploration in the Arctic waters off Alaska after failing to discover a sufficient amount of crude. The oil giant may take a charge of up to $4.1 billion as a result. (FT)
 
Alcoa says it will split into two publicly-traded companies, citing its legacy aluminum operations and higher-value auto businesses were diverging and no longer compatible. (Reuters)
 



Fed Chair Janet Yellen made Mr. Market very happy by telling us we will have an interest rate hike later this year.  The good news is this means the health of global economy might not be that big a concern after all for policy makers. (CNBC)
 
The third and final estimate of 2nd quarter GDP shows the US economy grew at a 3.9% rate. That is better than expectations and a good rate of economic growth. (AP)
 
Nike reported a 23% jump in quarterly profits of
just under $1.18 billion. Sales leapt 5% to $8.41 billion.  A stronger dollar hampered the results and revenue would have climbed 14%, excluding that impact. Sales in North America were up 9%, rose 14% in Western Europe and climbed 26% in Central and Eastern Europe. The most significant growth came from China and Japan. Sales rose 30% in China and 35% in Japan. (AP)
 
Bed Bath & Beyond posted a quarterly profit of $1.21 per share, but sales were below estimates, and same-store sales increased by a lower than expected 0.7% compared to the prior year. The company's margins have been pressured in recent months by increased promotions, and higher spending on online advertising and technology upgrades. (CNBC)
 



Stocks are under pressure this morning, as the S&P 500 looks to avoid a three-session losing streak. With five trading days left in September, the S&P 500 is lower for the month. In potential market moving news Fed Chair Janet Yellen speaks this evening on inflation and the economy. (CNBC)
 
This is an example of deflationary pressures in the economy.  Wal-Mart wants price cuts from suppliers that make goods in China. The retailer wants to share in the benefits generated from China's devaluation of the yuan. ( Reuters)
 
Deal-making timed with Chinese President Xi Jinping's U.S. visit, Boeing has struck a deal to sell 300 jets to China, valued at about $38 billion.  Boeing will also open a plant there that would work on part of the production process for its 737 jet. (AP)
 
A union-backed group will move forward with a ballot measure that would raise taxes on corporations by more than $2.5 billion a year. Under the measure, some corporations would pay a minimum tax of $30,000 a year, plus 2.5% of sales above $25 million. About 1,000 corporations doing business in Oregon would be affected. The group may also decide to proceed with yet another initiative that would raise personal income taxes for individuals with a taxable income of more than $125,000 and for joint filers above $250,000.  (Oregon Live)
 



“You can observe a lot by just watching.” -- Yogi Berra
 
Mr. Market continues to worry about China. Asian stocks slid deeper this morning, after a preliminary reading of China's manufacturing sector fell to a six-and-a-half-year low in September. Expect some volatility today as investors look ahead to Fed Chair Janet Yellen's comments tomorrow afternoon, after the central bank decided not to hike interest rates last week because of its concerns about China's slowdown. (CNBC)
 
Bank of America shareholders have voted to allow CEO Brian Moynihan to retain his position as chairman. A group of investors, mainly public pension plans, had pressed to split the roles. (CNBC)
 
A leading indicator of commercial construction activity took a steep drop in August, possibly due to increased volatility in financial markets. The American Institute of Architects reported its Architecture Billings Index dropped from 54.7 to 49.1. Anything below 50 indicates a decrease in design services. (CNBC)
 
The construction industry has been plagued by a labor shortage. Eighty-six percent of construction firms surveyed in July and August by Associated General Contractors of America said they were having difficulty filling hourly craft or salaried professional positions. (CNBC)
 



With 94 days till Christmas Macy's plans to hire 85,000 temporary workers for the holiday shopping season, down from 86,000 last year. About 12,000 positions would be based in direct-to-consumer fulfillment facilities, customer service centers will get 1,600 workers and more than 1,000 will be hired as support staff across the country for other events such as the Thanksgiving Day Parade. (Fox Business News)
 
Need something to go with that new iPhone? Apple is progressing on efforts to create a car.  The decision on whether it will be a self-driving car, an electric vehicle or a combination of the two has not been made. (NY Times)
 
New research says the number of households spending more than 50% of their income on rent is set to rise at least 11% to 13.1 million by 2025. The study noted we are now seeing more renters than at any other time in U.S. history. Homeownership rates have fallen from a peak of 69.2% in 2004 to 63.4% this year, the lowest since 1967.   (CNBC)
 
Darden's the owner of Olive Garden, earned $86.4 million last quarter.  Revenue totaled $1.69 billion essentially flat to last year. Sales at restaurants open at least a year rose 3.4%. Darden shares are up 4.6% in early trading. (AP)
 



Haggen is trying to sell part of its prescription business back to Albertsons before it's forced to take a loss on the pharmaceuticals. Now in Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, Haggen has asked the court for approval to sell pharmacy records and inventory to Albertsons for nearly $13 million. Haggen bought the pharmacy assets from Albertsons earlier this year. Only three Oregon stores are involved two in Klamath Falls and one in Portland. (Oregon Live)

 

Wal-Mart will hire 60,000 employees this holiday season. The company also hired 60,000 people for holiday season jobs last year, but says it has more employees working more hours in its stores than it did in 2014. The company says most of its holiday-season employees stayed with the company after the holidays ended. The company has about 1.4 million workers in the U.S..  (AP)

 

The biggest competitor to Oregon’s largest company Nike is Under Armour. Under Armour expects to reach $7.5 billion in revenue by 2018, lifted by an expansion into new markets. Under Armour, got its start producing polyester workout shirts aimed at football players in the 1990s, has fueled growth by continually pushing into new categories. Sales in the most recent quarter rose 29%.  (Bloomberg)



Stocks are sharply lower, after the Fed opted not to raise interest rates.  The decision sent stocks on a wild ride, with the S&P 500 closing lower and the Nasdaq finishing higher. A dovish after meeting statement cited global economic and market volatility concerns. There could be some extra volatility at the close today, with quadruple witching and the expiration of option and future contracts. (CNBC)

Student debt in the U.S. is not holding back most young professionals from buying a home. This contradicts warnings that soaring education loan levels are hurting the housing market. The report, which draws on 2013 data tracking thousands of households since the late 1960s, found that having more student debt had only a slight negative impact on homeownership for people who get their degrees.  (WSJ)

Just when you thought was safe to go back in the Mediterranean we are having a Greek election.  Eight months after being elected to office on an anti-austerity pledge and then going back on the promise, Greece's populist Prime Minister seeks a new mandate from voters Sunday. (USA Today)

Join us Saturday at 7 a.m. for Financial Focus Radio when we will talk about low interest rates and your savings.
 



A decision on whether to hike borrowing costs for the first time in nine years comes as the Fed ends its two-day meeting, with release of a press release at 11am. This will be followed 30 minutes later by a news conference by Fed Chair Janet Yellen. (CNBC)

Drugstore chain operator Rite Aid cut its full-year forecast for drugstore sales and total earnings, citing rising generic drug prices as insurers have been slow in raising reimbursement rates for those drugs. Profits fell to $21.5 million in the quarter.  Sales rose 17.5% to $7.66 billion. (Reuters)

If you want to take a trip to the valley you can attend the Nike annual shareholders meeting today in Beaverton, Oregon. The meeting begins at 10 am. This will be the last meeting Phil Knight will run as he is stepping down as chairman next year. Travis Knight, Phil Knight's son, was named to the company's board as part of Phil Knight's succession plan. Thursday will be his first annual meeting. (AP)

Netherlands-based telecom Altice has agreed to buy U.S. cable TV provider Cablevision in a deal valued at $17.7 billion. Altice failed earlier this year to buy Time Warner Cable. (CNBC)

A group of pharmacy workers at Target's Brooklyn, New York store, have won a vote to form a microunion, making it the first unionized store at the retailer since its inception in 1902. (Reuters)

Oil is down 40 cents at $46.78 a barrel. Oil surged 6% yesterday on increasing optimism that the lowest level of the recent cycle was hit in August. (CNBC)
 



Happy Wednesday everyone.  It's September Federal Open Market Committee meeting eve today!  The picture’s been complicated by the recent market turbulence that may see the central bank hold off on raising rates. Many investors are hesitant to make big trades ahead of the decision, and U.S. economic data published yesterday did little to show which way the Fed will swing. While raising rates will almost certainly send waves through the markets, not moving will likely keep the guessing game - and accompanying stock gyrations - alive for weeks to come. U.S. futures are cautious on the upcoming decision.  (Seeking Alpha)

On the brink of a historic break-up, Hewlett-Packard disclosed yesterday that it is planning to slash up to 30,000 more jobs to put its new enterprise business on stronger footing as a standalone company.  The cuts come on top of 54,000 jobs that have already gone over the past three years since chief executive Meg Whitman took the helm.  (FT)

Forget 10 Barrel, Anheuser-Busch has its sights on bigger prey these days.  In developing news this morning, Anheuser-Busch InBev said it had approached SABMiller about a takeover, paving the way for a deal that would likely value SABMiller well in excess of its $75 billion market capitalization, and create a brewing giant that would dominate much of the global beer market.  AB InBev and SABMiller are the world’s two largest brewing companies, and a combination would trigger an intense antitrust review around the world.  There’s been no formal offer yet, as the companies hope to continue a “friendly dialogue”.  
 



After consumer sentiment fell, investors were waiting to see whether Americans reined in spending in August. Retail sales rose by 0.2% in August, slower than the 0.6% gain in July. (Bloomberg)

No strikes in Detroit yet. Negotiators for Fiat Chrysler and the United Auto Workers union worked through the night on a new contract. Meanwhile, contracts with General Motors and Ford were extended while the union focuses talks with Fiat Chrysler. (CNBC)

The head marketing executive for Virgin America is the newest director of Umpqua Bank. Luanne Calvert will join its board on Sept. 25th. She previously worked as creative director at Google. She will become Umpqua's 13th board member. Directors earned between $68,000 and $140,000 last year. Umpqua is  Oregon's biggest bank. (Portland Business Journal)

Umatilla County fruit growers are still hurting where not a single cherry was harvested commercially in after the November 2014 freeze. Growers around Milton-Freewater, northeast of Pendleton, won't have a cherry crop until 2017 after a November freeze , killed buds and trees. Even some apple trees were killed all the way down to the roots. The area grows about 650 acres of cherries and fetch a premium price. (AP)
 



Wall Street is looking for another winning week, after the S&P 500 gained 2% for its best week since July 17. On Thursday we hear from the Federal Reserve about interest rates, a meeting that will preoccupy traders all week. There are a few U.S. economic data points to watch this week, they include August retail sales tomorrow and CPI, consumer inflation data, Wednesday.

The age of the self-driving car is on our door step.  Google is a leader in that space and has named John Krafcik, TrueCar president and former CEO of Hyundai Motors America, as chief executive of its self-driving car project, which started in 2009. (CNBC)

The United Auto Workers union has picked Fiat Chrysler as its target in ongoing contract negotiations. The current agreement expires just before midnight, but will likely be extended. (AP)

Demand for Apple's iPhone 6s and 6s Plus was stronger in China than most regions, including the U.S., according to early reports. The tech giant may release numbers from first-day pre-orders today. (Re/code)

The S&P 500 is down 2 and the NASDAQ is down 4. The MSCI International Index is up 0.25%.

Oil is down 25 cents at $44.44 a barrel. Oil prices have fallen almost 60% since June 2014 on the back of the largest global surplus in modern times. The U.S. oil rig count fell by 10 to 652 last week, the second straight weekly drop.



Like lemmings to the sea; investors pulled another $19 billion from stock funds over the past week, seeking safety in government bond funds, which have enjoyed the longest run of inflows in four years. (Reuters)

It is the Fed's desire to see inflation move higher. The government's August producer price index saw a change of zero, with the core rate, excluding food and energy components, increased 0.3%. (Fox Business News)

It is sneaking up on us again and could led to more market volatility; the Federal debt ceiling. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew says the government can stay funded by extraordinary measures through late October. (CNBC)

General Electric agreed to sell GE Capital's transportation finance unit to BMO Financial for an undisclosed price. GE said the latest deal brings its total for 2015 sales to $85 billion as it sheds its financial businesses. (CNBC)

Join us Saturday for Financial Focus Radio when we will tell you at least 5 things that should really concern you about your wealth efforts.

The S&P 500 is down 4 and the NASDAQ is down 9. The MSCI International Index is down 0.79%.

Oil is down $1.15 at $44.75 a barrel. Saudi Arabia has rejected a summit on prices which could lead to more supply as non-OPEC supply is likely to see its biggest drop in more than two decades in 2016. (Reuters)
 



Stocks are volatile this morning, after they traded in about a 2% range yesterday starting way up and ending with a 1% loss as investors looked ahead to next week's Fed meeting. (CNBC)

The Wests newest grocer, Haggen is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.  The company has more than a dozen creditors, the largest of which is United Grocer, which is owed nearly $15 million. Haggen says it has been forced to dump hundreds of employees and shutter nearly a fifth of the stores it had purchased from Albertsons and Safeway in deal that expanded the company by 146 stores last December. (AP)

Someone is not worried about China. Dell will invest $125 billion in China over the next five years, says chief executive Michael Dell, as the computer-maker continues to expand in the world's second-largest economy. (Reuters)

All we can say is it is about time. The Justice Department has issued new policies to prioritize the prosecution of individual employees, not just their companies when it comes to financial crimes like insider trading and fixing of markets. (NY Times)

Mondelez  is boosting spending from 8% to 10% of total revenue on their tasty brands like Oreos, Cadbury, and Honey Maid. In response to the “healthy eating craze” the food giant is aiming for 50% percent of its snacks to be in the "well-being" category by 2020. (Yahoo Finance)

 



(Flushing, NY)  --  Serena Williams is through to the semifinals at the U.S. Open after defeating sister Venus in three sets.  Serena captured a 6-2, 1-6, 6-3 win over Venus at Arthur Ashe Stadium.  Serena is two wins away from becoming the first calendar-year Grand Slam champion since Steffi Graf in 1988.
 



United Airlines has replaced its CEO, Jeff Smisek. The company is facing a federal investigation for allegedly providing the former NY/NJ Port Authority Chairman with special flights in exchange for favors. Smisek allegedly wanted millions of dollar in funding for several projects that were beneficial to United. In return, United allegedly created a special flight between Newark and an airport near the former Chairman’s home in South Carolina. (CNBC)

Investor sentiment showed signs of improvement throughout the globe Wednesday, following an announcement from China’s finance ministry on Tuesday evening that the country would roll out a “more forceful” fiscal policy to boost its economy.  Japanese stocks posted their biggest one-day gain since 2008, rising 7.7%! (WSJ)

Global market volatility shows no sign of dampening companies' appetite for deal making, as 40bn in new transactions worldwide were announced yesterday in what’s on track to be a record year for mergers and acquisitions.  The announcements put the total amount of transactions since January at over $3tn!!! (FT)

Apple is due to unveil the latest versions of the iPhone today at an event in San Francisco, where it is also expected to introduce a bigger iPad and the opening of Apple TV to third party app developers. Upgrades to the iPhone are likely to include much-improved cameras, as well as Force Touch, which allows users to open features by pressing down harder on the screen and has been used in the Apple Watch. (Seeking Alpha)
 



Summer is over in the Hamptons and traders are back at their desks.  But, if you did not have enough to worry about Chinese economy dollar-denominated exports declined by 5.5% year-over-year, while imports slid 13.8%. (CNBC)

Small business confidence rose in August, as the economy continues to grow at a steady clip in the third quarter. The National Federation of Independent Business Small Business Optimism Index gained half a point to 95.9 last month. The labor market gauge improved , small business owners were slightly more optimistic about sales, but did not believe it was a good time to expand. The survey pointed to benign inflation pressures in the near term. (Reuters)

Fannie Mae released its home purchase sentiment index to the public for the first time ever today. The measure of home-buying confidence continued to decline in August from an all-time high in June. (CNBC)

Technology continues to push the world economy forward. MasterCard starts testing a program today to allow cardholders to verify their online purchases with a selfie. The credit card giant is also testing fingerprint and voice recognition for verification. (USA Today)

In the ying and yang of technology cost; Apple introduces the new iPhone tomorrow, with carriers phasing out subsidies, which may lead to sticker shock. (Re/code)  Amazon plans to release a $50 tablet in time for the holiday season, with a 6-inch screen tablet and a mono speaker. (WSJ)
 



It’s the payroll report of the century (just kidding, but you’d think so from all the hype in today’s financial media).  Payrolls Friday is always among the biggest day of the month for traders, as job figures are scrutinized for their message about the state of the economy.  This week, the figures do matter a bit more than usual as investors try to decipher whether the Fed will raise rates later this month.

And the numbers are out this morning: U.S. employment growth slowed in August, but the unemployment rate fell more than expected. Nonfarm payrolls rose a seasonally adjusted 173,000, and the unemployment rate fell to 5.1%.

Disney is launching Star Wars merchandise today to accompany the upcoming film, Star Wars, The Force Awakens, its new film in the saga.  Analysts say the new line could generate $5bn in global sales, eclipsing the $3bn in sales generated by Disney's Cars series.  

Novartis is launching the first cut-price copy of an expensive biological drug in the U.S. today, opening the way for a new category of medicines (called biosimilars) that could shave billions off American healthcare costs. Copycat versions of these complex drugs have been on sale in Europe for over a decade, but they've been slow to arrive in the U.S. in part due to pharmaceutical lobbying.  
 



(Flushing, NY)  --  Fourth-seeded Caroline Wozniacki is the latest big name to fall at the U.S. Open.  The 2014 finalist was upended by Petra Cetkovska in three sets in second round play.  Seven of the top 10 women's seeds have already been eliminated.



US Stocks staged a rally yesterday after the Federal Reserve's Beige Book painted a more optimistic picture of the US economy soothing worries about the possible impact of the slowdown in China on the US economy.

The Chinese stock market will be closed for the next 2 days for their annual military parade and commemoration of World War II's end, so for 2 trading sessions American stocks won't be exposed to the Chinese market which so many consider toxic.  This could tell us whether this sell off has been a brief market gut check, or a longer-lasting correction.

The Fed's Beige Book said several district banks reported increasing wage pressure caused by labor market tightening.  There are also indications that the strong dollar and the drop in oil prices were depressing some economic activity which could argue for the Fed holding off raising interest rates at their September 16th-17th policy meeting.

As Apple prepares to launch its newest iPhones next week the company's biggest challenge is how they top their own success.  The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus reignited sales at the company and brought them record profits.  Most analysts don't believe there will be any growth in iPhone sales next year and since the iPhone is 2/3 of Apples sales the company is going to have to find other ways to keep growing.

The number of Americans seeking unemployment claims last week rose by 12,000 to 282,000 which is the highest level since June.  Still new claims have had the longest run under 300k since 2000.



The manufacturing sector slowed its growth in August to its weakest in over two years, while construction spending in July climbed to its highest level in more than seven years according to the Institute of Supply Management. (Reuters)

Second quarter productivity grew at an annual rate of 3.3%, almost triple last month. The report showed a 1.4% annual drop in labor costs, compared to last month. (CNBC)

The US private sector continues to grow.  The ADP jobs report says the private sector added 190,000 jobs in August. Construction employment led the way.  (Fox Business News)

ConocoPhillips says it is cutting 1,810 jobs, or 10% of its workforce. The biggest job cuts will be in North America and they plan to eliminate more than 500 jobs in Houston, where it is based. ConocoPhillips has already cut 1,000 jobs this year and had 18,100 employees at the end of Q2. (AP)

Home mortgage applications increased dramatically last week, as interest rates sank. Total volume jumped 11.3%, with refis up 17%. (CNBC)

Intel has released a new line-up of chips focused on hybrid tablets, as the company looks to catch up in the mobile space with competitor Qualcomm. (CNBC)
 



Markets look to start September the same way we ended August… on a down note as we look to retest the lows of last week.  The S&P 500 and Nasdaq each lost more than 6% in August. The S&P and Nasdaq had their worst months in more than three years. (CNBC)

Activity in China's factory sector shrank at its fastest rate in at least three years in August as domestic and export orders tumbled, increasing investor concern that the world's second-largest economy could be lurching towards a hard landing. (Reuters)

Dollar Tree reported a second-quarter loss of $98 million, after reporting a profit in the same period a year earlier. The discount retailer posted revenue of $3.01 billion in the period. Dollar Tree shares had risen almost 9% since the beginning of the year. (AP)

Chipotle Mexican Grill is being sued over claims that its food does not contain genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. Plaintiff Colleen Gallagher claims that Chipotle's offerings are not, in fact, GMO-free. The restaurant chain said it would contest the lawsuit.  (Reuters)
 


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