AP News

Business Highlights


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Confident consumers give US retail sales a lift

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans spent more money at retailers in September — a buying surge that reflected growing consumer confidence and the launch of the latest iPhone.

Retail sales jumped 1.1 percent last month, producing the best two months of sales in two years, according to figures released Monday by the Commerce Department.

The spike in spending could boost sluggish growth and help revitalize President Barack Obama's campaign after a strong debate performance by challenger Mitt Romney.

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Softbank to buy 70 percent of Sprint for $20.1 billion

NEW YORK (AP) — Sprint, the No. 3 cellphone company in the U.S., is selling a controlling stake to Japan's Softbank for $20.1 billion.

The deal, announced Monday in Tokyo, positions Sprint Nextel Corp. as a stronger competitor to U.S. market leaders Verizon Wireless and AT&T, but it doesn't solve all of the company's underlying problems.

Sprint, based in Overland Park, Kan. has been limping along since 2005, when it bought Nextel. The merger quickly turned sour, saddling Sprint with the cost of running two incompatible networks while customers fled.

Softbank Corp., a holding company with investments in Internet and telecom businesses, made its own venture into the wireless world in 2005, with the acquisition of Vodafone Japan. It turned that business around, giving President Masayoshi Son the confidence that he can make Sprint a profitable company again after five straight years of losses.

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ACLU sues Morgan Stanley over subprime loans

NEW YORK (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union accused Morgan Stanley of violating civil rights laws by encouraging a lender to push more expensive and risky mortgages in black neighborhoods of Detroit.

The ACLU and others filed the lawsuit Monday on behalf of five homeowners who took out loans from New Century Mortgage Corp., a subprime lender that has since collapsed. Morgan Stanley said the allegations were "completely without merit."

The lawsuit claims Morgan Stanley pushed New Century to make the risky loans because Morgan made its profit at the start of the process and sold the loans before they could go bad.

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2 Americans win Nobel econ prize for match-making

STOCKHOLM (AP) — Two American scholars won the Nobel economics prize Monday for work on match-making — how to pair doctors with hospitals, students with schools, kidneys with transplant recipients and even men with women in marriage.

Lloyd Shapley of UCLA and Alvin Roth, a Harvard University professor currently visiting at Stanford University, found ways to make markets work when traditional economic tools fail.

Shapley, 89, came up with the formulas to match supply and demand in markets where prices don't do the job; the 60-year-old Roth put Shapley's math to work in the real world.

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Manufacturers launch program to hire more veterans

WASHINGTON (AP) — Some of the nation's leading manufacturing companies announced a new program Monday to help veterans gain the skills necessary to fill some of the estimated 600,000 high-tech, manufacturing jobs that remain open because employers can't find qualified applicants.

The manufacturers say the program will be initially offered in 10 cities. The companies will work with local community and technology colleges to offer training and to put veterans on a fast track to obtaining certification in such areas as electronics, welding and machining.

The effort to hire more veterans will also involve working with employers. General Electric and Military Families at Syracuse University are developing a reference guide that employers can use to help them more effectively recruit and mentor veterans. The guide will be made available to those companies participating in efforts by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the White House to help 100,000 veterans and their spouses obtain work by 2014.

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Citi beats expectations after loss on brokerage

NEW YORK (AP) — Citigroup said Monday that it beat Wall Street predictions for quarterly earnings after stripping out a big loss on its retail brokerage and other one-time charges.

Net income was $3.3 billion, excluding one-time items. That amounts to $1.06 per share, beating the 96 cents predicted by analysts polled by financial data provider FactSet. Analyst predictions generally exclude one-time charges and gains.

Revenue, after the special charges, was $19.4 billion. That beat expectations of $18 billion.

The bank wrote down $4.7 billion after agreeing to sell its portion of retail brokerage Morgan Stanley Smith Barney for less than it had hoped. Including that and other one-time charges, net income was $468 million, and revenue was $14 billion.

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Study: Privatized Medicare would raise premiums

WASHINGTON (AP) — Nearly six in 10 Medicare recipients would pay higher premiums under a hypothetical privatized system along the lines of what Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has proposed, according to a study released Monday.

The report by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation also found striking regional differences that could lead to big premium hikes in some states and counties. That finding instantly made it ammunition in the presidential campaign.

In the senior-rich political swing state of Florida, the hypothetical plan modeled by Kaiser would boost premiums for traditional Medicare by more than $200 a month on average. In Nevada, another competitive state, 50 percent of seniors would face additional monthly premiums of $100 or more for their coverage. A new pattern of regional disparities would emerge from overhauling Medicare's payment system, the report said.

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US business stockpiles grew 0.6 percent in August

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. companies restocked their shelves at a solid pace in August while sales rose for a second straight month. The combination of higher stockpiles and increased sales should help to boost economic growth.

Business inventories grew 0.6 percent in August following a July gain of 0.8 percent that had been the strongest since January, the Commerce Department said Monday. Sales were up 0.5 percent in August following a 0.9 percent rise in July that followed a big drop in June.

Companies typically boost their stockpiles when they anticipate sales will rise in coming months. Faster restocking helps drive economic growth. When businesses order more goods, it typically leads to more factory production.

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Chinese shoppers power global luxury sales

MILAN (AP) — Chinese shoppers at home and abroad are pushing global sales of luxury items to new heights, helping the sector post its third straight year of strong growth since the global recession.

A new study by Bain & Company released Monday forecasts the global luxury goods market for clothing, accessories, jewelry, cosmetics and art will grow 10 percent this year to €212 billion ($274 billion) from €192 billion in 2011. That would be the third straight year of double-digit growth following two years of contraction in 2008 and 2009 when many countries around the world slid into a deep recession.

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China's inflation eases, giving room for stimulus

BEIJING (AP) — China's inflation eased further in September, giving the government more room to stimulate the country's slowing economy.

Consumer inflation fell to 1.9 percent from August's 2 percent rate, data showed Monday. Politically sensitive food prices rose 2.5 percent, down from the previous month's 3.4 percent.

The decline gives Beijing more room to cut interest rates or boost spending to reverse the country's deepest slowdown since the 2008 global crisis.

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By The Associated Press(equals)

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 95.38 points to close at 13,424.23. The Standard & Poor's 500 index was up 11.54 points at 1,440.13 and the Nasdaq composite index rose 20.07 points to 3,064.18.

Benchmark crude finished down a penny at $91.85 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international varieties of oil, rose 79 cents to $114.40.

Wholesale gasoline futures gave up 4.25 cents to $2.85 a gallon. Natural gas fell 12.5 cents to $3.486 per 1,000 cubic feet. Heating oil fell 1.5 cents to $3.21 a gallon.


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