Business Highlights

February 20, 2018


Investors are winners as companies lay out tax-saving plans

NEW YORK (AP) — The tax overhaul was sold by its backers as a way to help American workers, and companies have announced plans to give employees bonuses and improve their operations. But the plans also suggest the lion’s share of tax savings will go to investors. Companies have added tens of billions more to buyback programs, a popular way of returning money to investors and making earnings per share look better.


Grocer Albertsons eyes Rite Aid deal in health care push

The owner of Safeway and other grocery brands is buying the drugstore chain Rite Aid as retailers continue to plunge deeper into health care and adjust to swiftly changing shopping habits. Albertsons Companies executives said Tuesday that their purchase of Rite Aid’s more than 2,500 stores will help the combined company become a food and health leader.


Walmart’s bruising battle with Amazon saps its 4Q results

NEW YORK (AP) — Walmart is getting bruised in its battle with online leader Amazon. The world’s largest retailer on Tuesday reported a smaller-than-expected fourth-quarter profit as it wrestled with slower e-commerce sales during the busiest time of the year. Its stock took a beating, falling 10.2 percent to post its biggest single-day percentage drop in 30 years, dragging down the Dow Jones industrial average.


Latvian ECB official won’t resign, rejects bribes report

LONDON (AP) — Latvia’s official on the European Central Bank’s main policymaking council has refused to heed calls to resign following an investigation into suspected bribery and an Associated Press report on allegations of extortion and connections to money laundering. Ilmars Rimsevics, who was detained Saturday and released on bail two days later without charge, is defiant, dismissing the allegations against him as a smear campaign by commercial banks.


New Wynn Resorts CEO denies knowing of claims against mogul

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The executive who took over Wynn Resorts after casino mogul Steve Wynn was accused of sexual misconduct says the public shouldn’t judge until the investigations wrap up. CEO Matt Maddox also said in an interview that the company is ready to move forward without its founder and develop innovative projects. Maddox says he’s established a new leadership initiative with a goal of looking at gender inequality and has been reiterating to employees that it’s a “zero-tolerance company.”


Walmart’s plunge sinks retailers, breaking streak for stocks

NEW YORK (AP) — A steep drop in Walmart’s stock and losses in other sectors pulled U.S. indexes lower Tuesday, snapping a six-day winning streak. The losses deepened in the last hour of trading into a broad sell-off that erased early gains led by technology companies. Walmart had its worst day in 30 years, plunging 10 percent after reporting weak online sales and disappointing earnings. Grocery store operators, retailers, health care companies and industrial stocks accounted for much of the market’s slide.


3M to pay $850 million to settle suit over chemical disposal

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) —3M Co. has agreed to pay the state of Minnesota $850 million to settle a major case alleging the manufacturer damaged natural resources and contaminated groundwater by disposing of chemicals over decades, attorneys announced Tuesday. Minnesota was seeking $5 billion from Maplewood, Minnesota-based 3M in a case that focused on the company’s disposal of chemicals once used to make Scotchgard fabric protector and other products.


Groups want details on Trump’s approval of Keystone pipeline

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Opponents of the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada are asking a judge to force the U.S. government to turn over emails and other documents related to President Donald Trump’s approval of the project. Environmentalists who have sued to stop the pipeline say the documents could bolster their case that Trump’s decision was arbitrary and should be overturned. Government attorneys say the documents include internal deliberations that don’t have to be made public.


Venezuela’s digital coin makes debut

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuela is becoming the first country to launch its own version of bitcoin, a move it hopes will provide a much-needed boost to its credit-stricken economy. Officials say the so-called petro is backed by Venezuela’s crude oil reserves, the largest in the world.


Home Depot 4Q profit rides strong home improvement market

NEW YORK (AP) — A strong home-improvement market pushed Home Depot’s profit higher in the fourth quarter, topping expectations. The Atlanta company’s profit rose 5.6 percent to $1.78 billion, or $1.52 per share, for the three months ended Jan. 28. Earnings, adjusted for pretax expenses, were $1.69 per share. Revenue rose 7.5 percent to $23.88 billion on an increase in customers at existing stores. Same-store sales, a key measure of a retailer’s health, increased 7.5 percent.


The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 15.96 points, or 0.6 percent, to 2,716.26. The Dow Jones industrial average slid 254.63 points, or 1 percent, to 24,964.75. The Nasdaq lost 5.16 points, or 0.1 percent, to 7,234.31. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks gave up 13.56 points, or 0.9 percent, to 1,529.99.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose 22 cents to settle at $61.90 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, shed 42 cents to close at $65.25 a barrel. In other energy futures trading, heating oil added 2 cents to $1.93 a gallon. Wholesale gasoline was little changed at $1.75 a gallon. Natural gas rose 6 cents to $2.62 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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