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Business Highlights

October 2, 2018


Amazon jumps out ahead of its rivals and raises wages to $15

NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon, the company that transformed the way we shop for just about everything, is jumping out ahead of the pack again: It has announced a minimum wage of $15 an hour for its U.S. employees. That could force other big companies across a multitude of industries to raise their pay, too. Amazon also says it will push Congress to increase the federal minimum wage, now at $7.25.


Tesla 3Q production numbers up but can they be sustained?

Tesla Motors accelerated production of its pivotal Model 3 sedan during the summer just as CEO Elon Musk promised. The performance vindicated Musk amid a backdrop of baffling behavior that jeopardized his job. The company announced Tuesday that it made 80,142 vehicles in the third quarter, marking a 50 percent increase over the previous quarter. Tesla also made a major leap in cars delivered to its customers. The progress is essential to Tesla’s survival, with $1.3 billion debt due to be repaid.


Poll: Half of young Americans see better financial future

A new poll shows about half of young Americans expect to be financially better off than their parents, a sign the dream of upward mobility is alive but somewhat tempered. The poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and MTV found half of 15- to 26-year-olds think they will eventually be better off than their parents in terms of household finances. About 29 percent expect to do as well as their parents, and 20 percent expect to be worse off.


Fed Chair Powell says gradual rate hikes best approach

BOSTON (AP) — Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell says he sees no need to drop the central bank’s current gradual approach to raising interest rates. Powell says the current combination of steady, low inflation and very low unemployment show the country is going through “extraordinary times.” The central bank is trying to make sure it doesn’t raise rates too quickly and push the country into a recession or move too slowly and set off higher inflation.


J.C. Penney names former exec of Jo-Ann’s as CEO

NEW YORK (AP) — J.C. Penney has named Jill Soltau, who most recently served as president and CEO of fabric and crafts chain Jo-Ann Stores, to be its next CEO, effective Oct. 15. Soltau, a 30-year retail veteran, succeeds Marvin Ellison, who resigned this past summer to take the top job at home improvement chain Lowe’s after less than four years at the helm. Penny’s stock rose 10 percent in after-hours trading.


Walmart to buy online plus-size women’s brand Eloquii

NEW YORK (AP) — Walmart says it’s acquiring an online plus-size fashion brand called Eloquii, continuing its buying spree of niche brands as tries to compete better with Amazon.com. Walmart declined to disclose the purchase price but says the move will help it get a foothold into the $21 billion plus-size women’s clothing arena. Eloquii also operates five retail stores.


Social Security, Medicare oversight posts vacant for 3 years

WASHINGTON (AP) — Key posts overseeing the financial health of Social Security and Medicare have been vacant for more than three years, leaving the programs without independent accountability in the face of dire predictions about approaching insolvency. Most Americans may not even realize there’s such a thing as “public trustees” for the bedrock programs, but insiders say the special government advisers help keep annual financial reports honest. The vacancies persist with Washington locked in partisan strife.


Arrested Audi CEO Rupert Stadler leaves company

BERLIN (AP) — Suspended Audi CEO Rupert Stadler is leaving the company, more than three months after he was arrested as part of a probe into parent company Volkswagen’s manipulation of diesel emissions controls. Volkswagen said Tuesday it has reached an agreement with Stadler that will see him leave with immediate effect.


Retailers sink as Amazon raises hourly pay; Dow at a record

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks close mostly lower as Amazon says it will raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour, putting pressure on others to follow suit. Smaller companies continue to take sharp losses. Industrial companies rise and the 30-stock Dow Jones Industrial Average closes at a record high. Online clothing company Stitch Fix is plunging after a disappointing report brings an end to a big rally over the past year. Pepsi is lower after it cut its profit forecast because of the strong dollar.


The S&P 500 index fell 1.16 points to 2,923.43. The Dow added 122.73 points, or 0.5 percent, to 26,773.94. The Nasdaq composite lost 37.75 points, or 0.5 percent, to 7,999.55. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks fell 16.95 points, or 1 percent, to 1,656.04.

Benchmark U.S. crude fell 0.1 percent to $75.23 in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, slipped 0.2 percent to $84.80 a barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline was little changed at $2.13 a gallon and heating oil remained at $2.41 a gallon. Natural gas rose 2.3 percent to $3.17 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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