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Business Highlights

January 24, 2019


Belt buckles and beer: Federal shutdown hits businesses hard

WASHINGTON (AP) — From power restaurants in Washington and a belt-buckle maker in Colorado to breweries in California, businesses that count heavily on federal employees as customers are feeling the punishing effects of the government shutdown. In many cases, it’s forcing them to cut workers’ hours and buy less from suppliers — measures that could ripple through the larger U.S. economy.


Government shutdown strains emerge in US air travel system

The strain of the government shutdown is weighing on the nation’s air-travel system, both the federal workers who make it go and the airlines that depend on them. Unions that represent air traffic controllers, flight attendants and pilots are growing concerned about safety with the shutdown well into its fifth week. Airline executives say they are worried that long airport lines could scare off passengers. The economic damage, while small, is starting to show up in their financial reports.


Commerce chief asks why furloughed workers using food banks

NEW YORK (AP) — Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, one of the richest people in President Donald Trump’s Cabinet, is questioning why furloughed federal workers are reluctant to take out loans to get through the government shutdown. Ross was asked on CNBC on Thursday about reports that some of the 800,000 workers currently not receiving paychecks are going to homeless shelters to get food. Democrats say Trump and his team are out of touch about the impact on American workers.


European divisions beyond Brexit on display in Davos

DAVOS, Switzerland (AP) — Europe’s divisions are on display at the World Economic Forum as hundreds of protesters descended on the Swiss ski resort of Davos to lambast the elite attendees for caring more about their balance sheets than the state of the world. Shouting “anti-capitalista” and other chants, the gathering of socialists, environmentalists and others waved banners and signs that read “Davos Stinks” or “Let them eat money” — while braving sub-zero temperatures near the Davos train station.


Starbucks posts better-than-expected profit in fiscal 1Q

SEATTLE (AP) — Improved U.S. holiday sales helped Starbucks Corp. achieve better-than-expected results in its fiscal first quarter. After a disappointing holiday in 2017, Starbucks made some changes. This past year, holiday drinks went on sale earlier and the company removed some merchandise from the lobby to make a clearer path to gift cards


Railroads say economy still growing at steady rate

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The economy appears strong to the major freight railroads that haul the products and raw materials companies rely on, but the lingering trade disputes could derail business if they continue. Union Pacific and CSX railroads both sounded optimistic about the economy when they reported hauling 3 percent more carloads of freight in the fourth quarter.


Will robots take your job? Quarter of US workers at risk

Fully a quarter of U.S. jobs are at risk of robot automation over the coming few years, according to a new report by the Brookings Institution. As artificial intelligence accelerates the automation of today’s work, workers such as chefs and others in food services, short-haul truck drivers and clerical office workers are most likely to be affected. The report states that about 36 million Americans hold jobs with tasks that can be mostly performed by machines using current technology.


Football great Joe Montana looking to score with marijuana

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Hall-of-Fame quarterback Joe Montana is looking to hit pay dirt in the legal marijuana industry. San Jose, California-based Caliva announced Thursday that the Hall of Fame quarterback’s venture capital firm was taking part in a $75 million investment in the company. It didn’t disclose Montana’s portion of the investment. Caliva operates a farm and two retail stores in Northern California and distributes its branded products in roughly two dozen other retail outlets in the state.


Stocks waver again as chipmakers jump and drug companies dip

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks finish mostly higher after a second consecutive day of mixed trading, as strong results from chipmakers are partly offset by losses for drugmakers. Several airlines are also climbing after reporting earnings that came in ahead of Wall Street’s forecasts. Spice maker McCormick fell. The European Central Bank confirmed that it plans to leave interest rates unchanged until at least this summer.


The S&P 500 index rose 3.63 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,642.33. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dipped 22.38 points, or 0.1 percent, to 24,553.24. The Nasdaq composite added 47.69 points, or 0.7 percent, to 7,073.46. The Russell 2000 of small-company stocks gained 10.15 points, or 0.7 percent, to 1,464.41.

U.S. crude oil rose 1 percent to $53.13 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, slipped 0.1 percent to $61.09 per barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline and heating oil both finished little changed, at $1.39 a gallon and $1.89 a gallon, respectively. Natural gas jumped 4 percent to $3.10 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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