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Business Highlights

May 9, 2017

Retail funk: Stores face biggest challenges since recession

NEW YORK (AP) — It’s starting to look a lot like the Great Recession redux for retailers. More than twice as many stores have closed this year than at the same point last year. Bankruptcies are far outpacing last year’s rate. Retailers slashed jobs at the sharpest pace in seven years this spring. And retailers collectively could report the biggest drop in first-quarter profits since 2009. This time, the culprit’s not the economy but shoppers whose habits have changed profoundly and permanently, as they shop online more and look for deals. The results this week from department stores like Macy’s, Kohl’s and J.C. Penney are expected to illustrate the latest damage by the spending shift and the dominance of Amazon.


Euro dodges new crisis with Macron win, but needs fixes

LISBON, Portugal (AP) — The euro, the target of populist politicians who claim it has inflicted undue economic pain on Europeans, has a new lease on life after Emmanuel Macron, a firmly pro-euro moderate, won the French presidential election this week. His rival, the right-wing Marine Le Pen, had wanted to pull France out of the bloc, with likely painful consequences for the currency. But even Macron acknowledges the need to strengthen and reform the euro. He will find, however, it an uphill battle.


Sale of Trump Caribbean property revives ethics concerns

WASHINGTON (AP) — A multimillion-dollar luxury Caribbean property Donald Trump purchased four years ago is for sale, raising the possibility that a buyer could see it as a way to get on the president’s radar. It’s all part of the push and pull between the first family’s business interests and their government service — a dynamic that only intensifies as the still new Trump administration wades deeper into policymaking.


Kushner emerged as conduit for Canada on NAFTA talks

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner has emerged as a key player in free trade discussions between the U.S. and Canada. The White House says Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called Kushner worried that Trump would suddenly withdraw from the North America Free Trade Agreement. Canadian media says it was Kushner who first reached out to Trudeau’s staff. Either way, Trump cites that phone call brokered by Kushner as the reason he decided to renegotiate NAFTA instead of scrap it.


Disney gambles on avatar theme park, 8 years after hit movie

NEW YORK (AP) — You may not have thought much about the 2009 movie “Avatar” over the past eight years, but Disney sure has. It’s wagering a reported half-billion dollars that you and zillions of other people will line up for new theme park attractions based on the movie’s bioluminescent world of Pandora. It’s a big gamble, even by Disney standards. While the movie smashed box-office records, thanks to its dazzling 3-D effects and higher 3-D ticket prices, it’s also left little but a fading echo in pop-culture consciousness. There have been no “Avatar” sequels yet, and won’t be until at least 2020. There are no spinoffs; memorable characters and catchphrases are also in short supply. Disney doesn’t even own “Avatar”; it merely holds the theme-park rights.


With Lacoste, Mont Blanc, socialist Cuba has 1st luxury mall

HAVANA (AP) — The saleswomen in L’Occitane en Provence’s new Havana store make $12.50 a month. The acacia eau de toilette they sell costs $95.20 a bottle. Rejuvenating face cream is $162.40 an ounce. A few doors down, a Canon EOS camera goes for $7,542.01. A Bulgari watch, $10,200. In the heart of the capital of a nation founded on ideals of social equality, the business arm of the Cuban military has transformed a century-old shopping arcade into a temple to conspicuous capitalism.


Fox harassment claims create clouds around Sky takeover bid

LONDON (AP) — A woman who says she was mistreated by former Fox TV star Bill O’Reilly is calling on British regulators to reject 21st Century Fox’s bid to take control of broadcaster Sky PLC. Wendy Walsh, who was once a regular guest on Fox News, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the deal would allow Fox to bring a culture of sexual and racial harassment to the U.K. Ofcom, the British regulator, is reviewing the proposed deal to determine whether, among other things, the management is “fit and proper” to hold a broadcasting license.


Job openings increase slightly in March

WASHINGTON (AP) — Steady job growth has left U.S. employers with an increasingly shallow pool of unemployed workers to consider hiring, something that could lead to faster wage gains. The number of job postings for each unemployed person fell in March to its lowest level in more than 16 years, according to a report released Tuesday by the Labor Department. This means that businesses may face fewer qualified applicants for jobs and could choose to increase pay in order to attract workers — possibly causing wages to accelerate after several years of sluggish growth.


Study: Side effects emerge after approval for many US drugs

CHICAGO (AP) — Almost one-third of new drugs approved by U.S. regulators over a decade ended up years later with warnings about unexpected, sometimes life-threatening side effects or complications, a new analysis found. The results covered all 222 prescription drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration from 2001 through 2010. The researchers looked at potential problems that cropped up during routine monitoring that’s done once a medicine is on the market. The 71 flagged drugs included top-sellers for treating depression, arthritis, infections and blood clots. Safety issues included risks for serious skin reactions, liver damage, cancer and even death.


Amazon gives voice-enabled speaker a screen, video calling

NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon is giving its voice-enabled Echo speaker a touch screen and video-calling capabilities as it competes with Google’s efforts at bringing “smarts” to the home. The 7-inch screen on the new Echo Show enables the speaker to supplement voice responses with visuals and other information displays, similar to the Echo-like features offered on the Fire tablets and Fire TV streaming devices.


The Nasdaq rose 17.93 points, or 0.3 percent, to 6,120.59, a record high. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index bobbed around its own record through the day, before losing momentum in the last half hour. It slipped 2.46 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,396.92. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 36.50 points, or 0.2 percent, to 20,975.78

Benchmark U.S. crude fell 55 cents to settle at $45.88 per barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, fell 61 cents to $48.73 per barrel. Natural gas rose 6 cents to $3.23 per 1,000 cubic feet, heating oil fell 1 cent to $1.44 per gallon and wholesale gasoline slipped 3 cents to $1.49 per gallon.

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