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Business Highlights

March 5, 2019

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Holiday season defines winners and losers in retail

NEW YORK (AP) — The holiday season turned out to be a mixed bag for retailers. Retailers like Walmart, Target and Best Buy that have been responding faster to a more competitive landscape and shoppers’ shift to online are enjoying strong sales. But mall-based clothing chains and department stores continue to muddle along. If the economy slows down, those that never benefited from a booming economy could see their fortunes fall even more.

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US service firms grew at fastest pace since fall 2018

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. service companies grew in February at the fastest pace in three months, rebounding after a decline in January. The Institute for Supply Management, an association of purchasing managers, reported Tuesday that its service index rose to 59.7 percent last month, up from 56.7 percent in January. Executives of service companies are concerned about U.S. trade disputes but they remain optimistic about overall business conditions, the ISM says.

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Japan court OK’s Nissan ex-Chairman Ghosn’s release on bail

TOKYO (AP) — A lawyer for former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn says a Tokyo court has approved his release on 1 billion yen ($8.9 million) bail. Tuesday’s ruling rejects an appeal by prosecutors to keep him jailed. Ghosn could be freed as soon as Wednesday morning, according to Japan’s Kyodo News.

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Papa John’s, Schnatter reach settlement agreement

LOUISVILLE, Kentucky (AP) — Papa John’s has reached a settlement agreement with founder John Schnatter that will see him step down from the company’s board. The agreement comes after more of a year of tussling between the Louisville-based pizza chain and Schnatter, who made a series of racially insensitive remarks that caused sales to plummet.

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US budget deficit up 77 percent so far this budget year

WASHINGTON (AP) — The federal government recorded a budget surplus in January. But so far this budget year, the total deficit is 77 percent higher than a year ago. The Treasury Department says that the deficit for the first four months of this budget year, which began Oct. 1, totaled $310.3 billion. That’s up from a deficit of $175.7 billion in the same period a year ago. The surplus in January was $8.7 billion.

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US new-home sales rose 3.7 percent in December

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sales of new U.S. homes climbed in December to their highest pace in seven months, a sign that lower mortgage rates are helping the real estate market. The Commerce Department says that new-home sales rose 3.7 percent in December to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 621,000. November’s sales were revised down to 599,000 from an annual rate of 657,000.

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Exxon, Chevron raise production forecast in Texas-New Mexico

DALLAS (AP) — Exxon and Chevron are raising their forecasts of oil production in the Permian Basin. Exxon expects to boost production in west Texas and New Mexico to more than 1 million barrels of oil a day as soon as 2024, up from a previous forecast of 600,000 barrels a day. Chevron looks to double output to 900,000 barrels a day in 2023.

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Target hits on all cylinders in the fourth quarter

NEW YORK (AP) — Target’s expanded online delivery options, new brands and updated stores helped drive shoppers to visit and spend more during the critical holiday shopping season. Target, which is trying to narrow the gap between itself and online leader Amazon, enjoyed a 31 percent spike in online sales. Comparable sales, which include sales at stores opened at least a year and online sales, rose 5.3 percent. It was the best performance since 2004.

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Hit the gym, then shop? Kohl’s links up with Planet Fitness

NEW YORK (AP) — Some shrunken Kohl’s stores are getting a new neighbor: Planet Fitness gyms. Kohl’s, which is on a mission to shrink its biggest department stores, says it will lease or sell the empty space at 10 locations to Planet Fitness. The new neighbor won’t share doors with Kohl’s, but the company hopes that those who frequent Planet Fitness will also stop at Kohl’s to buy fitness trackers or sneakers.

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CEO says Southwest is losing millions weekly in labor fight

DALLAS (AP) — The CEO says Southwest Airlines is losing millions a week from grounded planes, which the airline blames on a union. Southwest filed a lawsuit last week against the union representing its aircraft mechanics, claiming they are grounding planes by writing up minor maintenance problems. The two sides are locked in a bitter dispute over a new contract.

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Industrial, tech companies pull US stocks slightly lower

NEW YORK (AP) — A mostly listless day on Wall Street ended Tuesday with stocks closing slightly lower as losses in industrial, technology and financial stocks outweighed gains elsewhere in the market. Stocks wavered between small gains and losses through much of the day, with communications companies and retailers bucking the overall decline. Mixed data on new U.S. home sales weighed on homebuilders. The stagnant trading came as investors looked ahead to a batch of economic data later this week.

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The S&P 500 index dropped 3.16 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,789.65. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 13.02 points, or 0.1 percent, to 25,806.63. The Nasdaq composite slipped 1.21 points, or 0.02 percent, to 7,576.36. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies gave up 7.15 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,568.28.