Berlin to introduce 5 percent tax on tourist hotel stays as it works to bolster finances
Apr 23, 2013 8:27 AM CDT
Berlin's city government has decided to put a 5 percent tax on tourist hotel stays from this summer, part of efforts to shore up the German capital's finances. The so-called "city tax" is to be charged on overnight stays in hotels and other accommodation such as youth hostels and camping sites starting July 1. Business-related stays are being exempted, however. It wasn't immediately clear how the authorities would differentiate one visitor from another. Berlin has become a popular city break...
Thai retail giant CP All to buy discount chain Siam Makro in $6.6 billion deal
Apr 23, 2013 7:09 AM CDT
Thai convenience store giant CP All is making a $6.6 billion offer to buy discount-store operator Siam Makro in Asia's biggest takeover so far this year. The operator of 7-Eleven stores in Thailand on Tuesday announced an agreement to buy a 64.35% stake in Siam Makro from SHV Nederland. It will make a general offer for the remaining shares in Makro. CP All is part of Thai conglomerate Charoen Pokphand Group which is owned by Thailand's richest man Dhanin Chearavanont. The billionaire earlier...
US futures are rising on strong performances from US corporations and ahead of housing report
Apr 23, 2013 7:08 AM CDT
Stock futures are moving higher on more strong earnings from U.S. corporations, and ahead of new data expected to show that the number of homes being built is approaching levels last seen more than four years ago. Dow Jones industrial futures are up 53 points to 14,552. S&P futures have added 3.1 points to 1,559. Nasdaq futures are up 12.25 points to 2,809.50. DuPont, the chemical maker, reported first-quarter profits Tuesday that more than doubled as its agricultural unit did brisk business....
Brewer SABMiller names Alan Clark CEO earlier than planned as former chief has brain tumor
Apr 23, 2013 7:06 AM CDT
SABMiller, the world's second-largest brewer, says it has made Alan Clark its chief executive three months earlier than planned because the previous chief, Graham Mackay, has been diagnosed with a brain tumor. Clark, who has been chief operating officer at the brewer since 2012, was due to succeed Mackay in July after a transitional period. SABMiller said Tuesday the promotion will now take immediate effect. The company, the brewer of 200 beer brands including Peroni Nastro Azzurro, Miller Genuine...
Vote shows strong support in Senate to allow states to collect taxes from Internet sales
Apr 23, 2013 7:05 AM CDT
Tax-free shopping on the Internet could be in jeopardy under a bill making its way through the Senate. The bill would empower states to require online retailers to collect state and local sales taxes for purchases made over the Internet. The sales taxes would be sent to the states where a shopper lives. Under current law, states can only require stores to collect sales taxes if the store has a physical presence in the state. As a result, many online sales are essentially tax-free, giving Internet...
Reports welcome Japan's economic strategy, but raise doubts over debt, rising poverty
Apr 23, 2013 6:35 AM CDT
Japan's efforts to end two decades of stagnation are welcome changes that could spark a recovery, but rising national debt threatens its long-term growth and financial stability, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said in a report Tuesday. Re-establishing fiscal health is Japan's "paramount policy challenge," the OECD said in the report. Japan's public debt is more than twice the size of its economy. The OECD said efforts to restore growth by vastly easing monetary policy...
War shrine visits by Japanese ministers, lawmakers anger China, South Korea
Apr 22, 2013 11:27 PM CDT
Dozens of Japanese lawmakers paid homage at a national war shrine Tuesday morning, risking more anger from neighbors South Korea and China over visits they see as failures to acknowledge Japan's militaristic past. The lawmakers from various parties were seen making offerings to mark the spring festival at Yasukuni Shrine, which honors Japan's war dead, including World War II leaders convicted of war crimes. Japanese media said 168 lawmakers paid the visits, which follow donations to the shrine...
Bernanke's decision to skip US Fed conference in August fuels speculation he'll leave in Jan.
Apr 22, 2013 11:02 PM CDT
Ben Bernanke is intensifying speculation that this year will be his last as Federal Reserve chairman by deciding to skip the Fed's annual August conference in Jackson Hole, Wyo. Jackson Hole has long been a high-profile platform for speeches by Fed chairmen. Since taking over the Fed in 2006, Bernanke has been the marquee speaker each year. In 2010, he used his speech to signal that the Fed could launch another bond-buying program. Stock prices jumped in response to his remarks. His second four-year...
Asia stock markets lower after survey shows a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing growth
Apr 22, 2013 10:29 PM CDT
Asian stock markets fell Tuesday after China's manufacturing growth slowed in April, adding to worries about the health of the world's second-largest economy. A preliminary survey by HSBC Corp. said its monthly purchasing managers' index fell to 50.5 from March's 51.6 on a 100-point scale. That comes on top of data released last week that showed an unexpected slowdown in China's first-quarter economic growth. Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 1.3 percent to 21,760.02. In Mainland China, the Shanghai...
HSBC survey shows China manufacturing growth slowing this month
Apr 22, 2013 10:25 PM CDT
China's manufacturing growth decelerated this month, a survey showed Monday, adding to questions about the strength of the recovery in the world's second largest economy. HSBC Corp. said Tuesday the preliminary version of its monthly purchasing managers index declined to 50.5 from March's 51.6 on a 100-point scale on which numbers above 50 represent an expansion. China reported an unexpected decline in economic growth to 7.7 percent in the first three months of the year from the previous quarter's...
S&P parent seeks to have lawsuit against rating agency tossed, calls US claims a 'stretch'
Apr 22, 2013 8:35 PM CDT
The parent company of Standard & Poor's wants a federal judge to dismiss a U.S. government lawsuit that claims the ratings agency gave falsely high ratings to mortgage investments that helped trigger the financial crisis. Attorneys for McGraw-Hill Cos. Inc. delivered their arguments in documents filed Monday in U.S. District Court in California. The motion asserts that the government's complaint against S&P is "a stretch," noting that other agencies issued ratings identical to S&P....
Wal-Mart's CEO Mike Duke received compensation worth $20.7 million in 2012, up 14 percent
Apr 22, 2013 7:00 PM CDT
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. gave its CEO Mike Duke a pay package in 2012 worth $20.7 million, a 14 percent increase from the year before, according to an Associated Press analysis of a regulatory filing Monday. Duke's performance-based cash bonus jumped more than 50 percent for a year that saw the world's largest retailer posting strong financial results despite a challenging economy for its low-income shoppers. The pay rise came despite allegations of bribery in Wal-Mart's Mexico operations that surfaced...
Dow and S&P 500 edge higher as energy stocks rebound; investors wait on earnings
Apr 22, 2013 4:44 PM CDT
Stocks edged higher on Monday as energy stocks got a lift from recovering oil prices. The energy industry climbed 1 percent, making it the biggest gainer in the Standard & Poor's 500 index. Oil rose 75 cents, or 0.9 percent, to $88.76 a barrel Monday. A week ago, crude fell below $90 a barrel for the first time this year after reports that China's economic growth slowed. The broader market managed only a modest advance as investors focused on the outlook for company profits at the start of...
Caterpillar 1Q profit shrank; slowdown in orders for mining gear prompts cut to 2013 outlook
Apr 22, 2013 4:35 PM CDT
A slowdown in the mining business is digging a hole in Caterpillar's profits. First-quarter profit shrank 45 percent and Caterpillar has lowered its expectations for full-year sales and profit because its mining business is slowing. Sales of Caterpillar-branded mining machines such as large trucks and bulldozers will drop by half this year, the company said on Monday. Caterpillar, based in Peoria, Ill., said mining customers placed big orders for equipment last year, but then mining profits fell,...
Hasbro beats expectations as Monopoly token contest helps lift sales
Apr 22, 2013 4:32 PM CDT
Hasbro reported first-quarter results Monday that beat Wall Street expectations as the toy maker benefited from an online contest that let people vote to eliminate one of its Monopoly tokens and introduce a new one. The Pawtucket, R.I., maker of G.I. Joe, My Little Pony and Transformers said revenue rose for three of its four categories: games, girls and preschool. Its boys category continued to face troubles, with sales down 20 percent. Rival Mattel, which is the world's biggest toy maker with...
US Treasury bond market at a glance
Apr 22, 2013 4:26 PM CDT
Key barometers in the Treasury market late Monday, compared with late Friday. Price changes in the 10-year note and 30-year bond are per $100 invested: Prices Today Previous Session 10-year note +12.5 cents _18.8 cents 30-year bond +15.6 cents _53.1 cents Yields --- --- 1-month bill 0.03 0.03 3-month bill 0.04 0.05 6-month bill 0.08...
Halliburton posts $18M loss on litigation charge; in talks to settle most BP spill claims
Apr 22, 2013 4:20 PM CDT
Halliburton Co. said Monday that it lost money in the first quarter after adding $637 million to the reserve it has to cover litigation over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. It's also in talks to settle most claims related to the spill. The Houston company lost $18 million in the first quarter, or 2 cents per share. Excluding the money set aside, Halliburton would have posted a profit of 67 cents, beating Wall Street expectations. Shares rose $2.08, or 5.6 percent, to close at $39.29 Monday....
How the Dow Jones industrial average and other major indexes fared Monday
Apr 22, 2013 4:14 PM CDT
The Dow Jones industrial average and the Standard & Poor's 500 index edged higher after energy stocks climbed. The price of oil rebounded following a sell-off last week. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 19.66 points, or 0.1 percent, to close at 14,567.17. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 7.25 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,562.50. The Nasdaq composite rose 27.50 points, or 0.9 percent, to 3,233.55. For the year: The Dow is up 1,463.03 points, or 11.2 percent. The S&P 500...
News Summary: Energy rebound lifts stocks ahead of glut of earnings
Apr 22, 2013 4:13 PM CDT
OIL FUELS REBOUND: The stock market got a lift from oil companies Monday as the price of crude rebounded after a big sell-off last week. Bargain hunters helped push up energy stocks in the Standard & Poor's 500 index by 1 percent. EARNINGS GLUT: Investors remained cautious ahead of a glut of earnings this week from companies including Exxon Mobil and Apple. The Dow edged up 0.1 percent and the Standard & Poor's 500 closed 0.5 percent higher. TECH REVIVAL: The Nasdaq rose the most among...
Sharp drop in price of oil feeds decline at the pump; analysts say even cheaper gas on the way
Apr 22, 2013 4:12 PM CDT
A sharp decline in the price of oil this month is making gasoline cheaper at a time of year when it typically gets more expensive. It's a relief to motorists and business owners and a positive development for the economy. Over the past three weeks, the price of oil has fallen by 9 percent to $89 a barrel. That has helped extend a slide in gasoline prices that began in late February. Nationwide, average retail prices have fallen by 27 cents per gallon, or 7 percent, since Feb. 27, to $3.52 per...
Halliburton, Six Flags, Hasbro, Celgene are big market movers on Monday
Apr 22, 2013 3:53 PM CDT
Stocks that moved substantially or traded heavily Monday on the New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq Stock Market: NYSE Halliburton Co., up $2.08 at $39.29 The oilfield services company says it lost $18 million in the first quarter, but its results still beat Wall Street expectations. Six Flags Entertainment Corp., up $5.86 at $77.11 The amusement park operator took a smaller loss in the first quarter as its attendance rose 41 percent compared with last year. AbbVie Inc., up $1.81 at $44.20...
Figures on government spending and debt
Apr 22, 2013 3:30 PM CDT
Figures on government spending and debt (last six digits are eliminated). The government's fiscal year runs Oct. 1 through Sept. 30. Total public debt subject to limit April 19 16,742,992 Statutory debt limit N/A Total public debt outstanding April 19 16,781,968 Operating balance April 19 111,549 Interest fiscal year 2013 through March 120,989 Interest same period 2012 ...
Dollar and precious metals at a glance
Apr 22, 2013 2:54 PM CDT
Key currency exchange rates Monday, compared with late Friday in New York: Dollar vs: Exchange Rate Pvs Day Yen 99.42 99.56 Euro $1.3060 $1.3059 Pound $1.5281 $1.5230 Swiss franc 0.9344 0.9334 Canadian dollar 1.0261 1.0271 Mexican peso 12.2705 12.2906 Metal Price (troy oz.) Pvs Day NY Merc Gold $1421.00 $1395.30 NY HSBC Bank US $1425.00 $1397.00 NY...
For shareholder meetings, Wells Fargo and Goldman Sachs pull up stakes for Salt Lake City
Apr 22, 2013 2:16 PM CDT
Call it the Salt Lake shuffle. The spring ritual of bank shareholder meetings is starting this week, and two major banks _ San Francisco-based Wells Fargo and New York-based Goldman Sachs _ are decamping from their hometown cities to Salt Lake City. If the cross-pollination of Mormons and mammon seems strange, it's because the two banks historically have held the meetings in their headquarter cities. This is the first time that either has pulled up stakes for SLC. The banks say it's because...
Sales of previously occupied homes dipped to 4.92M in March as supply remained tight
Apr 22, 2013 2:11 PM CDT
Sales of previously occupied U.S. homes dipped in March as the supply remained tight. But the sales pace remained ahead of last year's. The National Association of Realtors said Monday that sales dipped to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.92 million, from 4.95 million in February. February's figure was revised lower. Sales in March were 10.3 percent higher than a year earlier. Sales have remained mostly unchanged in the past four months _ largely, analysts say, because of a limited supply...
Despite rising hopes over the global economy, survey finds companies reluctant to embrace M&A
Apr 22, 2013 1:33 PM CDT
Companies around the world are still reluctant to go on the acquisition trail even though they are becoming more confident about the global economy, a survey found Monday. In its half-yearly assessment of the intentions of big companies, accounting and consultancy firm Ernst & Young said the growing optimism has yet to be translated into more investment or corporate deal-making. The survey was based on responses from 1,600 senior executives in 50 countries, 85 percent of which had annual revenues...
EU lifts Syria oil embargo, allowing crude exports and tech imports, to support opposition
Apr 22, 2013 1:32 PM CDT
The European Union on Monday lifted its oil embargo on Syria to provide more economic support to the forces fighting to oust President Bashar Assad's regime. The decision will allow for crude exports from rebel-held territory, the import of oil and gas production technology, and investments in the Syrian oil industry, the EU said in a statement. Any export or investment initiatives will be taken in close coordination with the leaders of the Syrian opposition, the bloc's 27 foreign ministers decided...
Correction: Bank Closures story
Apr 22, 2013 1:30 PM CDT
In an April 19 story about bank closures, The Associated Press erroneously reported that state regulators closed First Federal Bank, based in Lexington, Ky. It was closed by federal regulators. A corrected version of the story is below: FDIC closes 2 banks in Florida, 1 in Kentucky Regulators close small lenders in Florida, Kentucky; brings US bank failures this year to 8 WASHINGTON (AP) _ Regulators on Friday closed two small banks in Florida and one in Kentucky, bringing the total number...
Israeli airlines end strike after reaching deal with government over 'Open Skies' deal with EU
Apr 22, 2013 12:19 PM CDT
Israel's airlines on Monday ended a two-day strike that stranded thousands of passengers after reaching an agreement with the government over the new "Open Skies" aviation deal with the European Union. The Finance Ministry said it agreed to address the airlines' concerns over security costs derived from deal. As a result, the airlines announced they would stop their strike, and the powerful Histadrut labor union also said it would drop its plan to halt flights out of Israel's Ben-Gurion international...
Tire maker Michelin says sales slump 8.1 percent in 1st quarter
Apr 22, 2013 11:41 AM CDT
French tire-maker Michelin says its sales slumped 8.1 percent in the first quarter on weak car markets in Europe and North America. Michelin says it made revenue of (EURO)4.88 billion ($3.36 billion) in the January-March period, down from (EURO)5.3 billion in the same period a year earlier. In a statement Monday, the Clermont-Ferrand, France-based tire maker said the sales slump was in-line with its February forecast of achieving flat sales volume over the full year. Growth in emerging markets,...
European countries pursuing toughest austerity see limited benefit as growth remains elusive
Apr 22, 2013 10:52 AM CDT
The austerity pain pursued by a number of European countries led to very little gain in 2012. Figures Monday from Eurostat, the European Union's statistics office, showed that many of the countries hit hardest by Europe's financial crisis, such as Portugal and Spain, saw their budget deficits increase last year _ even though they have pursued strict austerity policies designed to get their public finances back into shape. Though Europe's combined deficit level fell during the year _ largely thanks...
A look at bank shareholder meetings and their locations
Apr 22, 2013 10:44 AM CDT
It's a rite of spring: big banks hosting their annual shareholder meetings. They're the one time of year when CEOs of the big public companies face large groups of investors, answer their questions, and allow them to vote on proposals from other shareholders. Companies often meet in their headquarter cities, though this year, two major banks are decamping to Salt Lake City, Utah, for the first time. Here's a round-up: _San Francisco-based Wells Fargo meets Tuesday in Salt Lake City. _Citigroup...
Irish drugmaker Elan rejects takeover bid by Royalty Pharma as too low; Elan shares rise
Apr 22, 2013 10:13 AM CDT
The board of Irish drugmaker Elan has unanimously rejected a takeover bid from Royalty Pharma, saying the U.S. investment company's offer of $11.25 a share is much too low. Royalty last week lowered its bid for Elan from an original $12 per share offer, pricing in the result of a $1 billion share buyback by Elan. Elan chairman Robert Ingram said Monday that Royalty's offer "grossly undervalues Elan's current business platform and our future prospects." Royalty's offer would require backing from...
Survey: Economists say higher taxes, lower US government spending not affecting businesses
Apr 22, 2013 8:18 AM CDT
Washington's budget tightening is having a minimal effect on businesses, a survey of business economists released Monday shows. The National Association for Business Economics survey asks how higher taxes and lower government spending effected businesses in the first three months of 2013. Ninety-three percent of respondents say the political developments had no effect on employment levels in the first quarter, and 95 percent say they had no impact on capital spending plans. Overall, the results...
Futures sharply higher to open week in which a third of the Dow Jones posts earnings
Apr 22, 2013 7:04 AM CDT
Futures are rising to start a week in which a third of the Dow Jones Industrial Average reports quarterly earnings. Dow Jones industrial futures are up 48 points to 14,518. S&P futures have added 5.9 points to 1,553.50. Nasdaq futures are up 14.25 points to 2,782.50. Monday offered a mixed scorecard. Hasbro and Halliburton beat Wall Street expectations. Caterpillar, a big bellwether for economic growth, slid in premarket trading after a tough quarter. It also cut its outlook for the year....
Lufthansa ground staff walk out on 1-day strike, airline cancels most flights
Apr 22, 2013 3:55 AM CDT
Ground staff at Lufthansa, Germany's biggest airline, walked off the job Monday on a one-day strike that prompted the company to cancel most of the day's scheduled flights and left it complaining of "excessive" union tactics. The strike by airline technicians and service personnel across Germany started in the early hours. Lufthansa moved in advance to head off chaos, announcing on Saturday that it was canceling almost all scheduled short-haul flights and the majority of long-haul services. In...
Despite rising hopes over the global economy, survey finds companies reluctant to embrace M&A
Apr 21, 2013 6:02 PM CDT
Companies around the world are still reluctant to go on the acquisition trail even though they are becoming are more confident about the global economy, a survey found Monday. In its half-yearly assessment of the intentions of big companies, accounting and consultancy firm Ernst & Young said the growing optimism has yet to be translated into more investment or corporate deal-making. The survey was based on responses from 1,600 senior executives in 50 countries, 85 percent of which had annual...
Fla-based compounding pharmacy recalls dozens of sterile drug products, including injectables
Apr 21, 2013 12:48 PM CDT
A Florida-based compounding pharmacy is voluntarily recalling all lots of its sterile non-expired drug products sold nationwide over concerns the products are not sterile and may contain bacteria, Food and Drug Administration officials said Sunday. The FDA encouraged health care facilities and providers who have received sterile products, including all injectables, from Balanced Solutions Compounding Pharmacy to immediately check their medical supplies, quarantine the products, and follow the...
Israeli Cabinet approves 'Open Skies' deal with EU despite airline strikes, worker protest
Apr 21, 2013 12:42 PM CDT
Israel's Cabinet on Sunday approved a deal to allow more EU flights, hours after the country's airlines went on strike out of concerns that the agreement would cost them jobs and possibly even ruin their companies. The approval of "Open Skies" raised the possibility of a longer, broader strike by Israel's major labor union. Already, hundreds of people scheduled to fly on Israel's three carriers, El Al, Arkia and Israir, have been stranded. Later Sunday, Israel's main airline El-Al expanded the...
They're relentless, they're exciting and they're on fire. Will consumer stocks burn investors?
Apr 21, 2013 12:02 PM CDT
The great engine of global growth, the American consumer, is starting to sputter. Retail sales are falling, consumer confidence is sagging and financial analysts are cutting profit forecasts for clothing chains, department stores and restaurants. Stocks of these companies seem vulnerable to a pullback after more than tripling in the last four years. That's because they sell "discretionary" goods that people can delay buying. "The consumer looks a lot more precarious than he did a few weeks ago,"...
Russian billionaire Usmanov ousts steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal from top spot on UK rich list
Apr 21, 2013 11:28 AM CDT
Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov is Britain's richest person, displacing steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal, who held the distinction for the past eight years, according to a list published Sunday. The Sunday Times, which publishes the annual list, said Mittal's fortune fell 21 percent in the past year to 10 billion pounds ($15 billion) as share values in his ArcelorMittal steel business tumbled. The Indian-born tycoon, who was No. 1 on the list for the longest time since its first edition in 1989,...
Blackstone founder Stephen A. Schwarzman establishes $300 million China scholarship program
Apr 21, 2013 8:41 AM CDT
A U.S. private equity tycoon announced Sunday the establishment of a $300 million endowed scholarship program in China for students from around the world, and billed it as a rival to the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship. Stephen A. Schwarzman, founder of the private equity firm Blackstone, said he would give $100 million as a personal gift and raise another $200 million to endow the Schwarzman Scholars program at Beijing's Tsinghua University. It will be the largest philanthropic gift with foreign...