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August 19, 2014

Daily Wrap: Home Depot is hot; smelling like Bieber is not

Filed under: Finance, marketing — Tags: , , , — DoctorBusiness @ 4:00 pm

TODAY’S INDEXES                 Dow industrials  16,919.59   + 80.85   S&P 500   1981.60    + 9.86   Nasdaq   4527.52    + 19.20

UPBEAT RETAILERS: Earnings reports from TJX, Home Depot and Dick’s Sporting Goods were a contrast to the disappointing results that several of their retail competitors posted last week.  Home Depot shares rose 5.6 percent after the chain beat analysts’ estimates and raised its forecast for the rest of the year. TJX, parent of T.J. Maxx and Marshall’s stores, jumped 8.6 percent after also reporting better-than-expected results. Dick’s gained 1.6 percent after beating second-quarter estimates, even though it said promotions and advertising costs would weigh down second-half profits. 

NEAR A RECORD: The stock market seems to be recovering from its late summer swoon, having risen on six of the last eight trading days. After today’s 0.5 percent gain, the S&P 500 is within 7 points of the record it set July 24.

SINKING SCENTS: Despite the upbeat retail news noted above, not everything is flying off of stores’ shelves. Take the fragrances named for singers Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift, for example. Elizabeth Arden blamed the celebrity scents for a quarterly loss that was much larger than expected, and the company’s shares cratered 23 percent.

MOBILE PRICE WAR: A new family cell-phone plan with double the amount of data may attract more customers to Sprint, but investors aren’t loving the competitive move. The mobile carrier’s shares dropped 4 percent.

POLISHED: Apple investors, optimistic about new versions of the iPhone and other products, they bid the shares up 1.4 percent to a record $100.53.

LOCAL INDEX: The Bloomberg St. Louis Index rose 0.3 percent, slightly less than the broader market.

   STL STOCKS                GAINERS                                          LOSERS                           Build-A-Bear  4 pay day loans.4%      Reliv International  -4.1% Peabody Energy  2.8%      Mallinckrodt  -3.5% American Railcar  2.6%      Allied Healthcare  -2.8%

LOCAL GAINER: American Railcar Industries advanced 2.6 percent after a Canadian agency recommended that older tank cars be banned from carrying flammable liquids. The report by Canada’s Transportation Safety Board, which was investigating last year’s fatal accident in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, may lead to increased demand for new rail cars.

ANALYST’S INSIGHTS:  Barry Bannister, chief equity strategist at Stifel Nicolaus, illustrated a recent report with a picture of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Instead of famine, war, pestilence and death, his threatening figures are the Federal Reserve, war, recession and bear markets. Bannister is no doom-and-gloomer, though; in fact, he says the market is handling the horsemen quite well. He just increased his year-end forecast for the S&P 500 to 2,300, which implies a 16 percent gain in the next four months. He notes, as quoted by Bloomberg, that “the arrival of bullish stragglers often pushes stocks higher, albeit with greater volatility.”

THE DAY AHEAD: We’ll learn more about the retail climate from Lowe’s and Target, both of which report earnings in the morning. Hewlett Packard follows with results after the closing bell, and the minutes of a July Federal Reserve policy meeting may provide clues about the Fed’s interest-rate strategy.


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August 18, 2014

China says Mercedes guilty of price abuses

Filed under: Prices, legal — Tags: , , , — DoctorBusiness @ 4:48 am

BEIJING (AP) — China’s government said Monday it has concluded Mercedes-Benz violated anti-monopoly law and charged excessive prices for parts, adding to a growing number of global automakers snared in an investigation of the industry.

The luxury unit of Germany’s Daimler AG abused its control over supplies of spare parts to engage in “vertical price-fixing,” according to the official Xinhua News Agency. It said investigators from the price bureau of the eastern province of Jiangsu found prices were so high that purchasing the parts used to make one Mercedes C-class car would cost the equivalent of buying 12 vehicles.

An official said earlier that Volkswagen AG’s Audi unit and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV’s Chrysler would face unspecified punishment for violating the anti-monopoly law.

Chinese regulators have launched investigations of foreign auto, technology, pharmaceutical and dairy companies over the past two years using the 2008 anti-monopoly law in an apparent effort to force down consumer prices.

“Mercedes-Benz is a typical case of vertical price fixing — that is, the use of its dominant position in after-market parts to maintain price controls,” said Zhou Gao, chief of the Jiangsu price agency’s anti-monopoly unit, according to Xinhua.

It gave no indication what penalty Mercedes might face.

In response to questions, Mercedes said it was “assisting the authorities” in the investigation.

“Please understand that we are unable to comment further on what is still an ongoing matter,” the company said in a statement.

Monday’s report gave the clearest explanation yet of the grounds for the industry probe.

Industry analysts have suggested regulators were motivated by complaints global automakers use their control over supplies of spare parts to charge inflated prices.

Toyota Motor Co. has said its Lexus unit also is under scrutiny best payday advance. General Motors Co.’s main China joint venture said last week it has responded to requests by regulators for information but gave no indication it was the target of a formal investigation.

Business groups welcomed the enactment of China’s anti-monopoly law in 2008 as a step toward clarifying operating conditions. Since then, they have said it is enforced more actively against foreign companies than against local rivals.

Other companies under investigation include Qualcomm Inc., a San Diego, California-based maker of chips used in mobile phones, and software giant Microsoft Corp.

Mercedes and Audi responded earlier to the investigation by cutting prices for replacement parts such as windshields by up to 38 percent. Chrysler cut prices of imported vehicles.

The European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, in a statement last week, expressed concern foreign companies might be “disproportionately targeted” by regulators. The chamber said it had received reports of “intimidation tactics” by regulators who pressure foreign companies to accept punishments without a full hearing or involving their governments.

“Competition law should not be used as an administrative instrument to harm targeted companies or serve other aims, such as administratively forcing price reductions,” the chamber said.

On Monday, a Ministry of Commerce spokesman denied foreign companies were treated unfairly.

“Launching an investigation into monopoly-like behavior is a common practice internationally,” said the spokesman, Shen Danyang, according to the ministry website. “We are not just targeting foreign-funded companies.”


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August 16, 2014

Man seriously injured by runaway dumpster

Filed under: economics, news — Tags: , , , — DoctorBusiness @ 12:00 pm

A 51-year-old man suffered serious injuries after being struck by a dumpster in downtown Toronto Friday afternoon.

Toronto Fire said is appears the part-time maintenance worker was hit by a moving dumpster at an apartment building on Princess St. near Front and Sherbourne Sts.

Firefighters who work next door were first on scene and said they found the man at the bottom of a parking ramp around 1:40 p.m. They performed first aid on him until paramedics arrived and rushed him to hospital.

“A citizen came running over screaming that somebody needed help so we immediately grabbed a defibrillator and the first aid,” said Fire Capt. Bill Bygrave.

“We found the patient at the bottom of the parking lot beside a large garbage bin.”

Toronto EMS said the man was in critical condition and unconscious when they transported him to hospital.


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August 14, 2014

Senior Rob Ford campaign official says anti-Ford protesters are communists

Filed under: Europe, management — Tags: , , , — DoctorBusiness @ 9:04 pm

A senior member of Rob Ford’s campaign team says two of the participants in an anti-Ford sit-in outside the mayor’s office are communists.

One of the protesters, John Young, is a doctor. The other, sit-in organizer Chris Caple, is a website designer.

On Twitter, Caple pointedly asked Ford’s press secretary, Amin Massoudi, if he could “let the public know” how Ford had spent his workday after a 9 a.m. campaign press conference. Young then asked how “people like” Massoudi can “just ignore this kind of criticism.”

“How do they live with themselves?” Young said.

Graeme McEachern, the director of Ford’s campaign headquarters and deputy director of field operations, then chimed in.

“We don’t ignore the people, we ignore full-time communist activists like both of you. Have a nice day,” McEachern wrote.

There is no indication that either man is anything close to a communist, but McEachern emphatically stood by his accusation when asked about them by a reporter.

“Chris and John? Their statements and tweets over months lead me to this conclusion,” he wrote in a Twitter message. “Go back for eight months and read everything.”

“Plus they are nasty protesters that personally attack the mayor’s staff with vile venom online for months and I felt like rattling their chain,” he wrote.

He added: “To be clear, communist is about the worst insult I can give faxless payday loans. I feel that they deserve it for their increasingly insulting manners.”

The “Rob Ford Must Go” protesters have sat outside Ford’s office for 184 consecutive days. McEachern worked in the office before he joined the campaign. He was initially friendly to the protesters, Caple said, but then turned “completely hostile.”

“‘Communist’ just appears to be a generic go-to insult in his mind. Along with ‘activist.’ So ‘full-time communist activist’ is like one of the worst things he can imagine calling somebody, apparently,” Caple said. “Just more Ford-style mindless divisiveness and othering and attempts to deflect and avoid self-awareness.”

Ford, a populist conservative, has himself invoked communism to disparage his opponents. In 2012, he called five centrist and left-leaning councillors “two steps left of Joe Stalin.”

Young made his own historical reference when asked about McEachern’s claim.

“I can say that I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of the Communist Party,” he said. “I’m pretty liberal-minded, though.”

He added that he is too self-centred to be a communist.


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August 13, 2014

US stocks fall as geopolitical risks remain

Filed under: Gold, Loans — Tags: , , , — DoctorBusiness @ 4:16 am

NEW YORK (AP) — The U.S. stock market eased in afternoon trading Tuesday following two days of gains. Investors focused on problems in Ukraine and Iraq and the damage those problems are starting to have on the broader, global economy. Energy stocks were among the biggest decliners, dragged down by lower oil prices.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average slipped 27 points, or 0.2 percent, to 16,543 as of 2:45 p.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell six points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,931 and the Nasdaq composite fell 23 points, or 0.5 percent, to 4,378.

GEOPOLITICAL TENSIONS: Fears of a Russian invasion of Ukraine have faded in recent days, but worries about conflicts around the globe are likely to keep investors on edge in the coming weeks.

A convoy of more than 260 Russian trucks, reportedly packed with supplies, moved toward Russian’s border with Ukraine on Tuesday, but Kiev said the goods would only be allowed to cross if they were inspected by the International Red Cross. Ukraine is fearful that Russia could use the move as a cover for sending troops into the separatist-held territory.

Investors are also watching political machinations and violence unfold in oil-rich Iraq. On Tuesday, that nation’s embattled prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, tried to stay in power as Iraqi politicians and the international community rallied behind a political competitor.

GERMAN WORRIES: An indicator of German investor confidence dropped to its lowest level in 20 months for August, as investors worried that the Ukraine crisis will start dragging down the German economy, Europe’s largest. The euro drifted lower after the survey, falling to $1.3367.

Europe is much more exposed to Russia than the U.S., and Europe gets most of its natural gas from Russia.

“The Ukraine-Russia situation may be at a standstill politically, but it is weighing on the German economy and more broadly, the eurozone,” said Sean Lynch, a managing director at Wells Fargo Private Bank.

RISK OFF: There are signs investors are taking less-risky positions as geopolitical tensions mount around the world. The Russell 2000 index, which is made up primarily of smaller technology and healthcare companies, was down 1 percent, much more than the rest of the market. Investors bid up utilities and telecom stocks, which are typically considered the safest bets in the stock market due to their higher-than-normal dividends.

OIL LEAK: Energy stocks fell. The S&P 500 energy index lost nearly 1 percent. Kinder Morgan declined 2 percent after rising 9 percent the day before. Anadarko Petroleum and Pioneer Natural Resources fell more than 2 percent. Chevron and Exxon Mobil were among the worst performers in the Dow.

Energy stocks have declined noticeably in the last month, due largely to falling oil and natural gas prices. Brent crude, which is traded in the U.K. and is considered a broader gauge of the international oil market, is trading at a nine-month low. U.S. crude is trading at a seven-month low.

The price of U.S. crude oil slipped 71 cents to $97.37 a barrel Tuesday. That followed three days of increases over concerns about the reliability of Iraqi oil production.

OUT OF FASHION: Kate Spade plunged $10.20, or 26 percent, to $28.64 after executives for the handbag company warned that sales growth would slow this year. The comments came after Kate Spade reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit, which drove the stock up more than 10 percent earlier.

BONDS, COMMODITIES: The yield on the 10-year Treasury note was 2.43 percent, unchanged from the prior day. In metals trading, gold rose 10 cents to $1,310.60 an ounce, silver fell 19 cents to $19.51 an ounce and copper fell two cents to $3.15 a pound.


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August 11, 2014

Rajan Urges Cash Transfers to Dilute Power of Indian Oligarchs - Bloomberg

Filed under: Business, Gold — Tags: , , , — DoctorBusiness @ 3:12 pm

Indian central bank Governor Raghuram Rajan urged the government to directly transfer cash to the poor instead of offering public services, saying the money would liberate millions from corrupt middlemen and politicians.

Cash would empower the poor to choose where to buy goods, providing an alternative to government-run monopolies and creating competition in the private sector, Rajan said in a speech in Mumbai yesterday. Prime Minister Narendra Modi

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August 10, 2014

Hagel: US, India must improve defense cooperation

Filed under: legal, marketing — Tags: , , , — DoctorBusiness @ 2:08 am

NEW DELHI (AP) — The United States and India must seize opportunities to collaborate more on defense development and not let government red tape and other problems stymie progress between the two nations, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Saturday.

Capping two days of meetings here, Hagel’s speech to New Delhi business leaders and scholars reflected the hopes and frustrations of America’s struggles to forge weapons development agreements with India.

Hagel leaves India with few concrete agreements, acknowledging the two countries — the world’s oldest democracy and the world’s largest — must be “results oriented” and do more to “transform our nations’ defense cooperation from simply buying and selling to co-production, co-development, and freer exchange of technology.”

In meetings with top Indian government leaders he pressed for broader coordination in new weapons production, including a pilot plan for the two nations to jointly develop a next-generation anti-tank missile. The U.S. is hoping to partner with India as it modernizes its military, but Indian leaders are more interested in co-development opportunities than in simply buying American-made weapons.

“For both our nations, the challenge is to seize the opportunities before us,” Hagel said in remarks prepared for delivery to the Observer Research Foundation, a New Delhi think tank. “Bureaucratic red tape — within either of our governments — must not bound the limits of our partnership and initiatives.”

Hagel said the new initiative includes more than a dozen proposals that would transfer technology and production expertise to India flexcheck cash advance. They included a plan for the U.S. and India to co-produce and co-develop, the next upgrade of the Javelin anti-tank missile which would be cheaper, lighter and more capable.

Accompanying Hagel on the visit has been Frank Kendall, the defense undersecretary for acquisition who is leading the new initiative.

The development initiative is part of a broader U.S. effort to improve what has often been a rocky relationship with India, which is seen as a key ally in Asia, in part as a possible countermeasure to China.

In his speech, Hagel acknowledged tensions over China, saying the U.S. and India must continue to work together on regional issues while avoiding “traps of rivalry.”

India, he said, “need not choose between closer partnership with America and improved ties with China.” But he also urged India to increase its security cooperation with Japan and the U.S. so the three nations can increase their defense cooperation.

National security crises, however, have intruded on Hagel’s three days here, forcing him to back out of an official dinner Friday night in order to huddle with senior U.S. leaders and military commanders about the airstrikes and humanitarian supply drops in Iraq.

India is Hagel’s second stop on an around-the-world trip. He will travel next to Australia.


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August 8, 2014

US stocks are mixed in early trading

Filed under: management, news — Tags: , , , — DoctorBusiness @ 11:12 am

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are mixed in early trading Friday as investors weighed productivity gains against escalating geopolitical troubles. U.S. fighters dropped bombs on Islamic militants in Iraq a day after President Barack Obama authorized airstrikes to protect U.S. civilians there and Iraqi refugees.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index was flat at 1,909 as of 10:29 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial was up a point at 16,370. The Nasdaq composite fell six points, or 0.1 percent, to 4,328.

PRODUCTIVITY GAIN: U.S. workers were more productive in the April-June quarter and labor costs rose slightly, a sharp turnaround from grim first-quarter figures. The Labor Department said Friday that that productivity increased 2.5 percent at a seasonally adjusted annual rate, after plummeting 4.5 percent in the first quarter.

GEOPOLITICAL JITTERS: Two F/A-18 fighters flying off the aircraft carrier USS George HW Bush in the Persian Gulf dropped two laser-guided 500-pound bombs on an Islamic State artillery piece and the truck towing it, according to a military spokesman. The move follows President Obama’s authorization on Thursday of airdrops of humanitarian aid and airstrikes to counter advancing Sunni radical militants.

Investors are also keeping an eye on Ukraine and Gaza, where a three-day cease-fire came to an end. In addition, the World Health Organization on Friday declared the Ebola outbreak in West Africa to be an international public health emergency that requires an extraordinary response to stop its spread.

EUROPEAN STOCKS: Germany’s DAX was down 0.5 percent while the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares fell 0.6 percent. France’s CAC-40 was flat.

All those indexes look set to close down for the week. The three major U.S. indexes are also set to post weekly losses.

THE QUOTE: “A red end to another red week looks firmly entrenched for equities,” said Will Hedden, premium client manager at IG. “The weekend will feel like a long time for potential bad news to fester after many geopolitical events have come to a head all at the same time.”

JAPAN TUMBLE: In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 slid 3 percent to 14,778 as the yen strengthened. Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea’s Kospi lost 1.1 percent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng shed 0.2 percent and the Shanghai Composite Index climbed 0.3 percent to 2,194.42.

COMMODITIES AND BONDS: Crude oil rose 73 cents to $98.07 a barrel. Gold rose 0.5 percent at $1,318 an ounce. Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.37 percent from 2.41 percent late Thursday.


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August 6, 2014

U.S. Treasury Keeps Size of Two-, Three-Year Note Auctions - Bloomberg

Filed under: Business, Homes — Tags: , , , — DoctorBusiness @ 8:16 pm

The U.S. Treasury Department said it will maintain the size of its two-year and three-year note auctions and also keep the amount of longer-term bond issuance unchanged from the previous quarter.

The Treasury will auction $27 billion in three-year notes on Aug. 12, $24 billion in 10-year notes on Aug. 13, and $16 billion in 30-year bonds on Aug. 14, the department said in its quarterly refunding statement released today.

Next week

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August 5, 2014

Media company Gannett to split newspapers off from broadcasting, digital businesses

Filed under: money, term — Tags: , , , — DoctorBusiness @ 5:20 am

McLEAN, Va. • Gannett is spinning off its publishing business from its broadcasting and digital operations. The company is also acquiring full ownership of Cars.com for $1.8 billion.

It follows the Tribune Co., Time Warner Inc. and News Corp. in breaking off print media from its rapidly expanding broadcast operations.

Gannett Co. said Tuesday that the publishing business will basically be debt free once spun off, with the broadcasting and digital businesses holding the existing debt.

The publishing business will keep the Gannett name, while the broadcasting and digital company has yet to be named fast cash now. Both companies will remain headquartered in McLean, Virginia.

Gannett is buying the 73 percent interest in Classified Ventures LLC, owner of Cars.com that it doesn’t already own. The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter.


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