Business Highlights

0

___

Super Bowl ads show signs of maturity

NEW YORK (AP) — Forget slapstick humour, corny gimmicks and skimpy bikinis. This year’s Super Bowl ads promise something surprising: Maturity.

There won’t be any close-up tongue kisses in Godaddy’s ad. Nor will there be half-naked women running around in the Axe body spray spot. And Gangnam Style dancing will be missing from the Wonderful Pistachios commercial.

In their place? Fully clothed women, well-known celebs and more product information.

___

Fed to reduce pace of bond buying by another $10 billion

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve is pushing ahead with a plan to shrink its bond-buying program because of a strengthening U.S. economy. It’s doing so even though the prospect of reduced Fed stimulus and higher U.S. interest rates has rattled global markets.

The Fed said it will cut its monthly bond purchases starting in February by $10 billion to $65 billion. It also reaffirmed its plan to keep short-term rates at record lows to try to reassure investors that it will keep supporting an economy that remains less than fully healthy.

The decision by the Fed was announced in a statement Wednesday after Ben Bernanke’s final policy meeting. Bernanke will step down Friday after eight years as chairman and will be succeeded by Vice Chair Janet Yellen.

___

Facebook 4Q results soar as mobile revenue grows

NEW YORK (AP) — Mobile advertising accounted for more than half of Facebook’s total ad revenue in the final quarter of last year, a sign that the social network born a decade ago in the desktop computer era is succeeding in its goal of being “mobile first.”

Facebook’s earnings and revenue handily surpassed Wall Street’s expectations for the third quarter in a row as it further expands the number of users and the amount of money it makes on mobile ads.

Facebook Inc. said Wednesday that it earned $523 million, or 20 cents per share, in the October-December quarter. That’s up from $64 million, or 3 cents per share, a year earlier. Adjusted earnings were $780 million, or 31 cents per share, in the latest quarter, 4 cents ahead of analysts’ estimates.

___

Google selling Motorola phone business to Lenovo

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Google is selling Motorola’s smartphone business to Lenovo for $2.9 billion, a price that makes Google’s biggest acquisition look like its most expensive mistake.

The deal announced Wednesday will rid Google Inc. of a financial headache that has plagued the Internet company since buying Motorola Mobility for $12.4 billion in 2012. Motorola has lost nearly $2 billion since Google took over, while trimming its workforce from 20,000 to 3,800.

Google had previously recovered some of the money that it spent on the Motorola by selling the company’s set-top operations last year to Arris Group Inc. for $2.35 billion.

While Google is backpedaling, China’s Lenovo Group Ltd. is gearing up for a major expansion. Already the world’s largest maker of personal computers, Lenovo now appears determined to become a bigger player in smartphones as more people rely on them instead of laptop and desktop computers to go online.

___

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to be company’s new name

DETROIT (AP) — Chrysler and Fiat will be known as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV as they move forward as a single company.

Fiat’s board of directors agreed on the new name Wednesday, with headquarters for tax purposes in the United Kingdom. But the board sidestepped the thorny political issue of whether the true headquarters would be in the United States or Italy.

Fiat and Chrysler also announced fourth-quarter results. Chrysler’s strong profits once again propped up its parent company, which otherwise would have lost money.

___

Starbucks CEO to focus on mobile, digital efforts

NEW YORK (AP) — Starbucks says CEO Howard Schultz will spend more time focusing on mobile payments, loyalty cards and other digital projects of increasing importance for the coffee chain.

The announcement comes after the Seattle-based company recently noted that it saw a “seismic” shift to online shopping during this past holiday season. Executives say that hurt the company’s performance because there were fewer people milling about at malls, meaning fewer opportunities for people to stop in at its cafes.

Schultz has shot down the notion that the migration to online shopping will hurt Starbucks over the long term, however. He says Starbucks is using its mobile payment apps, its loyalty program and gift cards to deepen relationships with customers and get them to visit more often.

___

Thai firms feel squeeze from crisis, seek solution

BANGKOK (AP) — Hotel occupancy rates in central Bangkok have plunged. Conventions have been cancelled. Business deals have been postponed. Tourist bookings for coming months are way down.

The latest spasm in Thailand’s near decade of political upheaval is taking an economic toll as anti-government protesters barricade Bangkok’s major intersections and confrontations between protesters and supporters of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra periodically flare into deadly clashes.

Since a 2006 coup ousted Yingluck’s brother Thaksin Shinawatra as prime minister, Thailand’s economy has bounced back from several episodes of violent political conflict. However, the underlying failure to resolve deep divisions in Thai society has diminished its reputation as a reliable country for foreign business and raised the prospect of increasing instability.

___

Propane shortages prompting state officials to act

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Supply problems in several states where propane is a crucial heating source have prompted governors and other officials to take action against vendors, investigate claims of price gouging and increase aid to low-income customers.

The propane drain coincides with extreme cold temperatures in several Midwestern and Southern states where residents and business owners are struggling to keep heating tanks filled due to increased costs or supply cut-offs.

National supplies of propane were depleted by a late harvest that increased demand from farmers who needed to dry an unusually large amount of grain before storage. As colder-than-normal temperatures spread across much of the country, supplies dropped to the lowest level ever during the second week of January.

___

Boeing outlook sinks stock despite solid 4Q profit

Boeing is building airplanes faster, but Wall Street wants it to build profits faster, too.

Boeing Co. shares slid Wednesday after it said this year’s profit and revenue would grow less than analysts had been expecting.

There are a number of reasons. Boeing’s defence business is slowing down as governments dial back spending. Some planes slated for delivery in early 2014 were instead delivered late last year — that helped boost Boeing’s fourth-quarter profit, but will take away from this year’s results. And deliveries of its new 787 are a mixed bag, financially. They bring in cash, but hurt profit margins as Boeing accounts for the money it spent developing the plane.

___

Nintendo profit falls on sluggish Wii U sales

TOKYO (AP) — Profit at Nintendo Co. fell 30 per cent in the first nine months of the fiscal year as sales of Wii U home consoles, 3DS devices and game software languished. Top executives announced they would take pay cuts.

The Japanese maker of Super Mario and Pokemon video games reported Wednesday a 10.2 billion yen ($99 million) profit from April to December, down from 14.55 billion yen a year earlier. It did not break down quarterly numbers.

Nintendo’s president, senior managing director, managing director and directors said they will take pay cuts for five months starting in February to take responsibility for the poor performance.

___

By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 189.77 points, or 1.2 per cent, to 15,738.79. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 18.30 points, or 1 per cent, to 1,774.20. The Nasdaq composite dropped 46.53 points, or 1.1 per cent, to 4,051.43.

Benchmark U.S. crude for March delivery slipped 5 cents to close at $97.36 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to set prices for international varieties of crude, rose 44 cents at $107.85 on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

Wholesale gasoline gained 3 cents to $2.66 a gallon. Heating oil advanced 6 cents to $3.18 a gallon. Natural gas futures rose 52 cents, or 10 per cent, to $5.56 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *