Business Highlights



China’s Alibaba Group aiming to raise $1B in IPO

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — China’s Alibaba Group is aiming to raise $1 billion in a long-awaited IPO. Tuesday’s filing sets the stage for the technology industry’s biggest initial public offering since short messaging service Twitter.

For now, Alibaba isn’t specifying how much stock will be sold in the IPO or setting a price range. Those details will emerge as the IPO progresses, a process likely to take three to four months to complete before Alibaba’s shares begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Alibaba has emerged as an e-commerce powerhouse that makes more money than Inc. and eBay Inc. combined.


Slowing Chinese economy likely to pinch US, too

WASHINGTON (AP) — After watching China narrow the U.S. lead as the world’s largest economy, Americans might be tempted to cheer signs that the Chinese economy might be stumbling. But that would be short-sighted.

In an interconnected global economy, bad news for one economic superpower is typically bad news for another — even a fierce rival.

An economist at Moody’s Analytics estimates that each 1 percentage point drop in China’s economic growth causes as much damage to the U.S. economy as a $20-a-barrel increase in oil prices: It shaves 0.2 percentage point off annual U.S. growth. A sharp slowdown in China also threatens the 28-member European Union, which outweighs even the United States if measured as a single economy.


Federal report: Warming disrupts Americans’ lives

WASHINGTON (AP) — Global warming is rapidly turning America the beautiful into America the stormy, sneezy and dangerous, according to a new federal scientific report. And those shining seas? Rising and costly.

Climate change’s assorted harms “are expected to become increasingly disruptive across the nation throughout this century and beyond,” the National Climate Assessment concluded Tuesday. The report emphasizes that warming and all-too-wild weather are changing daily lives.

Still, it’s not too late to prevent the worst of climate change, says the 840-page report, which the White House is highlighting as it tries to jump-start often-stalled efforts to curb heat-trapping gases. The Obama administration plans to propose new and controversial regulations this summer that would restrict gases that come from existing coal-fired power plants.


Bayer to buy Merck consumer business for $14.2B

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Germany’s Bayer plans to buy U.S.-based Merck & Co.’s consumer health business, creating a combined medicine cabinet of household names from Bayer’s aspirin to Merck’s Claritin allergy pills.

The $14.2 billion deal announced Tuesday would vault Bayer AG atop the nonprescription medicine business across North and Latin America. It would make Bayer No. 1 worldwide in skin and gastrointestinal products, a strong No. 2 in the huge cold and allergy category, and No. 3 in pain relievers.


US trade deficit drops 3.6 per cent in March

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. trade deficit narrowed in March as exports rebounded to the second highest level on record, led by strong gains in sales of aircraft, autos and farm goods.

The deficit declined to $40.4 billion, down 3.6 per cent from a revised February imbalance of $41.9 billion, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday. The February deficit had been the biggest trade gap in five months. A smaller trade deficit can boost growth because it means U.S. companies are earning more on their overseas sales.


Weaker sales slowed US home price gains in March

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. home prices rose at a slightly slower pace in the 12 months that ended in March, a sign that weak sales have begun to restrain the housing market’s sharp price gains.

Data provider CoreLogic says prices rose 11.1 per cent in March compared with March 2013. Though a sizable increase, that was down a bit from February’s 12.2 per cent year-over-year increase.

Home sales and construction have faltered since last fall, slowing the economy. A harsh winter, higher buying costs and a limited supply of available homes have discouraged many potential buyers. Existing-home sales in March reached their lowest level in 20 months.


GM recalls about 60,000 Saturns to fix gear shifts

DETROIT (AP) — General Motors is recalling nearly 60,000 Saturn Aura cars because the automatic transmission shift levers can show the wrong gear.

The problem, caused by failure of the transmission shift cable, has led to 28 crashes and four injuries but no deaths during the past seven years, GM said Tuesday. The Auras can roll away unexpectedly because the driver may think the car is in “Park” when it’s in another gear.

In 2011, GM covered the cars with an extended 10-year, 120,000-mile warranty because of the problem. But drivers had to experience trouble with their shifters for the coverage to kick in. At that time, GM thought the extended warranty was sufficient to handle the problem.


Office Depot plans to close at least 400 US stores

BOCA RATON, Fla. (AP) — Office Depot is planning to close at least 400 U.S. stores, as its merger with OfficeMax resulted in an overlap of retail locations that can be consolidated.

The combined company’s financial results beat Wall Street estimates for the January-March quarter and it raised its full year forecast for operating income on Tuesday.

Its shares jumped 17 per cent in morning trading.

The office supply retailer had 1,900 stores in the U.S. at the end of the first quarter, so the plans call for closing about 21 per cent of them. Office Depot and OfficeMax Inc. completed their $1.2 billion deal last November.


Disney 2Q earnings beat Street, helped by ‘Frozen’

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Disney posted second-quarter earnings that beat Wall Street forecasts, helped by the blockbuster success of movies like “Frozen” and “Thor: The Dark World.”

Net income in the three months through March jumped 27 per cent to $1.92 billion, or $1.08 per share, from $1.51 billion, or 83 cents per share, in the same period a year ago. Excluding charges for foreign exchange losses and restructuring, adjusted earnings came to $1.11 per share, beating the 96 cents expected by analysts polled by FactSet.

Revenue grew 10 per cent to $11.65 billion, trumping the $11.25 billion analysts expected.


New Zealand offers cash for move to quake city

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Unemployed New Zealanders are being offered cash by the government to move to the earthquake-damaged city of Christchurch and join in the rebuilding effort.

The government announced Tuesday it would pay welfare recipients 3,000 New Zealand dollars ($2,600) to move to the city if they found any kind of fulltime work there.

Christchurch has been slowly rebuilding after a 2011 quake killed 185 people and destroyed much of the city’s downtown.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett said the city’s reconstruction is creating thousands of jobs but some unemployed people don’t have the resources to move to Christchurch. She said the money will help pay for moving expenses, accommodation, tools and other equipment.


By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 129.53 points, or 0.8 per cent, to close at 16,401.02. The Nasdaq composite dropped 57.30 points, or 1.4 per cent, to 4,080.76. The S&P 500 dropped 16.94 points, or 0.9 per cent, to 1,867.72.

Benchmark U.S. crude for June delivery rose 2 cents to close at $99.50 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Wholesale gasoline dropped 2 cents to $2.89 a gallon. Heating oil also fell 2 cents to $2.89 a gallon. Natural gas rose 11 cents to $4.80 per 1,000 cubic feet. Brent crude, a benchmark for international varieties of oil, fell 66 cents to $107.06 on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

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