Business Highlights


JPMorgan’s Dimon survives shareholder referendum

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Jamie Dimon, the CEO and chairman of JPMorgan Chase, easily survived a vote Tuesday that would have called on him to give up his role as chairman of the nation’s largest bank. But shareholders sent a message that the bank needed better oversight, giving only narrow approval to three of the bank’s board members.

It was a mixed verdict in a closely watched test of corporate governance at U.S. companies. Dimon emerged in a stronger position after the proposal to split his roles won just 32 per cent of the shareholder vote, less than the 40 per cent a similar proposal got last year.

But the tepid support for the three directors came as a rebuke of the bank following a surprise $6 billion trading loss JPMorgan had suffered last year. Prominent shareholder advisory firms had urged JPMorgan shareholders to withhold their support for those directors, who served on the bank’s risk policy committee at the time of the loss.


Apple’s Cook faces Senate questions on taxes

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate dragged Apple Inc., the world’s most valuable company, into the debate over the U.S. tax code Tuesday, grilling CEO Tim Cook over allegations that its Irish subsidiaries help the company avoid billions in U.S. taxes.

Cook said the subsidiaries have nothing to do with reducing its U.S. taxes, a message he struggled to convey to the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.

The senate subcommittee released a report Monday that held up Apple as an example of the legal tax avoidance made possible by the U.S. tax code. It estimates that Apple avoided at least $3.5 billion in U.S. federal taxes in 2011 and $9 billion in 2012 by using its tax strategy, and described a complex setup involving Irish subsidiaries as being a key element of this strategy.


Microsoft touts Xbox One as all-in-1 entertainment

REDMOND, Wash. (AP) — Microsoft thinks it has the one.

The company unveiled the Xbox One, an entertainment console that promises to be the one system households will need for games, television, movies and other entertainment. It will go on sale later this year, for an undisclosed price.

For the past two years, Microsoft has led the gaming industry in console sales with the Xbox 360. But it’s been eight years since that machine came out, and Microsoft is the last of the three major console makers to unveil a new system.


Does France have right plan to revive its economy?

PARIS (AP) — The man charged with reviving France’s shrinking economy and attracting businesses to invest is gaining a reputation for doing the opposite.

As the country’s first-ever minister for industrial renewal, Arnaud Montebourg has told the world’s largest steelmaker it is not welcome in France; exchanged angry letters with the head of an American tire company he was supposedly wooing; and scuttled Yahoo’s offer to buy the majority of a video-sharing website.

Montebourg, a 50-year-old lawyer from Burgundy, is the public face of President Francois Hollande’s plan to revitalize Europe’s second-largest economy, which is in recession and grappling with 11 per cent unemployment. The plan is to make the French economy more competitive globally — especially for manufacturers — by making it easier to fire workers, offering a payroll tax credit and investing in small businesses.

Economists have praised the labour reforms as a step in the right direction. But mostly they say France’s economic plan is all wrong: It is too complicated; it favours a top-down approach to innovation; and it ignores some of the most serious problems plaguing France’s economy, such as high labour costs.


With high-tech guns, users could disable remotely

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — A high-tech startup is wading into the gun control debate with a wireless controller that would allow gun owners to know when their weapon is being moved — and disable it remotely.

The technology, but not an actual gun, was demonstrated Tuesday at a wireless technology conference in Las Vegas and was shown to The Associated Press in advance. It comes at a time when lawmakers around the U.S. are considering contentious smart gun laws that would require new guns to include high-tech devices that limit who can fire them.

The new Yardarm Technologies LLC system would trigger an alarm on an owner’s cellphone if a gun is moved, and the owner could then hit a button to activate the safety and disable the weapon. New guns would come with a microchip on the body and antennas winding around the grip. It would add about $50 to the cost of a gun, and about $12 a year for the service.


Lew: IRS actions “unacceptable and inexcusable”

WASHINGTON (AP) — Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew says the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative political groups was “unacceptable and inexcusable” and he has directed the agency’s acting director to hold people accountable.

Lew told the Senate Banking Committee that he has also asked acting director Daniel Werfel to fix any flaws in management of the IRS to make sure there is no recurrence of the problems.

An inspector general’s report released May 15 found that IRS employees had inappropriately targeted conservative political groups.


Senate votes to make small cut to food stamps

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate has voted to keep a $400 million annual cut — or roughly a half of 1 per cent — to the food stamp program in a farm bill it is considering this week.

Food stamps now cost almost $80 billion annually. The chamber rejected by a 58-40 vote an amendment by Republican Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas to expand the cuts to $3.5 billion a year. Senators also rejected, 70-26, an amendment by Democratic Sen. Kristen Gillibrand of New York to eliminate the cuts entirely.

The domestic food aid, now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, makes up almost 80 per cent of the five-year farm bill, which would cost $100 billion annually. A House version of the farm bill would cut $2 billion a year from the program, which has doubled in cost since 2008.


Housing recovery boosts Home Depot 1Q results

ATLANTA (AP) — Even though the weather was poor, Home Depot posted an 18 per cent increase in its net income for the first quarter thanks to the ongoing housing recovery.

Its quarterly results topped Wall Street’s view and the world’s biggest home improvement chain boosted its full-year earnings and revenue forecasts Tuesday.

For the three months ended May 5, Home Depot Inc. earned $1.23 billion, or 83 cents per share. That’s up from $1.04 billion, or 68 cents per share, a year earlier. Analysts predicted earnings of 76 cents per share, according to a FactSet survey.


Best Buy reports 1Q loss on restructuring costs

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Best Buy Co. on Tuesday reported a loss for its fiscal first quarter as it sold its stake in Best Buy Europe and works on a turnaround plan that includes cutting costs and closing some stores.

Its adjusted earnings beat Wall Street expectations, as cost cuts helped offset tough pricing competition during the quarter. But shares fell 5 per cent in midday trading.

The company has been working on a turnaround plan as it faces increased competition from online retailers and discount stores. The plan includes closing stores, cutting costs and investing in training for its employees. In April it also said it would sell its 50 per cent stake in its European joint venture to streamline its business and strengthen its balance sheet.


Poll: Teens migrating to Twitter

WASHINGTON (AP) — Twitter is booming as a social media destination for teenagers who complain about too many adults and too much drama on Facebook, according to a new study published Tuesday about online behaviour. It said teens are sharing more personal information about themselves even as they try to protect their online reputations.

Teens told researchers there were too many adults on Facebook and too much sharing of teenage angst and inane details like what a friend ate for dinner.

In the poll, 94 per cent of teens who are social media users have a profile on Facebook — flat from the previous year. Twenty-six per cent of teen social media users were on Twitter. That’s more than double the figure in 2011 of 12 per cent.


By The Associated Press(equals)

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 52.30 points to 15,387.58, a gain of 0.3 per cent. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index edged up 2.87 points to 1,669.16, a slight increase of 0.2 per cent. The Nasdaq composite rose 5.69 points to 3,502.12, a 0.2 per cent gain.

Benchmark crude for June delivery dropped 55 cents to $96.16 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, a benchmark for many international oil varieties, fell 89 cents to $103.91 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

Wholesale gasoline fell 6 cents to $2.85 a gallon. Heating oil lost 2 cents to $2.93 a gallon. Natural gas added 10 cents to $4.19 per 1,000 cubic feet.