Business Highlights


Greek government offers sweeping proposal to creditors

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece finally met a deadline that counted on Thursday and made a series of sweeping proposals that its creditors needed by midnight to set off a mad rush toward a weekend deal to stave off a financial collapse of the nation.

The package met longstanding demands by creditors to impose wide-ranging sales-tax hikes and cuts in state spending for pensions that the left-leaning Greek government had long resisted.

It raised hopes that Greece can get the rescue deal that will prevent a catastrophic exit from the euro after key creditors said they were open to discussing how to ease the country’s debt load, a long-time sticking point in their talks.


A dramatic trading shutdown with little impact on 401(k)s

NEW YORK (AP) — You can read all about it on social media and newspapers, but you won’t find a trace of it where it really matters: Your next 401(k) statement.

In a dramatic breakdown that once would have sent the market plunging, the world’s most iconic stock exchange, the NYSE, was forced to stop trading for nearly four hours Wednesday. Regulators put out statements. Twitter lit up with conspiracy theories. The president of the United States was briefed.

As for stocks, though, there was barely a ripple. One reason is that trading in stocks didn’t stop at all. It just shifted from the New York Stock Exchange to other exchanges and trading venues.


Chinese stocks vs. reality: Shares are untethered to economy

WASHINGTON (AP) — There’s economic reality. Then there’s the Chinese stock market. The two usually occupy parallel universes.

When China’s economy was roaring along at double digit rates in the 2000s, Chinese stocks floundered. But starting in the summer of 2014, as evidence of an economic slowdown gathered, the Shanghai Composite index climbed nearly 150 per cent.

Now the Chinese stock bubble has burst and Shanghai shares are in a free fall. They’ve lost about 30 per cent since peaking last month. But economists don’t expect the market meltdown to do much damage to the real economy.


2 visions emerge for getting self-driving cars on road

Two competing visions could determine how you first experience a driverless car.

Traditional automakers like Mercedes and Toyota already make vehicles equipped with systems that keep cars within their lanes, apply the brakes or park by themselves. Their plan is to gradually automate more functions of driving until, perhaps by 2025, some cars will be fully capable of driving themselves.

But Google, Alibaba, Baidu and other tech companies are aggressively working on their own self-driving vehicles, and could leapfrog the car industry in bringing them to market. Google, for instance, promises to deliver a self-driving car in five years.


Rent hikes force small businesses to move, revamp

NEW YORK (AP) — As neighbourhoods across the country transform from shabby to trendy, rising rents have forced independent retailers and other small businesses to move and in some cases remake their businesses to fit their new locales.

Once they get settled in, owners are left with the concern that the whole cycle could happen all over again if their new neighbourhood gentrifies, too.


IMF downgrades 2015 outlook for global growth to 3.3 per cent

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. economy’s stumble at the start of 2015 is dragging down the world’s growth to the lowest level since the Great Recession, the International Monetary Fund said Thursday.

The IMF forecasts 3.3 per cent global growth this year, down from the 3.5 per cent it predicted in April. That would be slowest pace of global growth since the world economy shrank slightly in the recession year 2009.

The main culprit: The American economy, world’s biggest, shrank at a 0.2 per cent annual rate from January to March, hurt by nasty weather.


Applications for US jobless benefits rose again last week

WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of people seeking unemployment benefits rose last week to the highest level since late February. But the increase likely reflected temporary auto plant shutdowns rather than any underlying labour market weakness.

The number of people filing applications for unemployment benefits rose by 15,000 to 297,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday. That is the highest weekly total since 327,000 applications were filed in the week of Feb. 28.


Walgreens Boots makes Pessina permanent CEO

Walgreens Boots Alliance has named Stefano Pessina CEO, making permanent a role the veteran executive has filled since he helped create a drugstore behemoth that may not be done growing.

The 73-year-old Monaco resident led European health and beauty retailer Alliance Boots as executive chairman before engineering a combination with Walgreen Co., which runs the largest drugstore chain in the United States.


PepsiCo tops expectations, boosted by pricier products

PURCHASE, N.Y. (AP) — PepsiCo is using pricier products to help drive up sales.

The snack and beverage maker said Thursday that revenue rose for each of its Frito-Lay North America and PepsiCo Americas Beverages units during the second quarter, despite flat volume.

That doesn’t necessarily mean the company simply raised prices on bags of Lay’s chips and cans of Diet Pepsi. It could be that newer products are positioned as more premium products and cost more, such as its Mountain Dew Dewshine that comes in a glass bottle.


Shark Week has turned into a feeding frenzy of cutesy products, but some actually do good

NEW YORK (AP) — Shark Week, which launched into its 28th year on Discovery Channel on Sunday, has taken on a more serious tone this year, considering a spate of bites off summer beaches.

But that hasn’t put a damper on product frenzy, including some that sets proceeds aside for shark education and ocean conservation.


Review: Microsoft Office in a world of multiple devices

NEW YORK (AP) — Microsoft’s new Office apps do a good job of helping us navigate a world in which we frequently switch from one device to another — from a Mac to a Windows PC, with a smartphone or tablet along the way.

The company released Microsoft Office 2016 for Mac on Thursday and new apps for Android phones two weeks ago. New ones for Windows phones and tablets are coming this summer and for Windows PCs this fall. They join apps for iPads, iPhones and Android tablets.


Honda announces another recall for faulty Takata air bags

Honda has added 4.5 million vehicles in countries outside the U.S. to the growing list of cars and trucks recalled for Takata air bags that could explode with too much force and spew shrapnel at drivers and passengers.

The recall announced Thursday raises to 57.5 million the total number of Takata air bag inflators recalled worldwide. The figure includes 33.8 million inflators in the U.S. affecting 32 million vehicles from 11 automakers.


By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 33.20 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 17,548.62. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index climbed 4.63 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 2,051.31. The Nasdaq composite rose 12.64 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 4,922.40.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose $1.13 to close at $52.78 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, rose $1.56 to close at $58.61 in London. Wholesale gasoline rose 4.6 cents to close at $2.045 a gallon. Heating oil rose 2.1 cents to close at $1.736 a gallon. Natural gas rose 4.1 cents to close at $2.726 per 1,000 cubic feet.