Business Highlights


US employers add 175,000 jobs, unemployment rate up to 7.6 per cent

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. economy added 175,000 jobs in May— a steady pace that shows strength in the face of tax increases and government spending cuts, if not enough to reduce still-high unemployment.

The unemployment rate rose to 7.6 per cent from 7.5 per cent in April, the Labor Department said Friday. The rate rose because more people began looking for work, a healthy sign, but only about three-quarters of that group found jobs.

Analysts said the less-than-robust job growth would likely lead the Federal Reserve to maintain the pace of its monthly bond purchases for a few more months. The bond purchases are intended to ease long-term borrowing costs and lift stock prices.


Stocks jump after US jobs report beats forecasts

NEW YORK (AP) — Steady growth in hiring last month sent the stock market sharply higher Friday.

U.S. employers added 175,000 jobs in May, slightly more than the 170,000 forecast by economists, according to data provider FactSet. More people also began looking for work, another encouraging sign.

The report gave a boost to stock market bulls, who expect the Federal Reserve to keep up its stimulus program as the U.S. economy continues to recover moderately. That combination pushed the Dow Jones industrial average and the Standard & Poor’s 500 index to record highs last month. The S&P 500 and the Dow Jones industrial average both rose more than 1 per cent on Friday.


Is Big Data turning government into ‘Big Brother?’

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — With every phone call they make and every Web excursion they take, people are leaving a digital trail of revealing data that can be tracked by profit-seeking companies and terrorist-hunting government officials.

The revelations that the National Security Agency is perusing millions of U.S. customer phone records at Verizon Communications and snooping on the digital communications stored by nine major Internet services illustrate how aggressively personal data is being collected and analyzed.

Verizon is handing over so-called metadata, excerpts from millions of U.S. customer records, to the NSA under an order issued by the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, according to a report in the British newspaper The Guardian. The report was confirmed Thursday by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee.


Chinese taste for baccarat drives Macau boom

MACAU (AP) — In the nearly three dozen casinos in Macau, the world’s biggest gambling market, there’s only one game that matters: baccarat.

Almost all of Macau’s $38 billion in gambling revenue last year — six times more than the Las Vegas Strip — came from the card game, much of it from Chinese high-rollers betting borrowed money and dwarfing the takings from slots, blackjack or roulette. Wherever you go in the former Portuguese colony, you’ll see chain-smoking Chinese gamblers crowded around baccarat tables as players peel back their cards, hoping their luck will give them a good hand.

James Bond’s favourite game is overshadowed by blackjack and poker in Las Vegas but the preferences of wealthy Chinese gamblers is changing that, and casinos there have been adding more tables to attract them.


Wal-Mart plans $15 billion more in stock buybacks

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Wal-Mart’s biggest news at its annual meeting on Friday was that the world’s largest retailer will repurchase up to $15 billion of its shares at a time when the behemoth faces increased scrutiny from investors about its business overseas.

The buyback replaces the current $15 billion share repurchase program that Wal-Mart began in 2011. About $712 million is left under that program, according to the company.

The program comes as Wal-Mart encounters concerns over how it handled bribery allegations that surfaced last year at its Mexican unit. The company also is being pressured to increase its oversight of factories abroad following a building collapse in April in Bangladesh that killed more than 1,100 garment workers. Wal-Mart wasn’t using any of the factories in the building at the time of the collapse, but it is the second-largest retail buyer of clothing in Bangladesh.


Sporty new Corolla aimed at youthful buyers

DETROIT (AP) — Toyota is giving the Corolla a sportier look and more gadgets, an acknowledgement by the world’s biggest automaker that the under-50 crowd wants more than just reliability in a compact car.

The world’s largest automaker rolled out the 2014 version of America’s top-selling compact Thursday night at a splashy event in Santa Monica, Calif., hoping to shed the old version’s no-frills image and attract new, younger buyers.

The 2014 model, which goes on sale in September, is longer and sits lower, with an athletic look that’s much closer to a sports car than the econobox it replaces. It also gets a new transmission, suspension and interior that Toyota says will make the car quieter and more luxurious, with better handling than the current version. It’s the 11th generation of a car that Toyota has been selling worldwide since 1966.


US consumer borrowing up $11.1 billion in April

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans borrowed more in April to attend college and buy cars and spent a little more with their credit cards than in the previous month.

The Federal Reserve said Friday that consumer borrowing rose $11.1 billion in April from March to a seasonally adjusted $2.82 trillion. That’s the 20th straight monthly gain and another record level.

Nearly all of the gain came from a category that includes auto and student loans, which increased $10.4 billion to $1.97 trillion.


TiVo settles with Cisco, Motorola and Time Warner

NEW YORK (AP) — TiVo settled patent disputes with Cisco, Motorola Mobility and Time Warner Cable, averting a trial that was to begin next week and bringing to a close a string of long-running legal squabbles over its pioneering digital video recorder technology.

The terms fell well short of what most TiVo investors expected, however, and shares of TiVo plunged 19 per cent on Friday.

Under the agreement TiVo will get a lump-sum payment of $490 million from Google Inc. and Cisco Systems Inc. Cisco will be responsible for $294 million of that, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.


Obama, Xi to dispense with formalities at summit

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. (AP) — Dispensing with diplomatic formalities, President Barack Obama and Chinese leader Xi Jinping planned a casual “shirt-sleeves” summit at a sprawling California estate Friday, aiming for closer personal ties and progress on high-stakes issues including cybersecurity and North Korea’s nuclear threats.

However, Obama’s urging of Xi to stop reported Chinese hacking against the U.S. could be overshadowed by new revelations that Obama’s own administration has been secretly collecting information about phone and Internet use. The actions of both China and the U.S. underscore the vast technological powers that governments can tap to gather information covertly from individuals, companies and other governments.

Obama, seeking to keep the matter from trailing him through two days of China meetings, addressed the surveillance programs for the first time Friday morning. He said the efforts strike “the right balance” between security and civil liberties as the U.S. combats terrorism.


Was IRS targeting limited to Cincinnati office?

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congressional investigators are starting to see cracks in the Internal Revenue Service argument that a small group of agents in the Cincinnati office solely targeted conservative political groups.

Investigators, who are still in the early stages of their probe, have not uncovered any direct evidence that senior officials in Washington ordered the agents to target tea party groups, or why they may have done so.

But two agents in the IRS’s Cincinnati office say they believe their work was being closely monitored by higher-ups in Washington. One agent, Elizabeth Hofacre, complained to investigators that she was being micromanaged by Washington when she processed applications for tax-exempt status by tea party groups, according to a transcript of her interview with investigators.


By The Associated Press(equals)

The Dow Jones Industrial average rose 207.50 points, or 1.4 per cent, to close at 15,248.12. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 20.82 points, or 1.3 per cent, to 1,643.38. The Nasdaq composite rose 45.16 points, or 1.3 per cent, to 3,469.21.

Benchmark oil for July delivery gained $1.27, or 1.3 per cent, to finish at $96.03 a barrel. Brent crude, a benchmark for many international oil varieties, rose 95 cents to finish at $104.56 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

Wholesale gasoline rose 2 cents to end at $2.87 a gallon. Heating oil gained 2 cents to finish at $2.89 per gallon. Natural gas was flat at $3.83 per 1,000 cubic feet.