Business Highlights


VW staff began working on cheat in 2005 to crack US market

WOLFSBURG, Germany (AP) — A small group of Volkswagen engineers began working as early as 2005 on emissions cheating software after they were unable to find a technical solution to U.S. emissions controls as the automaker pushed into the North American market, executives said Thursday.

The company in September admitted to have cheated on U.S. diesel emissions tests with the help of software installed in engines. The software was built into 11 million cars globally, about 500,000 of which in the U.S., from 2009 to 2015.

It has so far confirmed to have cheated only on the U.S. tests, which are more rigorous than European ones for the polluting emission nitrogen oxide.


Can trading pollution like stocks help fight climate change?

Widely derided by politicians on the left and the right, once thought dead even by its supporters, the idea of allowing companies to buy and sell pollution “rights” like stocks is now at the forefront again as 151 heads of state and government at the Paris climate conference grope for ways to avert environmental havoc.

Under such “cap-and-trade” systems, polluters are required to keep emissions below a certain level or hand over money to polluters that have managed to fall below theirs and have surplus pollution permits to sell. To cut greenhouse gases, the statewide level, or “cap,” is gradually lowered, forcing companies to figure out new ways of running their businesses to cut emissions.


Wal-Mart to launch own mobile pay system

NEW YORK (AP) — Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world’s largest retailer, said it’s launching its own mobile payment system that will allow shoppers to pay with any major credit or debit card or its own store gift card through its existing smartphone app at the cash register.

It started testing the new payment feature Thursday at its stores in the Bentonville, Arkansas area, where the retailer is based. It plans to launch the payment system called Walmart Pay in all 4,500-plus U.S. stores in early next year.


Yahoo CEO gives birth to twin girls after big announcement

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has followed a major business announcement with some big personal news.

She gave birth to twin girls Thursday, the day after unveiling plans to hatch a new company to control Yahoo’s Internet business. This is the second time that the 40-year-old Mayer has given birth since Yahoo hired her as CEO in July 2012.

A Yahoo spokeswoman declined to reveal the twins’ names or weights. Mayer and the twins are both doing well, according to the spokeswoman.


Who’s investigating fake Chinese goods? Fake investigators

SHANGHAI (AP) — Multinational corporations doing business in China face a losing battle when it comes to keeping copies of their products off the market: The anti-counterfeiting industry they rely on is plagued with fraud, making it that much easier for potentially dangerous fake goods to reach consumers, an Associated Press investigation has found.

Most Western companies subcontract anti-counterfeiting work to private investigators paid on commission. More seizures mean higher fees, creating powerful incentives to cheat in an industry with little oversight. As a result, money spent fighting counterfeiting often doesn’t make things better, and sometimes makes them worse.

The AP found instances of investigative fraud involving products that could be hazardous: counterfeit auto parts, pharmaceuticals, personal care products and electrical components.


Average US rate on 30-year mortgages rises to 3.95 per cent

WASHINGTON (AP) — Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates edged higher this week following three straight weeks of declines, amid expectations that the Federal Reserve will raise its key short-term interest rate next week.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday the average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose to 3.95 per cent from 3.93 per cent a week earlier. The average rate on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages increased to 3.19 per cent from 3.16 per cent.


US household wealth in Q3 fell for first time in 4 years

WASHINGTON (AP) — The stock market’s sharp decline in August and September took its toll on Americans’ finances in the third quarter. Household net worth fell for the first time in four years.

The Federal Reserve said Thursday that Americans’ stock and mutual fund portfolios plunged $2.3 trillion in the July-September quarter. That far outweighed a $482 billion increase in home values. Overall, household net worth fell to $85.2 trillion from $86.4 trillion in the second quarter.


UN: World economy stumbled in 2015, with 2.4 per cent growth

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The world economy stumbled in 2015, with growth estimated at just 2.4 per cent this year following a nearly 60 per cent drop in oil prices and an over 20 per cent fall in commodity prices in the last 18 months, according to a U.N. report released Thursday.

The report on the World Economic Situation and Prospects 2016 said many developing and former Soviet bloc countries suffered a broad slowdown to the weakest pace since the global financial crisis in 2008. The growth rate compares to 2.6 per cent in 2014.


Chipotle CEO ‘deeply sorry’ about customers who fell sick

NEW YORK (AP) — Chipotle founder and co-CEO Steve Ells says he is “deeply sorry” about the customers who were sickened after eating at the chain in recent weeks.

Ells repeated the company’s pledge to tighten food safety procedures to ensure such incidents do not happen again.

On the same day, Boston College increased the number of students who have reported feeling ill after a group of them ate at Chipotle from 120, to 141. The school said that 12 of those students did not eat at the restaurant.


GM ignition switch fund pays out $594.5M on 399 claims

DETROIT (AP) — Lawyers hired to compensate victims of General Motors’ faulty ignition switches have paid out $594.5 million to settle 399 eligible claims.

The numbers were released Thursday in a final report from compensation expert Kenneth Feinberg.

A total of 4,343 claims were filed with the GM fund. Only 9.2 per cent were deemed eligible for payments, including claims for 124 deaths and 275 injuries. The fund says more than 90 per cent of the offers it made were accepted.


Fiat Chrysler to pay $70 million fine to US government

DETROIT (AP) — Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will pay a $70 million fine to the U.S. government for failing to report safety data.

The fine is in addition to a $105 million penalty levied against Fiat Chrysler earlier this year for its mishandling of 23 recalls involving 11 million vehicles. The company must pay $140 million in cash and an additional $35 million if it fails to make required changes.

Fiat Chrysler acknowledged earlier this fall that it failed to provide early warning data to regulators from 2003 onward. That data — which includes deaths, injuries, warranty claims, property damage claims and consumer complaints — helps the government identify potential vehicle defects.


The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 82.45 points, or 0.5 per cent, to 17,574.75. The S&P 500 index rose 4.61 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 2,052.23. The Nasdaq composite increased 22.31 points, or 0.4 per cent, to 5,045.17.

Crude oil fell 40 cents, or 1 per cent, to $36.76 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the international benchmark, fell 38 cents, or 0.9 per cent, to $39.73 a barrel in London. In other trading of energy futures in New York, wholesale gasoline rose 4.9 cents to $1.28 a gallon, heating oil lost 1.4 cents to $1.225 a gallon and natural gas fell 4.7 cents to $2.105 per 1,000 cubic feet.