Business Highlights


Eurozone economy regains size of 2008 but remains shaky

LONDON (AP) — The eurozone economy is finally back to the size it was before the global financial crisis.

The 19-country currency union, which as a bloc is the world’s second-largest economy, enjoyed an unexpected acceleration in the first three months of the year, expanding by a quarterly rate of 0.6 per cent, official figures showed Friday.

That means the economy is now bigger than it was at the start of 2008, before the financial crisis triggered the deepest global recession since World War II. However, the region still has far to go to heal fully.


Oculus Rift delays flatten virtual-reality fan fervor

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Virtual reality isn’t immune to the problems that arise in practical reality. Just ask would-be fans of the Oculus Rift headset, many of whom are still waiting for their $600 gadgets to arrive — four weeks after they started shipping.

The delay has sparked online grousing and even the creation of a crowdsourced spreadsheet for tracking who received their prized VR gear and when. Some longtime supporters of Oculus have declared themselves alienated by the company’s inability to deliver; others have defected to rival VR systems, or are at least considering it.


Exxon sees smallest profit in 16 years, Chevron posts loss

DALLAS (AP) — Motorists are saving billions on cheaper gasoline, but the long slump in oil prices is taking a heavy toll on companies that find and produce crude.

Exxon Mobil posted its smallest quarterly profit in more than 16 years Friday, while Chevron lost $725 million, its worst showing since 2002. Chevron also raised the number of jobs it expects to cut this year from 7,000 to 8,000. Other oil companies are expected to report weak earnings in the next few days.


US places 5 countries on trade monitoring list

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Treasury Department has placed five countries — China, Japan, Germany, South Korea and Taiwan — on a new monitoring list designed to pressure foreign governments to tackle large trade imbalances with the United States.

The action was disclosed in a report the administration sent to Congress on Friday. The report, which by law Treasury must submit to Congress every six months, does not designate any nation as a currency manipulator. But Treasury did say it is employing new tools to more closely monitor actions of countries with which the United States is running large deficits.

Under criteria Congress established earlier this year, Treasury put the countries on a monitoring list that will trigger talks but no economic penalties. However, if the discussions fail, the countries could face a greater threat of sanctions in the future.


First drug for delusions in Parkinson’s patients approved

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal health officials have approved an experimental drug to treat psychotic delusions and behaviours that often afflict patients with Parkinson’s disease, the debilitating movement disorder.

The drug from Acadia Pharmaceuticals Inc. is the first drug for the condition, which affects approximately half of Parkinson’s patients. An estimated 50,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s each year, making it the second-most common neurodegenerative disease in the U.S.


US stocks hit by health care woes but avoid bigger losses

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks fell Friday as health care and technology companies continued to report weak first-quarter results, but thanks to some late buying, they managed to avoid major losses.

Stocks opened lower and fell further throughout the morning, extending a downturn from the day before. That followed a rout in European indexes. Late in the day bond prices rose again, sending yields lower and pushing investors to buy utility and phone company stocks.


First widely available Zika test OK’d for emergency use

WASHINGTON (AP) — The first commercial test for the Zika virus has been cleared for emergency use in the U.S.

The Food and Drug Administration granted the authorization Thursday to the test’s developer, Quest Diagnostics, which said it would make it widely available to doctors for patient testing as early as next week.

Eventually the test could be expanded to several dozen other Quest laboratories throughout the U.S. and in Puerto Rico. Previously Zika tests were only available through a handful of government-designated laboratories.


Yahoo CEO could get $55M in severance pay in potential sale

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer will walk away with a $55 million severance package if the company’s auction of its Internet operations culminates in a sale that ousts her from her job.

The payout disclosed in a Friday regulatory filing consists of cash, stock awards and other benefits that Mayer would get should she be forced out as CEO within a year after a sale.

Although Yahoo’s board is still evaluating takeover offers, most investors are betting that the company will decide to sell its well-known brand and an Internet business that includes a popular email service and sections focused on sports and finance.

Mayer, a former Google executive, has been unsuccessfully trying to turn around Yahoo for nearly four years. Instead, Yahoo’s long-running slump has deepened during her reign.


Valeant files overdue financial report, ending debt default

Valeant Pharmaceuticals resolved its default on some of its $30 billion in debt by finally filing its long-overdue U.S. financial report for 2015 on Friday. The badly tarnished Canadian drugmaker also announced a slate of mostly new nominees for elections to its board in June.

The moves briefly nudged up Valeant’s battered shares, but they quickly headed south amid a broader market sell-off and the realization that the former Wall Street darling’s future is still in question.


China charges brokers, fund manager with insider trading

BEIJING (AP) — A prominent investor and the general manager of China’s biggest stock brokerage have been arrested on insider trading charges, the government announced Friday, in the latest aftershock from a plunge in stock prices last year.

Authorities launched an investigation of securities traders that many saw as an attempt by the ruling Communist Party to deflect blame for the rout that wiped out some $5 trillion in stock value after state media encouraged the public to buy shares.


US consumer spending inches up in March

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. consumers boosted their spending by a tiny amount in March as purchases of nondurable goods such as clothing offset a big fall in spending on autos and other long-lasting items.

Spending edged up 0.1 per cent last month after a 0.2 per cent rise in February, the Commerce Department reported Friday. Incomes rose a solid 0.4 per cent.

Consumer spending, which accounts for 70 per cent of economic activity, has been lacklustre for the past four months.


The Dow Jones industrial average sank 57.12 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 17,773.64. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index gave up 10.51 points, or 0.5 per cent, to 2,065.30. The Nasdaq composite index shed 29.93 points, or 0.6 per cent, to 4,775.36.

Benchmark U.S. crude lost 11 cents to $45.92 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 1 cent to $48.13 a barrel in London. In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline lost 1 cent to $1.58 a gallon. Heating oil fell 3 cents, or 1.9 per cent, to $1.38 a gallon. Natural gas rose 10 cents, or 4.8 per cent, to $2.18 per 1,000 cubic feet.