Business Highlights


Yellen: Economy improving but timing of rate hike is unclear

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen indicated Monday that the U.S. economy is improving but remains defined by so many uncertainties that it’s unclear when the Fed should resume raising interest rates.

Speaking in Philadelphia, Yellen struck a mainly positive and optimistic tone about the economy. She noted that the job market had strengthened significantly since the Great Recession and said that consumer spending and economic growth seem likely to accelerate after a tepid start to 2016.

But the Fed chair suggested that a dismal jobs report that the government issued Friday had raised some doubts about the broader economy. She referred repeatedly to the uncertainties surrounding the Fed’s outlook.


US presses China over industrial glut at strategic dialogue

BEIJING (AP) — U.S. envoys pressed China on Monday to cut excess steel production that is flooding global markets and to reach a diplomatic settlement to territorial disputes in the South China Sea, as the two sides opened a high-level dialogue.

The annual meeting of Cabinet-level foreign affairs, trade and other officials from both sides is meant to head off conflict. Officials acknowledged differences on an array of issues but repeatedly stressed their interest in amicable co-operation, and pledged to work together to see the Paris agreement on curbing emissions of climate-changing gases ratified by the world’s governments.


Economists increasingly uncertain about US growth this year

WASHINGTON (AP) — Business economists are giving a more pessimistic outlook about U.S. economic growth this year for the third consecutive month and uncertainty over the November presidential election has proven to be damaging.

The median estimate from economists surveyed by the National Association for Business Economics calls for gross domestic product growth of only 1.8 per cent, down from the 2.2 per cent forecast in March. The outlook for next year calls for 2.3 per cent growth.


Union: New airport towers must be remodeled before opening

WASHINGTON (AP) — Two state-of-the-art airport towers due to go into operation this fall in San Francisco and Las Vegas are designed for electronic tracking of planes as they taxi and takeoff. But union officials say the towers will have to be extensively remodeled before they can open to accommodate older technology that uses paper strips to track planes.

The new rooms on top of the towers where controllers watch aircraft operations are designed exclusively for electronic tracking, said Paul Rinaldi, president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association. But the prototype electronic strip system the Federal Aviation Administration plans to use is too unstable and “crashes” too often to be relied upon, he said. This means that controllers need to quickly turn to the historical system of passing paper strips from one controller to another to hand off responsibility for a plane and carefully line up multiple strips to keep tabs on the status of flights.

Here’s the problem: the tower “cabs” have been designed without the tables, printers and places to hang strips that are necessary for controllers to use the old system while still keeping an eye on planes, he said.


Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg loses control of social media

NEW YORK (AP) — Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg briefly found his Twitter account hijacked, as were at least two of his other social media accounts.

Zuckerberg’s Facebook account and password were not compromised, the company said in a statement; his account on Facebook-owned Instagram was also unaffected. Facebook Inc. said Monday morning that none of the company’s systems or accounts were accessed and that Zuckerberg’s affected accounts have since been re-secured.

A person close to the situation confirmed that Zuckerberg’s LinkedIn and Pinterest accounts also were affected. Officials for both of those social media networks didn’t immediate respond to requests for comment.


Burberry CEO gets 75 per cent pay cut amid sales slump

LONDON (AP) — Burberry CEO Christopher Bailey has taken a 75 per cent pay cut after the luxury retailer failed to hit profit targets amid a challenging global environment and a slowdown in the Chinese economy.

The company’s annual report released Monday says that Bailey will be paid 1.9 million pounds ($2.75 million), down from 7.5 million the previous year. He and other top executive directors received no bonuses as adjusted profit before tax “was below the threshold target set by the Remuneration Committee.”


Hostess recalls snack cakes, doughnuts over peanut residue

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Hostess Brands has voluntarily recalled various snack cakes and doughnuts over concerns they may have come in contact with peanut residue not included in the ingredient list.

The Kansas City, Missouri-based company’s recall announced Friday covers more than 700,000 cases of Ding Dongs, Zingers, Chocodiles and various doughnuts sold in grocery, dollar, drug and convenience stores in the U.S. and Mexico.

The recall covers single-serve products and multipack boxes.


High court rejects Google’s appeal in class action lawsuit

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court won’t hear an appeal from Google over a class action lawsuit filed by advertisers who claim the internet company displayed their ads on “low quality” websites.

The justices on Monday let stand a lower court ruling that said the lawsuit representing hundreds of thousands of advertisers using Google’s AdWords program could go forward.

Google argued that a federal appeals court in San Francisco should not have approved the class action because damages must be calculated individually for each company advertiser. The appeals court rejected that argument and approved use of a formula that would calculate harm based on the average advertiser’s experience.


American will reward fliers based on dollars, not miles

DALLAS (AP) — American Airlines is following other airlines by basing perks like free flights on how much passengers spend on tickets, not how many miles they fly.

The change, which matches those at Delta Air Lines and United Airlines, starts with flights on Aug. 1 and rewards American’s highest-paying passengers.

Elite-status members of American’s AAdvantage frequent-flier program will earn bonus miles for every dollar they spend.

American signalled in October that changes were coming, but gave few details until Monday.

AAdvantage has about 100 million members, making it the biggest and the oldest major airline loyalty program.


Pharma exec Shkreli pleads not guilty to securities fraud

NEW YORK (AP) — A pharmaceutical executive who came under fire for jacking up the price of a lifesaving malaria medication has pleaded not guilty to new charges in his securities fraud case.

Martin Shkreli appeared Monday in federal court in New York City. He declined to speak to reporters as he left the courthouse.

A revised indictment filed last week alleged Shkreli and his former attorney Evan Greebel schemed to defrauded potential investors of his former drug company Retrophin Inc., based in San Diego. Greebel also pleaded not guilty Monday.


The Dow Jones industrial average gained 113.27 points, or 0.6 per cent, to 17,920.33. The S&P 500 rose 10.28 points, or 0.5 per cent, to 2,109.41. The Nasdaq composite index picked up 26.20 points, or 0.5 per cent, to 4,968.71.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose $1.07, or 2.2 per cent, to $49.69 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, gained 91 cents, or 1.8 per cent, to $50.55 a barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline lost 2 cents to $1.59 a gallon. Heating oil gained 2 cents to $1.50 a gallon. Natural gas rose 7 cents, or 2.8 per cent, to $2.47 per 1,000 cubic feet.