Business Highlights


US GDP grows a weak 1.2 per cent in second quarter

WASHINGTON (AP) — Growth in the U.S. economy was sluggish again in the spring, dashing expectations for a robust rebound after a tough winter.

The Commerce Department said Friday that the gross domestic product — the broadest measure of the economy — grew at a 1.2 per cent annual rate in the April-June quarter. That was far below the 2.6 per cent GDP growth rate that economists had been forecasting.

Stronger consumer spending was offset by weakness in housing construction and a big slowdown in the pace that businesses restocked store shelves.


SABMiller to recommend AB InBev’s improved offer

LONDON (AP) — SABMiller’s board says it will recommend that shareholders accept Anheuser-Busch InBev’s revised 79 billion pound ($104 billion) takeover offer, clearing the way for a shareholder vote on the mega-deal.

The decision comes as some SABMiller shareholders were seeking a better offer after the value of the pound dropped more than 10 per cent since Britain voted last month to leave the European Union.

The pound’s drop means that the majority of SABMiller’s shareholders have seen the value of their deal drop when compared with the offer of cash and AB InBev shares that is being offered to SABMiller’s top two shareholders.


Cheaper oil sends Exxon, Chevron to worst quarter in years

DALLAS (AP) — Cheaper oil is leading to the lowest summer gasoline prices in years, and it is causing heartburn for oil companies and their shareholders.

On Friday, Exxon Mobil Corp. reported its smallest quarterly profit in nearly 17 years — although it still earned $1.7 billion. Chevron Corp. lost money. The reports from the two biggest U.S. oil companies followed weak second-quarter results from BP and Royal Dutch Shell.

Exxon Chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson said the results “reflect a volatile industry environment.”


Stocks close mostly higher, helped by technology, oil

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks ended slightly higher on Friday, helped by better-than-expected quarterly results from Google’s parent Alphabet and retailer Amazon and a modest recovery in oil prices.

However, the gains were held back by disappointing results from Exxon Mobil as well as news out of the Bank of Japan, which did not announce as much stimulus as many had hoped.


US wages, benefits see steady rise in second quarter

WASHINGTON (AP) — The wages and benefits paid to U.S. civilian workers rose at a steady pace in the second quarter compared to the first three months of the year, as income growth showed signs of slight acceleration.

The Labor Department says total compensation increased 0.6 per cent from April to June, matching the pace of the prior three months. Over the past 12 months, employment costs have risen 2.3 per cent, up from the annual pace of 2 per cent a year ago.


Merck posts strong 2Q numbers, while building for long term

Drugmaker Merck & Co., focused heavily on its long-term future as it builds sales of crucial new medicines Keytruda for cancer and Zepatier for hepatitis C, still posted a big jump in second-quarter profit thanks to slightly higher sales and more cost cutting.

The drugmaker is transitioning to a hoped-for new growth cycle fueled by those recently launched, potential blockbuster drugs. Meanwhile, it’s trying to offset falling sales or slowing growth due to increased generic and brand-name competition for bestsellers including immune disorder drug Remicade, cholesterol drugs Zetia and Vytorin, and Type 2 diabetes drug Januvia.


UPS 2Q revenue improves on strength in US, abroad

ATLANTA (AP) — UPS’s second-quarter revenue improved on solid performances from its domestic and international package divisions. Its earnings edged up and the company reaffirmed its earnings guidance for the full year.

The package and delivery service’s revenue increased to $14.63 billion from $14.1 billion. Revenue for the U.S. domestic package unit climbed 4 per cent, with average daily package volume up 2.5 per cent. For the international package division, revenue rose 1.1 per cent and daily export packages climbed 3.9 per cent.

The package and delivery industry is a competitive field, with UPS doing battle with rivals such as FedEx and the U.S. Postal Service.


Sony’s profit falls on yen, lagging cellphones, Japan quake

TOKYO (AP) — Sony Corp.’s fiscal first-quarter profit dipped 74 per cent to 21.2 billion yen ($205 million), as earnings were hammered by a strong yen and lagging smartphone sales, and a quake in southwestern Japan that disrupted its camera parts and semiconductor production.

The Japanese electronics and entertainment giant reported Friday that April-June sales slipped nearly 11 per cent year-on-year to 1.6 trillion yen ($15.7 billion).

Quarterly profit last year totalled 82.4 billion yen.


AP Sources: Tesla looking at cameras, radar in Florida crash

DETROIT (AP) — Tesla engineers told members of a Senate committee that they are looking into the role cameras and radar played in the fatal crash of a Model S using self-driving mode, according to two people familiar with a meeting held Thursday.

The engineers have two main theories. Either the car’s cameras and radar failed to spot a crossing tractor-trailer. Or the cameras didn’t see the rig and the car’s computer thought the radar signal was false, possibly from an overpass or sign.

Tesla officials disclosed these theories to U.S. Senate Commerce Committee staff members during an hour-long meeting.


Groups ask appeals court to reconsider net neutrality ruling

NEW YORK (AP) — Cable and telecom industry groups want a federal appeals court to reconsider its ruling on “net neutrality” that preserved regulations forcing internet providers to treat all online traffic equally.

The Wireless Association, an industry trade group also known as CTIA, and other groups on Friday filed petitions for the case to be reheard by all of the court’s judges.

Last month, a three-judge panel from the court upheld the government’s net neutrality rules that treat the internet like a public utility and prohibit blocking, slowing and creating paid fast lanes for online traffic.


‘Pokemon Go’ creators working to be ‘respectful’ of reality

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The creators of “Pokemon Go” say they’re working to remove real-world locations that don’t wish to be included in the mobile gaming sensation.

The Pokemon Company’s consumer marketing director J.C. Smith said in an interview this week that they’re updating the augmented-reality game so it remains fun for players but respects the real world.

The location-aware game provides virtual rewards for players who visit real sites designated as “Pokestops” in the game. Several locations, such as the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Japan and the Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C., have asked to be removed from “Pokemon Go.”


The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 24.11 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 18,432.24.The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 3.54 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 2,173.60 and the Nasdaq composite increased 7.15 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 5,162.13.

Benchmark U.S. crude reversed earlier losses and was up 46 cents to close at $41.60 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 24 cents to $42.46 a barrel in London.

Heating oil rose less than 1 cent to $1.28 a gallon, wholesale gasoline futures rose 1 cent to $1.32 a gallon and natural gas fell was little changed at $2.88 per thousand cubic feet.