Business Highlights


Wal-Mart plans to slow new store openings, invest in online

NEW YORK (AP) — Wal-Mart Stores Inc. says it plans to slow its new store openings and pour more money into its online efforts, technology and store remodels.

The world’s largest retailer completed its more than $3 billion buyout of the fast-growing online retailer last month, showing how heavily it’s willing to invest to boost online sales that totalled $13.7 billion last year — still just a fraction of its annual revenue.

It also tempered its outlook, saying it anticipates fiscal 2018 earnings per share being about flat with its fiscal 2017 adjusted earnings per share.


World finance leaders seek to address anti-trade backlash

WASHINGTON (AP) — World finance leaders say they must do more to deal with a growing anti-trade backlash, which they fear could worsen already sluggish global growth prospects.

How to deal with the attacks on globalization, featured in the Donald Trump’s U.S. presidential campaign and in the vote in Britain to leave the European Union, is a top agenda item at the fall meetings of the 189-nation International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde told reporters Thursday that IMF officials “see growth as too low for too long and benefiting too few.”


Stocks end mixed after clawing back from broad losses

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks recovered from a broad decline to end mixed on Thursday, a day ahead of a key jobs report.

The market fell from the start, then drifted between gains and losses for much of the afternoon. Yields on Treasury bonds rose again, and the price of oil climbed past $50 a barrel for the first time since June.

By the end of trading, seven of the 11 sectors of the Standard and Poor’s 500 index rose, led by suppliers of basic materials. Health care companies and phone companies led the decliners.


US claims for jobless aid drop to lowest since mid-April

WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits last week felt to the lowest level since mid-April, another sign that workers are enjoying job security despite sluggish economic growth.

The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly applications for jobless aid slid by 5,000 to a seasonally adjusted 249,000. The less volatile four-week average dropped 2,500 to 253,500, lowest since December 1973. Overall, 2.06 million Americans are collecting unemployment checks, down more than 7 per cent from a year ago.


Average US 30-year mortgage rate unchanged at 3.42 per cent

WASHINGTON (AP) — Long-term U.S. mortgage rates didn’t move this week, remaining at their lowest levels since mid-July as a lure to prospective homebuyers.

Mortgage giant Freddie Mac said Thursday the average for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was unchanged from last week at 3.42 per cent. The benchmark rate is down from 3.76 per cent a year ago and close to its all-time low of 3.31 per cent in November 2012.

The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage, popular with homeowners who are refinancing, stayed at 2.72 per cent.


US farmers make foray into quinoa as demand for grain grows

SEQUIM, Wash. (AP) — A small number of U.S. farmers are trying to capitalize on American eaters’ growing demand for the Andean grain, quinoa.

Americans consume more than half the global production of quinoa, which totalled 37,000 tons in 2012. Twenty years earlier, production was merely 600 tons, according to the United Nation’s Food and Agricultural Organization.

Quinoa’s nutritional punch has pushed the grain beyond health food stores and into general consumption. Yet quinoa fields are so rare in American farming that the total acreage doesn’t show on an agricultural census.


Federal government: Mylan has been overcharging for EpiPens

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Even the federal government is apparently paying too much for EpiPens.

The skyrocketing price of the life-saving allergy shot, which has triggered a storm of criticism, is only part of the problem. Now the federal government says Medicaid has been paying too much for EpiPens for years because the emergency shot is classified incorrectly as a generic medicine.

The federal government says EpiPen is a branded drug, which means the drug’s maker, Mylan, should have been paying the government a far higher rebate under the government’s complex pricing rules.

Mylan denies wrongdoing but could face steep penalties.


UN agreement reached on aircraft climate-change emissions

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United Nations’ aviation arm overwhelmingly ratified an agreement Thursday to control global warming emissions from international airline flights, the first climate-change pact to set worldwide limits on a single industry.

The agreement, adopted overwhelmingly by the 191-nation International Civil Aviation Organization at a meeting in Montreal, sets airlines’ carbon emissions in the year 2020 as the upper limit of what carriers are allowed to discharge. Airlines that exceed that limit in future years, as most are expected to do, will have to offset their emissions growth by buying credits from other industries and projects that limit greenhouse gas emissions.


Airlines cancel hundreds of flights as hurricane hits US

Airlines cancelled hundreds of flights for Thursday and planned more cancellations for Friday as Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast with high winds and heavy rain.

The Fort Lauderdale airport shut down on Thursday morning, and the Orlando airport expected to do the same by nighttime.

Before 2 p.m. Eastern time, flight-tracking service reported that 1,500 Thursday flights within the U.S. had been scrapped. FlightAware said airlines had already cancelled 1,300 more flights scheduled for Friday.


Norway to spend record $28 billion oil money to boost growth

HELSINKI (AP) — Norway says it plans to spend 225 billion kroner ($28 billion) of its oil fund — the largest in the world — to further stimulate the economy next year in the Scandinavian country that has shown signs of a gradual economic recovery.

The Finance Ministry says in its budget proposals that the record amount is equivalent to 0.4 per cent of the country’s GDP. It will be 20 billion kroner more than this year, amounting to 3 per cent of the value of the sovereign wealth fund.

The ministry said Thursday the market value of the fund, known as the Government Pension Fund Global, is expected to peak at 7,671 billion kroner at the end of 2017 — up from an estimated 7,420 billion kroner at the end of this year


Theranos closing labs, laying off 340 following sanctions

PALO ALTO, Calif. (AP) — Embattled blood testing company Theranos says it will shut down its clinical labs and wellness centres and lay off more than 40 per cent of its full-time employees.

Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes says the shutdowns will impact approximately 340 employees in Arizona, California, and Pennsylvania.

The move comes nearly three months after federal regulators banned Holmes from owning or running a medical laboratory for two years. Theranos is appealing the ban, which stems from an investigation of the California facility.


The Dow Jones industrial average fell 12.53 points, or less than 0.1 per cent, to 18,268.50. The S&P 500 inched up 1.04 points, or 0.05 per cent, to 2,160.77. The Nasdaq composite slipped 9.17 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 5,306.85.

U.S. benchmark crude oil rose 61 cents to close at $50.44 a barrel in the New York, its first close above $50 a barrel since June 23. Brent crude, the international standard, rose 65 cents to close at $52.51 a barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline edged up less than 1 cent to $1.50 a gallon, heating oil rose 1 cent to $1.60 a gallon and natural gas rose less than 1 cent to $3.05 per 1,000 cubic feet.