Business Highlights


Yellen says she isn’t going anywhere when Trump takes office

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen appears unruffled by incoming President Donald Trump’s victory last week.

Her remarks to Congress Thursday suggest that the central bank is on track to raise interest rates at its meeting in December, one month before Trumps takes office. She said she has no plans to step down before her four-year term ends on Feb. 3, 2018, reiterated the Fed’s political independence and vigorously defended tougher bank regulations established in the wake of the financial crisis. An improving U.S. economy has bolstered the case for raising interest rates, Yellen told Congress’ Joint Economic Committee.


America’s shift to SUVs is on display at L.A. Auto Show

America’s shift from cars to SUVs is starting to look permanent, and automakers are scrambling to meet the demand.

Toyota, Ford, Subaru, Jeep and Volkswagen are all showing new SUVs at this week’s Los Angeles Auto Show. Even traditional luxury car makers like Jaguar and Alfa Romeo are debuting SUVs.

Americans bought more SUVs than four-door cars for the first time last year, and the momentum is growing. But unlike the previous SUV boom, which fell victim to rising gas prices, this one is likely to stay as automakers offer more small SUVs with better fuel economy.


Ex-Valeant, Philidor execs arrested for fraud, conspiracy

Former executives of Valeant Pharmaceuticals and a related mail-order pharmacy were charged Thursday with running a fraud-and-kickback scheme that bilked Valeant out of millions of dollars.

Their arrests are part of an ongoing investigation, according to Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, who said other arrests are possible.

Bharara’s office said it has charged Gary Tanner, a former Valeant executive, and Andrew Davenport, who had been the chief executive of Philidor, a mail-order pharmacy that is now defunct, with two counts of wire fraud, along with money laundering and conspiracy.


Bank stocks surge again, leading broader market higher

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks rose Thursday as banks resumed their steep upward climb and retailers moved higher. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen emphasized that the Fed plans to raise interest rates, which will help banks make more money from lending.

Stocks started the day with small gains and moved higher following Yellen’s testimony to Congress. Banks once again marched higher as investors cheered the latest indication that interest rates will rise from their current ultra-low levels. Retailers also rose after strong earnings from Best Buy, while food and household goods makers struggled after weak results from Wal-Mart and J.M. Smucker.


Wal-Mart’s profit falls but beats estimates; revenue misses

NEW YORK (AP) — Wal-Mart Stores Inc. saw its third-quarter profit fall more than 8 per cent, dragged down as it continues to plow money into e-commerce and improving its stores. While online sales improved, overall revenue fell short of expectations as the company said it was hurt in part by falling food prices.

Profit at the world’s largest retailer still beat Wall Street expectations, and it lifted the bottom end of its full-year profit forecast. Investors focused on the sales, though, sending shares in the retailer down.


Gap’s third-quarter profit drops nearly 18 per cent

NEW YORK (AP) — Gap’s third-quarter profit fell nearly 18 per cent, undercut by costs related to store closures outside North America.

Gap Inc. shares fell in after-market trading Thursday as the company said the slump in the number of people visiting its stores continues as it heads into the critical holiday shopping season.

Gap is facing the same problems as other fashion retailers, with shoppers buying less clothing in general and also favouring off-price chains like T.J. Maxx. But Gap is also struggling with identity problems, mired in a slump as its fashions just don’t stand out in an overcrowded landscape.


JPMorgan Chase to pay $264 million in Chinese bribery case

NEW YORK (AP) — JPMorgan Chase & Co. has agreed to pay $264.4 million in fines to federal authorities to settle criminal and civil charges that it hired friends and relatives of Chinese officials in order to gain access to banking deals in that country.

JPMorgan’s Asia affiliate allegedly created a quid pro quo program that would hire the children and friends of high-ranking Chinese officials, regardless of the person’s qualifications, in order to gain favour and win banking deals.


Tesla, SolarCity get shareholder approval for merger

Tesla Motors got approval from investors to combine with SolarCity Corp. in an effort to expand the market for solar power and give electric car owners new options for solar charging.

Shareholders of both companies backed the merger by a wide margin Thursday.

The deal, first proposed by Tesla CEO Elon Musk proposed in June, has had more of a mixed reaction on Wall Street. Analysts wondered why Tesla would want to take on SolarCity while busy with its own goals. There were also complaints of a conflict of interest for Musk, who is chairman of both companies.


Wells Fargo sees significant slowdown in account openings

NEW YORK (AP) — Wells Fargo disclosed signs on Thursday that its customers are significantly pulling back from doing business with the bank, a reverberation of the sales practices scandal that drew a huge fine in September.

Because of the timing, its data for October is the first full-picture view of customer reaction and it is not pretty.

New customer account openings fell 44 per cent in October from a year earlier, while account closures rose 3 per cent from the previous year. The bank saw a 50 per cent drop in credit card applications.


Verizon’s AOL cutting 500 jobs, will focus on mobile, video

NEW YORK (AP) — AOL is cutting about 500 jobs, or 8 per cent of its workforce, as it trims back following some deals and focuses on mobile, video and data.

In a memo to employees, AOL CEO Tim Armstrong says the Verizon-owned company has added 1,500 employees over the past year because of acquisitions and partnerships, and it needs to consolidate to improve operations.

Armstrong says AOL will add jobs in the areas that are driving growth.


Sorry Trump, NY Times says subscriptions rose since election

NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Times pushed back against President-elect Donald Trump, saying Thursday that its paid subscriptions have jumped since the election, despite Trump’s accusations.

On Sunday, Trump tweeted that the Times “is losing thousands of subscribers because of their very poor and highly inaccurate coverage of the ‘Trump phenomena.'”

The Times said Thursday that it added 41,000 paid subscriptions to its newspaper and digital news products in the week since Election Day. The increase is its largest one-week rise since 2011, when it launched its digital subscription model.


The Dow Jones industrial average added 35.68 points, or 0.2 per cent, to close at 18,903.82. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 10.18 points, or 0.5 per cent, to 2,187.12. The Nasdaq composite added 39.39 points, or 0.7 per cent, to 5,333.97.

Benchmark U.S. crude slid 15 cents to $45.42 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, slipped 14 cents to $46.49 a barrel in London. In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline rose 2 cents to $1.34 a gallon. Heating oil rose 1 cent to $1.45 a gallon. Natural gas fell 6 cents, or 2.2 per cent, to $2.70 per 1,000 cubic feet.


The first item has been corrected to read that Yellen’s term ends on Feb. 3, 2018, not January 2018.