Business Highlights


How well did the Fed’s stimulus work?

NEW YORK (AP) — Soaring inflation. A collapsing dollar. Bubbles in financial markets that would soon pop. One presidential candidate even suggested that the Federal Reserve chairman should be roughed up.

Over the past five years, as the Fed has pumped ever-more money into the financial system, critics have warned that it would lead to all kinds of disasters. Yet the central bank kept extending its bond-buying program, known by the wonky name of quantitative easing, or QE. It was an unprecedented effort aimed at lowering borrowing costs, encouraging spending and reviving a dormant economy before it could slip back into recession.

Now, $4 trillion later, QE is drawing to a close, so the question is: Did it work?

Economists have plenty of quibbles, but many agree that the Fed accomplished the bulk of its goals.


Electric-car drivers trading gas for solar power

DETROIT (AP) — Owners of electric vehicles have already gone gas-free. Now, a growing number are powering their cars with sunlight.

Solar panels installed on the roof of a home or garage can easily generate enough electricity to power an electric or plug-in gas-electric hybrid vehicle. The panels aren’t cheap, and neither are the cars. A Ford Fusion Energi plug-in sedan, for example, is $7,200 more than an equivalent gas-powered Fusion even after a $4,007 federal tax credit.

But advocates say the investment pays off over time and is worth it for the thrill of fossil fuel-free driving.


Retail skirmish blocks Apple Pay at checkout line

NEW YORK (AP) — Plan on paying in stores with your shiny new iPhone 6? Not so fast.

Retailer resistance to Apple Pay had been expected because Apple hasn’t offered incentives to install pricey point-of-sale terminals and train staff on its new mobile payment system. But the decision to not accept Apple Pay by retailers that already have contactless terminals in the checkout line is a “skirmish” rooted in competition.

Big merchants like McDonald’s, Macy’s and Foot Locker are all accepting Apple Pay. But a consortium of retailers called Merchant Customer Exchange plans to offer a rival mobile payment system next year which could direct debit customers’ checking accounts, instead of using a credit card. It also will be designed to track customer buying patterns to be able to offer targeted promotions. In the meantime, some of the group’s biggest members, like CVS, 7-Eleven, Best Buy and Wal-Mart, are nixing so-called NFC payments even though they already have the point-of-sale technology in stores. Other retailers that aren’t part of MCX, like Starbucks and Taco Bell, are opting to develop their own mobile payment services, and so aren’t taking Apple Pay either.


Syria’s 3-year conflict roiling the economy

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — The middle-aged salesman sat glumly among an array of shorts, khaki leisure suits bedecked with gold belts and dresses with plunging necklines in the ancient Damascus bazaar — luxuries few can afford in today’s Syria.

He, like many traders, lost most of his customers when Syria’s uprising erupted in 2011 against the rule of President Bashar Assad, and his new clientele is far poorer: Syrians fleeing the fighting with barely any possessions.

Now, he fears there’s even worse to come, as the U.S.-led bombings of the Islamic State group target the country’s modest oil reserves under the militants’ control, sending oil and diesel prices soaring.

The effect is rippling through the economy, and traders fear they won’t be able to absorb the increased costs, pushing them out of business and unraveling yet another key sector of Syrian society, already badly frayed by conflict.


FTC says AT&T misled customers over unlimited data

WASHINGTON (AP) — AT&T is being sued by the government over allegations it misled millions of smartphone customers who were promised unlimited data but had their Internet speeds cut by the company — slowing their ability to open web pages or watch streaming video.

The Federal Trade Commission filed its complaint Tuesday against AT&T Mobility Inc., charging that the telecom company failed to adequately disclose to customers that it would reduce data speeds if they went over a certain amount of data use in a billing cycle. The practice, known as throttling, slowed web browsing, GPS navigation or streaming videos.

According to the complaint, at least 3.5 million consumers have been affected. Some customers, the agency said, had data speeds slowed by nearly 90 per cent.


Facebook’s advertising revenue soars in 3Q

NEW YORK (AP) — Facebook grew its advertising revenue by 64 per cent in the third quarter, helped by a boost in mobile ads that are becoming an increasingly large chunk of the social networking giant’s overall advertising business.

The steady increase indicates that Facebook has succeeded in steering advertisers to its mobile platform at a time when most of its users are using Facebook on phones and tablets. Investors were initially worried about the desktop Web era-born company’s ability to succeed in mobile advertising, but those concerns are long gone.

Advertising revenue at the company totalled $2.96 billion. Mobile ad revenue, a closely watched figure, was $1.95 billion, or 66 per cent of Facebook’s total advertising revenue for the quarter. That’s up from 62 per cent in the second quarter and 59 per cent in the first three months of the year. The 10-year-old company began offering mobile ads in 2012.


US consumer confidence hits 7-year high in October

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. consumer confidence rebounded strongly in October, hitting a seven-year high as solid job gains raised expectations for economic growth.

The Conference Board said Tuesday that its confidence index climbed to 94.5, the strongest reading since October 2007 and the start of the Great Recession a few months later. This month’s gains reversed a revised decline to 89 in September from 93.4 in August.

Job gains and falling gasoline prices have helped to improve sentiment, despite muted economic growth in Europe and China that has fueled volatility in financial markets.

Consumer confidence has been trending higher from lows during the worst downturn since the 1930s. However, confidence still lags pre-recession highs more than five years into the recovery.


Macy’s to head overseas with branch in Abu Dhabi

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The Middle East is getting the world’s first Macy’s department store outside the United States, and just for good measure, its second Bloomingdale’s too.

Property developer Gulf Related and Dubai-based retail conglomerate Al Tayer Group said on Tuesday that they plan to open both stores in a new shopping centre being built in the United Arab Emirates capital, Abu Dhabi.

The mall, known as Al Maryah Central, is expected to cost about $1 billion to build and should open in spring 2018. It will be located next to an existing shopping mall known as The Galleria on al-Maryah island, a rapidly developing area just across the water from Abu Dhabi’s central business district.

Abu Dhabi is the largest and richest of the seven sheikdoms that make up the Emirates. It controls the bulk of the OPEC country’s oil wealth and is home to one of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds.


By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 187.81 points, or 1.1 per cent, to 17,005.75. The S&P 500 rose 23.42 points, or 1.2 per cent, to 1,985.05. The Nasdaq composite climbed 78.36 points, or 1.8 per cent, to 4,564.29.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose 42 cents to close at $81.42 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, rose 20 cents to close at $86.03 on the ICE Futures exchange in London. Wholesale gasoline rose 2.6 cents to close at $2.196 a gallon. Heating oil rose 1.8 cents to close at $2.493 a gallon. Natural gas rose 8.8 cents to close at $3.649 per 1,000 cubic feet.