Business Highlights


A slump in transportation stocks may no longer signal danger

NEW YORK (AP) — One of the oldest trading strategies in the book is showing a yellow flag for stock investors, but analysts say it’s not quite time to sell yet.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed at an all-time high last month, extending a bull market that stretches back more than six years. However, another gauge that tracks airlines, railroad and freight companies — the Dow Jones transportation average — has gone the other way, slumping to a seven-month low at the end of May.


As Greece teeters, fallout for Europe uncertain

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Many economists think a Greek departure from the euro would be a disaster indeed. For Greece.

But for the rest of Europe?

Some think a Greek exit, or “Grexit,” would not in fact inflict serious damage on Europe’s economy as it struggles to work past a crisis over too much government and bank debt. Comparing a Greek exit to the collapse of U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers in 2008, which spread panic and deepened a global financial crisis, is misplaced, they say.


FDA panel backs female libido pill, under safety conditions

WASHINGTON (AP) — Government health experts are backing the approval of an experimental drug intended to boost the female sex drive, but stress that it should carry safety restrictions to manage side effects including fatigue, low blood pressure and fainting.

The Food and Drug Administration panel voted 18-6 in favour of approving Sprout Pharmaceutical’s daily pill, flibanserin, on the condition that the drugmaker develops a plan to limit its risks.


Eat fresher? Subway also dropping artificial ingredients

NEW YORK (AP) — Subway wants to give new meaning to its “eat fresh” slogan by joining the list of food companies to say it’s dropping artificial ingredients.

The sandwich chain known for its marketing itself as a healthier alternative to hamburger chains told The Associated Press it will remove artificial flavours, colours and preservatives from its menu in North America by 2017. Whether that can help Subway keep up with changing attitudes about what qualifies as healthy remains to be seen.


Sustainable investing: Not a simple choice of good or bad

NEW YORK (AP) — Sometimes it takes more to be good than just not being bad.

That’s the logic behind a shift within the surging sustainable-investing market. For years, the default way to invest responsibly was simply to ignore the companies and industries that some find distasteful, such as tobacco companies or casino operators. It’s still the world’s most popular approach, based on total dollars, but a more nuanced approach to sustainable investing is growing even more quickly.


Why World Cup sponsors aren’t bailing out

NEW YORK (AP) — How much scandal is too much scandal?

With billions of dollars at stake and few other ways to tap into the global love of soccer, FIFA sponsors like Adidas, Coke and McDonald’s are likely to hang onto their marketing deals and try to weather the scandal that has tarnished soccer’s governing body.

It would seem like an advertiser’s worst nightmare: More than a dozen soccer officials indicted in an investigation into decades of corruption and fraud. Some are even on Interpol’s global “most wanted” list. There’s no sign the revelations are ending.


To hike or not to hike? IMF urges Fed to delay rate increase

WASHINGTON (AP) — What’s the hurry?

The International Monetary Fund on Thursday urged the Federal Reserve to put off raising short-term interest rates until next year because the U.S. economy still needs help.

In its yearly check-up of the United States, the IMF predicted the American economy would grow just 2.5 per cent this year, down from its April forecast of 3.1 per cent. The downgrade reflects the economy’s stumbling start to the year: Gross domestic product fell the first three months of 2015, tripped up by harsh winter weather and the export-killing strength of the dollar.


Bogus buyout offer for Avon, other companies spurs SEC suit

NEW YORK (AP) — A Bulgarian man losing money in Avon Products used a bogus takeover offer to boost its stock price, a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission claimed on Thursday.

The lawsuit accuses Nedko Nedev, 37, and four companies of working together to violate securities laws.

The SEC’s suit said one of the companies, PTG Capital, gained access to a website maintained by the regulator and filed an offer for Avon falsely claiming it had proposed buying all the company’s stock for a large premium. As a result, Avon soared as much as 20 per cent on May 14, 2015.


Applications for US jobless aid remain low at 276,000

WASHINGTON (AP) — Fewer Americans sought unemployment benefits last week, a sign that job cuts remain low as employers are confident enough in the business outlook to hold onto their staffs.

The Labor Department says applications for unemployment aid dropped 8,000 to a seasonally adjusted 276,000. The four-week average, a less volatile figure, ticked up 2,750 to 274,750.

Applications have been below 300,000, a historically low level, for 13 weeks.

Applications are a proxy for layoffs. The small number of people seeking benefits indicates that Americans are enjoying solid job security.


US productivity fell in first quarter while labour costs up

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. worker productivity declined more sharply in the first three months of the year than previously thought while labour costs rose more quickly.

Productivity fell at a 3.1 per cent rate in the first quarter, a bigger drop than the 1.9 per cent decline estimated a month ago, the Labor Department reported Thursday. Labor costs rose at a 6.7 per cent rate in the first quarter, faster than 5 per cent rise first estimated.


Average US rate on 30-year mortgage stays at 3.87 per cent

WASHINGTON (AP) — Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates were flat to slightly lower this week, remaining near their highest levels so far this year.

Mortgage giant Freddie Mac said Thursday the average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was unchanged from a week earlier at 3.87 per cent. The rate on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages slipped to 3.08 per cent from 3.11 per cent.

Despite their climb in recent weeks during the height of the spring home buying season, mortgage rates remain low by historic standards. A year ago, the average 30-year rate was 4.14 per cent and the 15-year was 3.23 per cent.


OPEC ministers will likely keep output target on hold

VIENNA (AP) — The price of crude remains too low for most OPEC member nations. But with the 12-nation cartel’s control of supply and demand slipping, its oil ministers may have little choice this week but to sit back and do nothing.

Ministers of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries meet in Vienna Friday against a backdrop of oil prices that are off the lows of January — but still nearly 50 per cent less than peaks of $115 a barrel a year ago for some grades.

Past OPEC solutions were simple — cut production and drive prices upward.


US regulators warn: Ads for reverse mortgages can mislead

WASHINGTON (AP) — We’ve seen the TV ad pitches from celebrities like “The Fonz” Henry Winkler and actor and ex-senator Fred Thompson, touting the benefits of reverse mortgages for older homeowners.

Now U.S. regulators are warning: Don’t be fooled. Many ads don’t tell the whole story about reverse mortgages.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said Thursday that a study it conducted with older homeowners found they were given the false impression by the ads that reverse mortgages are a government benefit and ensure consumers can stay in their homes for the rest of their lives.


EPA: No widespread harm to drinking water from fracking

WASHINGTON (AP) — Hydraulic fracturing to drill for oil and natural gas has not caused widespread harm to drinking water in the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency said Thursday in a report that also warned of potential contamination of water supplies if safeguards are not maintained.

A draft study issued by the agency found specific instances where poorly constructed drilling wells or improper wastewater management affected drinking water, but said the number of cases was small compared to the large number of wells that use hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking.


By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 170.69 points, or 0.9 per cent, to 17,905.58. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index lost 18.23 points, or 0.9 per cent, to finish at 2,095.84. The Nasdaq composite lost 40.11 points, or 0.8 per cent, to 5,059.12.

Benchmark U.S. crude fell $1.64 to close at $58.00 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oil used by many U.S. refineries, fell $1.77 to close at $62.03 in London. Wholesale gasoline fell 6.4 cents to close at $1.981 a gallon. Heating oil fell 4.8 cents to close at $1.844 a gallon. Natural gas fell 0.8 cents to close at $2.626 per 1,000 cubic feet.