Business Highlights


US employers showing confidence in economy

WASHINGTON (AP) — Employers last month delivered a vote of confidence in the U.S. economy.

They added 280,000 jobs — a surprisingly robust total at a time when consumers are hesitant to spend and the economy appears less than fully healthy. Some key industries, from energy to manufacturing, have been struggling. And economic troubles overseas have put investors on edge.

Yet Friday’s report from the Labor Department showed that employers seem confident that the economy is regaining its footing after shrinking at the start of the year and that their customer demand will accelerate.


Safety agency admits flaws, starts reforms after GM case

DETROIT (AP) — The U.S. government’s auto safety agency acknowledged Friday that staffers’ failure to understand technology and lack of skepticism prevented them from rooting out a deadly problem with General Motors ignition switches for more than a decade.

The mea culpa came Friday as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration outlined actions designed to make itself more aggressive in finding and solving safety problems among the 240 million cars on U.S. roadways. It’s the first time the agency has admitted fault in failing to discover the switch problem and link it to a series of fatal accidents, although regulators still blame the automaker for hiding the defect.


Wal-Mart keeps it all in the family, chair passed to Penner

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Wal-Mart is passing the chairmanship of the world’s largest retailer from the eldest son of late founder Sam Walton to a third generation.

The company said that board Chairman Rob Walton will step down and be succeeded by Vice Chairman Greg Penner, who is his son-in-law.

The change took effect at the end of the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting Friday and came despite pressures from labour-backed worker groups to name an independent chairman. The calls for independent leadership mounted in the wake of allegations of bribery in Mexico and other countries Wal-Mart operates in that came to surface in spring 2012.


Money laundering investigation stymied by China, Italy says

FLORENCE, Italy (AP) — Police in Florence wondered where all the money was going. Italy’s economy was heading off a cliff, but its Chinatowns were booming. Luxury cars snaked past Chinese betting parlours and garment factories that hummed into the night. Chinese immigrants were buying up Italian coffee bars and real estate. But their prosperity was not reflected in local tax records.

Italy’s financial police discovered that more than 4.5 billion euros ($4.9 billion) — the proceeds of counterfeiting, prostitution, labour exploitation and tax evasion — had been smuggled out of Italy to China in less than four years using a money-transfer service. Nearly half that money was funneled through one of China’s largest state banks, the Bank of China.


Greek leader: cannot consent to ‘irrational’ proposals

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece cannot accept the “irrational” proposal made this week by its bailout creditors, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras told an emergency Parliament session Friday, adding that any deal must also include some lightening of the country’s crushing debt load.

Despite a significant writedown in 2012, Greece’s debt remains huge, at nearly 180 per cent of annual output. Bailout creditors had initially promised further respite, but details on their latest proposal leaked by Athens made no mention of debt lightening.


US consumer borrowing up $20.5 billion in April

WASHINGTON (AP) — Consumer borrowing surged again in April, helped by the largest gain in credit card borrowing in a year.

Consumer borrowing expanded by $20.5 billion in April, the Federal Reserve reported Friday. That was down only slightly from a gain of $21.3 billion in March which was the biggest increase in eight months. The strong gains pushed consumer credit to a fresh record of $3.38 trillion.

Borrowing in the category that includes credit cards jumped by $8.6 billion, the largest rise in 12 months. Borrowing in the category that covers auto and student loans advanced a solid $11.9 billion, after an even bigger $16.5 billion increase in March.


OPEC keeps oil output target on hold, predicts low prices

VIENNA (AP) — OPEC decided to keep its oil output target on hold Friday and predicted prices would remain low for the foreseeable future — good news for both for oil-hungry international industries and consumers at the gas pump.

The cartel said its output level would remain at 30 million barrels a day despite the fact that prices were still low compared with a year ago. It left it to member states to restrain any overproduction, an acknowledgment of the cartel’s inability to enforce its own limits as it struggles to control world supply and prices.


Fed Chair Yellen won’t provide some documents in leak probe

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen is balking at turning over some of the documents ordered by a key House lawmaker in his investigation of a possible leak of market-sensitive information.

Yellen has told Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, who heads the House Financial Services Committee, that she can’t provide some documents sought by his subpoena because doing so could jeopardize a criminal investigation by the Justice Department and the Fed’s watchdog inspector general. Yellen said the inspector general has told the Fed that the documents in question — which include records related to an earlier internal review by the Fed’s general counsel — should not be provided.


FDA weighs approval of first-in-class cholesterol drug

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal health regulators said Friday that a highly-anticipated, experimental drug from Sanofi lowers bad cholesterol more than older drugs. But officials have questions about whether to approve the drug based on that measure alone or wait for additional study results.

The Food and Drug Administration posted its review of Sanofi’s Praluent ahead of a meeting next week to consider the drug’s approval. Praluent is the first in a new class of cholesterol-lowering biotech drugs to come before the FDA. The drugs are considered the first major advance in lowering bad, or LDL, cholesterol since the introduction of blockbuster statin drugs in the late 1980s.


Computer Sciences paying $190M to settle SEC fraud charges

WASHINGTON (AP) — Computer Sciences Corp. is paying a $190 million penalty and a former CEO is returning $3.7 million in compensation to resolve federal regulators’ charges of accounting fraud involving an important foreign contract.

The Securities and Exchange Commission announced the settlement Friday with the big information technology company. Computer Sciences, based in Falls Church, Virginia, neither admitted nor denied wrongdoing in the settlement of civil charges.


Ex-BP exec David Rainey not guilty of lying in oil spill

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A federal jury found a former BP executive not guilty Friday of making false statements to investigators in connection with the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Prosecutors said David Rainey, in the early days of the spill, had manipulated calculations to match a far-too-low government estimate of the amount of oil spewing into the Gulf following the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig. He was charged with lying about having done so during a 2011 interview with federal investigators. However, defence attorneys said Rainey’s figures were made honestly and that he had no reason to lie.


Giant hack may be first step in pursuit of bigger US secrets

WASHINGTON (AP) — The government is worried that China-based hackers who raided more than 4 million federal employment files will use their loot to pry into more-secure computers and plunder secrets about the U.S. military, economic strategy or foreign relations.

Federal officials said Friday the cyberattack appeared to have originated in China, but they didn’t point fingers directly at the Chinese government. The Chinese said any such accusation would be “irresponsible and unscientific.”

A spokesman for the Director of National Intelligence declined to discuss whether there was evidence against China or whether intelligence agency employees were among those whose information was compromised.


By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 56.12 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 17,849.46. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index lost 3.01 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 2,092.83. The Nasdaq edged up 9.33 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 5,068.46.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose $1.13 to close at $59.13 a barrel in New York. Oil finished the week down 1 per cent. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oil used by many U.S. refineries, rose $1.28 to close at $63.31 in London. Wholesale gasoline rose 4.9 cents to close at $2.030 a gallon. Heating oil rose 2.6 cents to close at $1.870 a gallon. Natural gas fell 3.6 cents to close at $2.590 per 1,000 cubic feet.