Business Highlights


From Australia to Zambia, slowing China economy causes pain

From Australia to Zambia, Chile to Indonesia, the pain of China’s sharp economic slowdown is being felt in the form of depressed commodity prices, elevated unemployment and shrunken home prices in towns that once thrived from supplying materials to Chinese factories.

China’s deceleration isn’t surprising. The extent of the collateral damage is. And it’s raising fears of a global recession.

Noting that the harm from China’s woes has been worse than expected, the International Monetary Fund has downgraded its outlook for worldwide growth this year to 3.1 per cent, which would be the slowest since the recession year of 2009.


Rite Aid adds prescription analysis to genetic test lineup

Rite Aid is giving patients a chance to peek over their doctor’s shoulder with genetic tests that help determine the effectiveness of some prescriptions.

The drugstore chain said Thursday that it is selling Harmonyx testing kits at nearly all of its stores. The kits cost between $49 and $89 without a prescription, and customers can use them to learn more about the effectiveness of medicines for cardiac conditions, cholesterol and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

The kits delve into a growing area of medical care, with doctors using genetic analysis more in specialties like cardiology and oncology to make sure that what they prescribe is a good fit for their patients.


US employers advertise more job openings in September

WASHINGTON (AP) — Employers advertised more job openings in September but hiring was essentially unchanged.

Job openings rose 2.8 per cent to 5.53 million in September, up from 5.38 million in August, the Labor Department said Thursday. Hiring slipped to 5.05 million from 5.08 million the prior month.

The report indicates a relatively healthy U.S. job market that is weathering the pressures of slower growth in China, a struggling European economy and a stronger dollar crimping exports. Thursday’s report also suggests that wages could begin rising at a faster pace because employers are struggling to find workers, obligating them to pay better salaries to attract talent.


Yellen says research needed on unconventional policy tools

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen is stressing the need to review the unconventional monetary policies that central banks around the world deployed in response to the 2008 global financial crisis.

She said Thursday that the post-crisis period offers policymakers an opportunity to assess the effectiveness of the tools and better understand the impact of new regulation.


Applications for US jobless aid stay near historic lows

WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of people seeking unemployment aid was unchanged last week, a sign that most businesses are reluctant to cut jobs.

The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly applications for jobless benefits remained at a seasonally adjusted 276,000, the same as the previous week. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, rose 5,000 to 267,750.

Applications are a proxy for layoffs. Just three weeks ago, the average dropped to its lowest level since December 1973. That suggests employers are confident the economy will continue to expand and see little reason to let go of their staffs.


A November stock slide continues as oil, metals prices fall

NEW YORK (AP) — A deepening slump in prices for oil, metals and other commodities sent stock prices lower on Thursday.

Major market indexes opened lower and the selling accelerated as the day wore on. The drop in oil and metals prices hurt mining, metals and energy stocks. Stocks began sliding early this month and have returned some of the gains from a powerful rally in October.


VW offers some employees amnesty for information on cheating

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Volkswagen is telling non-managerial employees they can come forward with information about how the company cheated on U.S. emissions tests and they won’t be fired.

In a move aimed at getting to the bottom of the scandal more quickly, Volkswagen brand manager Herbert Diess told staff in a letter that the company won’t seek damages or fire employees for what they might reveal. Workers could be transferred to other duties, however, and the company stressed it cannot get anyone off the hook for ongoing criminal probes.


KFC to deliver buckets of fried chicken on demand

NEW YORK (AP) — KFC said it will start delivering its buckets of fried chicken to customers in two U.S. cities.

It will be the first time the chicken chain has delivered in the United States. Starting Thursday, people in Los Angeles and San Francisco will be able to have food delivered. KFC said it expects to expand the delivery service into Houston by the end of this year. More cities may come later.

KFC is working with online delivery company DoorDash to deliver; customers will have to make orders through DoorDash’s app or website.


Wal-Mart syncs Black Friday deals online and in store

NEW YORK (AP) — Wal-Mart Stores says it is offering most of the same Black Friday “doorbuster” deals online and in stores for the first time and giving online shoppers an early jump on the sales.

The world’s largest retailer is heading into the holiday season with a turnaround plan after being battered by the economy and tough competition.

The busy shopping day after Thanksgiving Day known as “Black Friday” has been encroaching on the holiday in recent years. But this year Wal-Mart Stores is giving those who would rather shop on their couch more access to Black Friday sales. About 96 per cent of the deals offered the holiday will be offered both online and in stores.


Diners will have plenty to gobble despite worries about turkey and pumpkin supplies

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Bird flu took a bite out of the turkey supply. Heavy rain washed out the pumpkin crop. But Thanksgiving groceries likely won’t cost Americans much more than last year, and nobody should have to miss gobbling down their favourite holiday foods.

The holiday season always generates stories about some items being in short supply or dramatically pricier. But markets have a way of balancing themselves out, particularly around this meal.

So even though bird flu wiped out 8 million turkeys — driving production down and wholesale prices up — you’re in no danger missing out. These birds don’t play by the usual rules of supply and demand.


Average US rate on 30-year mortgage jumps to 3.98 per cent

WASHINGTON (AP) — Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates this week rose sharply for a second straight week as expectations grew that the Federal Reserve may soon raise its key short-term interest rate.

Mortgage giant Freddie Mac said Thursday the average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage jumped to 3.98 per cent from 3.87 per cent a week earlier. IT was the highest level for the 30-year rate since July. The rate on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages climbed to 3.20 per cent from 3.09 per cent.

A year ago, the average 30-year mortgage rate was 4.01 per cent, while the rate for 15-year loans was 3.20 per cent.


By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average sank 254.15 points, or 1.4 per cent, to close at 17,448.07. The Standard & Poor’s 500 lost 29.03 points, or 1.4 per cent, to 2,045.97. The Nasdaq composite index fell 61.94 points, or 1.2 per cent, to 5,005.08.

U.S. benchmark crude fell $1.18, or 2.7 per cent, to $41.75 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, lost $1.75, or 3.8 per cent, to $44.06 a barrel in London. Heating oil fell 4.1 cents to $1.407 a gallon. Wholesale gasoline shed 5.6 cents to $1.273 a gallon. Natural gas dipped 0.3 cents to $2.26 per 1,000 cubic feet.