Business Highlights


Retail gets slammed as stocks have second-worst week of year

NEW YORK (AP) — The stock market slumped to its second-biggest weekly loss of the year Friday, breaking six consecutive weeks of gains. Fears that the holiday shopping season will be a dud tanked retail stocks.

Retailers ranging from department stores to dollar stores plunged after Nordstrom posted disappointing third-quarter results, just as Macy’s had done earlier this week.

The price of oil continued to slide on evidence that global supplies are continuing to rise. The dollar could get even stronger, further pressuring oil and other commodities and affecting mining and energy companies.


Big deal momentum may carry into 2016 for health care

2015 has become the year of the megadeal, with $2 trillion in buyouts since January. It has been fueled by free money in a zero-interest rate environment, but with the Fed appearing increasingly keen on hiking rates, that party may be coming to an end.

That is, unless you’re in health care.

Almost one out of every four dollars in takeovers this year involved a company in health care, and the size of those deals is immense. Compared with five years ago the total value of health care mergers and acquisitions in the United States has more than tripled, according to the data firm Dealogic.


Consumers behind accelerated shift to cage-free eggs in US

The $10 billion egg industry is figuring out how to overhaul a deeply entrenched, profitable model of raising chickens in cages smaller than an 8 1/2-by-11-inch sheet of paper, despite decades of successful growth.

Yet, it’s not completely clear what’s best for the chickens themselves — animals that, when uncaged but still cooped up, can be aggressive and sometimes prone to cannibalism or injuring themselves.

It’s one of the largest-scale examples of agribusiness adapting to consumers’ growing sensitivities and anxieties over how their food is treated before it is on their plates and in their stomachs.


Despite tail winds, eurozone economy loses momentum

LONDON (AP) — Without the consumer, the eurozone economy would have struggled to grow at all in the third quarter.

Official figures on Friday showed the 19-country eurozone only expanded 0.3 per cent in the July-September period from the previous quarter. That was below market expectations and piles further pressure on the European Central Bank to offer more stimulus.

Since emerging from its longest-ever recession over two years ago, the eurozone has been stuck in a narrow growth range. A slowdown in emerging markets, notably China, is hurting trade, leaving consumer spending as the main pillar of growth.


US retail sales crawl upward in Oct., led by online shopping

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans ramped up their online shopping and restaurant spending in October, but barely-there inflation kept overall retail sales growth muted.

The Commerce Department said Friday that retail sales rose a seasonally adjusted 0.1 per cent last month, after being unchanged in September and August. Over the past 12 months, sales have risen 1.7 per cent. Lower gasoline costs and meagre inflation have downplayed the extent of consumer spending, as the retail sales report is not adjusted for price changes.

The U.S. economy has increasingly relied on consumers to propel growth.


New produce safety rules aim to prevent illness outbreaks

WASHINGTON (AP) — Long-awaited rules issued by the Food and Drug Administration Friday are designed to help prevent large-scale, deadly outbreaks of foodborne illness like those linked to fresh spinach, cantaloupes, cucumbers and other foods over the last decade.

That means making sure workers are trained to wash their hands, irrigation water is monitored for harmful bacteria and animals do not leave droppings in fields.

The rules will phase in over the next several years and give the FDA sweeping new oversight over how food is grown on farms.


Bruce Dayton, governor’s father and Target champion, dies

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Bruce Dayton, the father of Minnesota’s governor and a key figure in building his family’s company into the massive retailing business that became Target Corp., has died. He was 97.

Dayton, who also donated tens of millions of dollars in gifts and endowments to the Minneapolis Institute of Art, died at his home surrounded by family on Friday, according to the governor’s spokesman, Matt Swenson.

Dayton was the father of Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton and the last survivor of five brothers — all grandsons of The Dayton Company founder George Draper Dayton — who expanded the company nationally from a single department store in downtown Minneapolis.


Perrigo to go it alone; shareholders reject $26B Mylan bid

Shareholders of the drugmaker Perrigo shut the door on a $26-billion hostile takeover bid from Mylan.

Mylan acknowledged that its cash-and-stock offer failed to garner enough interest from Perrigo shareholders by a Friday deadline.

About 40 per cent of Perrigo shares had been tendered, well short of the more than 50 per cent required to advance its takeover, the generic drugmaker said.


Police stop Google self-driving car for going too slowly

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (AP) — A car built by Google that drives itself around city streets had a brush with the law for driving too slowly.

A police officer in the tech giant’s Silicon Valley hometown pulled over the prototype car Thursday because it was going a traffic-tying 24 mph in a 35 mph zone.

The officer spoke with the person in the driver’s seat but issued no citation, according to the Mountain View Police Department. Though the car was driving itself, state law requires a person to be able to intervene when the technology is tested on public roads.

The bubble-shaped prototype has two seats. Its top speed is 25 mph.


Air France firing 4 employees after shirt-ripping protest

PARIS (AP) — Air France is firing four employees and suspending 11 others after a union protest over job cuts turned violent and left two executives fleeing over a fence with their shirts ripped off.

An internal Air France document obtained by The Associated Press says the decision comes after weeks of investigation. It says the four are being fired for “physical aggression” and 11 suspended for two weeks without pay for damaging company property.

The Oct. 5 violence shocked many even in protest-prone France, and embarrassed the Socialist government, Air France’s biggest shareholder.


JC Penney reports loss, sales growth, but shares skid

PLANO, Texas (AP) — J.C. Penny reported stronger-than-expected sales for the third-quarter, but the department store operator’s failure to raise its forecast for the year appeared to add to worries that upcoming holiday shopping season could turn out to be a dud for retailers.

The company’s results follow disappointing sales this week from Macy’s and Nordstrom, which both cut their outlooks for the year citing softer sales trends. Macy’s blamed its sales decline in the third quarter partly on warmer than normal weather, which it said hurt sales of items like coats and boots.


The Dow Jones industrial average fell 202.83 points, or 1.2 per cent, to 17,245.24. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index gave up 22.93 points, or 1.1 per cent, to 2,023.04. The Nasdaq composite index slipped 77.20 points, or 1.5 per cent, to 4,927.88.

U.S. crude slumped $1.01, or 2.4 per cent, to $40.74 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, lost 45 cents, or 1 per cent, to $43.61 a barrel in London. In other energy trading, heating oil fell 2.5 cents to $1.381 a gallon. Wholesale gasoline dipped 3.4 cents to $1.239 a gallon. Natural gas rose 10.1 cents to $2.361 per 1,000 cubic feet.