Business Highlights


Shipping mania: rushing to deliver millions of holiday gifts

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — As more gift-givers shop online, there are more packages to ship.

Online sales now account for 10 per cent of all shopping and 15 per cent during the holidays, according to research firm Forrester. That leaves FedEx and UPS with a combined 947 million packages to deliver between Black Friday and Christmas Eve — up 8 per cent from last holiday season’s forecasts.


AP Investigation: US power grid vulnerable to foreign hacks

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — About a dozen times in the last decade, sophisticated foreign hackers have gained enough remote access to control the operations of power plants across the U.S., according to top experts who spoke only on condition of anonymity.

The public almost never learns the details about these types of attacks. Information about the government’s response is often protected and many are never even reported to the government.

So many attackers have stowed away in the largely investor-owned systems that run the U.S. electric grid that experts say they likely have the capability to strike at will.


KaloBios fires embattled pharmaceutical executive Shkreli

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — In barely 24 hours, Martin Shkreli went from an egotistical pharmaceutical boy wonder to unemployed and facing securities fraud charges that could land him in prison for years.

KaloBios Pharmaceuticals, one of Shkreli’s companies, said Monday that it terminated him as its CEO Thursday and that he has resigned from its board of directors. That was the day that Shkreli, a 32-year-old former hedge fund manager, was arrested in New York and charged with securities fraud and conspiracy related to a company he previously ran.

By the time Shkreli made bail, Turing Pharmaceuticals Inc., which he had founded and ran, announced he had resigned as the CEO.


CDC reports more recent outbreak of E. coli cases

NEW YORK (AP) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it is investigating more recent cases of E. coli cases linked to Chipotle, and that it does not know yet if they are linked to a larger outbreak that began in October.

So far, the agency says five people have been reported sick in the new outbreak, including one in Kansas, one in North Dakota and three in Oklahoma. It said Monday those illnesses started between Nov. 18 and Nov. 26, and that all five people said they ate at a Chipotle Mexican Grill the week before they got sick.


Staples says FTC rejected updated offer of Office Depot

NEW YORK (AP) — Federal regulators rejected an offer from Staples to sell $1.25 billion in contracts, an attempt on the part of the office supply retailer to ease monopoly fears as it tries to acquire rival Office Depot.

The Federal Trade Commission sought to block the deal earlier this month believing that a tie up between the last of the major retailers in the sector would throttle competition. Regulators said that competition between the two was crucial to keep prices fair for those industries that must acquire pens, paper and other supplies.


US regulators slap BMW with $40M fine for safety violations

DETROIT (AP) — U.S. safety regulators have slapped German automaker BMW AG with a $40 million penalty for moving too slowly to fix Mini brand cars that failed federal crash tests.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also said Monday BMW failed to send the agency accurate recall information.

According to a consent order signed by the company, BMW must pay $10 million in cash and spend $10 million on steps to get into compliance. Another $20 million in fines must be paid if BMW doesn’t comply or commits other safety violations.

It’s the second fine against BMW in three years for similar problems. The agency fined BMW $3 million in 2012.


Icahn boosts offer to buy Pep Boys

NEW YORK (AP) — Pep Boys on Monday called a revised offer from billionaire Carl Icahn a “superior” bid, just days after the auto parts seller accepted a sweetened deal from tire company Bridgestone.

Icahn Enterprises offered $16.50 for each share of Pep Boys on Friday, in a deal worth about $893 million. Icahn Enterprises previous offered $15.50 per share, and Bridgestone matched that offer shortly after.

Pep Boys said Monday that it now prefers to take the offer from Icahn Enterprises and that Tokyo’s Bridgestone Corp. has until Wednesday to up its bid.


Ericsson, Apple to develop 5G phones and end litigation

HELSINKI (AP) — Swedish telecoms firm Ericsson AB has inked a 7-year deal with Apple Inc. that brings an end to outstanding mutual patent litigations between the two and paves the way for their joint-development of the next generation of super-fast phones.

Ericsson, the world’s largest wireless equipment maker, did not reveal terms of the deal Monday but said it includes a cross-license that covers patents owned by both companies. Apple will make an initial payment to Ericsson, followed by royalties.


Toshiba to cut jobs in consumer electronics amid record loss

TOKYO (AP) — Toshiba plans to cut 7,800 jobs, mostly in its consumer-electronics business, as it reorganizes in the face of projected record losses for the current fiscal year.

The Japanese conglomerate has been struggling with the aftermath of a major accounting scandal, compounded by troubles in nuclear energy and losses in the business that makes personal computers, TVs and consumer appliances.

The job cuts announced Monday will affect about 30 per cent of the consumer-electronics business and represent about 3 per cent of Toshiba’s overall employees.


Chinese leaders promise lower business costs to boost growth

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese leaders promised Monday to promote economic growth by cutting business costs and reducing surplus production capacity in some industries as they try to reverse an unexpectedly sharp downturn.

After an annual planning meeting, Communist Party leaders also promised to reduce financial risks and rein in rising debt that has prompted concern about possible threats to China’s financial system.

The leadership under President Xi Jinping is in the midst of a multiyear effort to nurture slower, more sustainable growth based on domestic consumption instead of trade and investment.


Bangladesh moves toward murder trial in Rana Plaza collapse

NEW DELHI (AP) — A court in Bangladesh’s capital accepted murder charges Monday against 41 people including the owner of the Rana Plaza building that collapsed in 2013 and highlighted grim conditions in the country’s garment industry.

More than 1,100 people, mostly garment factory workers, died when the illegally built complex collapsed in Bangladesh’s worst industrial disaster.

The maximum penalty for someone convicted of murder is a death sentence, while the maximum punishment for culpable homicide is seven years in jail.


The Dow Jones industrial average rose 123.07 points, or 0.7 per cent, to 17,251.62. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index added 15.60 points, or 0.8 per cent, to 2,021.15. The Nasdaq composite rose 45.84 points, or 0.9 per cent, to 4,968.92.

Crude oil fell 25 cents, or 0.7 per cent, to $35.81 a barrel. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, was down 53 cents, or 1.4 per cent, to $36.35 a barrel. In other energy trading, heating oil fell a penny to $1.13 a gallon, wholesale gasoline fell 5 cents to $1.22 a gallon and natural gas jumped 14 cents to $1.91 per 1,000 cubic feet.