Business Highlights


The Big Uh-Oh: Global economy shaky and cavalry may not come

WASHINGTON (AP) — Eight years after the financial crisis, the world is coming to grips with an unpleasant realization: serious weaknesses still plague the global economy, and emergency help may not be on the way.

Sinking stock prices, flat inflation, and the bizarre phenomenon of negative interest rates have coupled with a downturn in emerging markets to raise worries that the economy is being stalked by threats that central banks may struggle to cope with. Meanwhile, commercial banks are again a source of concern, especially in Europe.


Russia, Saudis tentatively offer to freeze oil output levels

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Oil powerhouses Russia and Saudi Arabia joined Qatar and Venezuela in pledging Tuesday to cap their crude output if other producers do the same, aiming to halt a slide that has pushed oil prices to their lowest point in more than a decade.

The decision followed an unexpected closed-door meeting involving the four countries in the Qatari capital, Doha, and reflects growing concern among big producers about the effects the slump poses to their domestic economies.

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said after the meeting that the four countries would be ready to cap production if others join.


US homebuilder sentiment slips in February

U.S. homebuilders are feeling less confident about their sales prospects ahead of the spring home-selling season, though they remain positive overall that the housing market will continue to improve this year.

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index released Tuesday slipped to 58 this month, down three points from a revised reading of 61 in January.

The index had been hovering in the low 60s since June. Readings above 50 indicate more builders view sales conditions as good, rather than poor.


GM recalls 200,000 cars for Takata air bag trouble

DETROIT (AP) — General Motors is recalling about 200,000 Saab and Saturn cars in the U.S. and Canada to replace the Takata driver’s air bag inflators. The move is part of a broader recall of about 5.4 million vehicles announced last month by U.S. safety regulators.

Takata inflators can explode with too much force in a crash and hurl metal shrapnel into drivers and passengers. At least 10 people have died worldwide and 139 have been hurt due to the problem.


ADT being purchased by Apollo Global for $6.94 billion

NEW YORK (AP) — Home security services company ADT has agreed to be purchased by affiliates of Apollo Global Management for about $6.94 billion.

ADT shareholders will receive $42 per share. That’s a 56 per cent increase from Friday’s closing price of $26.87.

The companies said that ADT will be merged with a subsidiary of Prime Security Services Borrower LLC, which is also owned by Apollo. The combined business will operate primarily under the ADT brand and be based in Boca Raton, Florida.


Stryker buying Physio-Control for $1.28 billion

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) — Medical technology company Stryker is buying Physio-Control International Inc. for $1.28 billion, which will help expand its product offerings and broaden its global reach.

Privately held Physio-Control develops, makes and markets monitors/defibrillators, automated external defibrillators, CPR-assist devices and data management and support services. The company had fiscal 2015 sales of $503 million.

The transaction is expected to close at the start of the second quarter.


Buffett’s firm releases details of annual meeting broadcast

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Anyone who wants to watch Warren Buffett dispense advice at Berkshire Hathaway’s annual meeting without making the pilgrimage to Omaha this spring can follow it online for the first time ever.

Berkshire and Yahoo said Tuesday that Yahoo Finance would broadcast the meeting, which is scheduled for April 30.

Last year, more than 40,000 people from around the globe filled an Omaha arena and several overflow rooms for the meeting. The heart of the meeting is when Buffett and his Vice Chairman Charlie Munger spend several hours answering questions from shareholders and a panel of reporters and analysts.


US, Cuba sign deal on commercial flights

HAVANA (AP) — The United States and Cuba signed a deal Tuesday restoring commercial air traffic for the first time in five decades, allowing dozens of new daily flights to bring hundreds of thousands more American travellers a year to the island as early as this fall.

The U.S. Department of Transportation has now opened bidding by American air carriers on as many as 110 U.S.-Cuba flights a day — more than five times the current number. All flights operating between the two countries today are charters.

Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro announced in late 2014 that they would begin normalizing ties after a half-century of Cold War opposition.


Daimler CEO gets contract extended after record profits

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Car, truck and bus maker Daimler AG has given CEO Dieter Zetsche a three-year extension of his contract, a few days after the company reported record annual profits.

Zetsche’s contract would have run out at the end of this year but will now run through the end of 2019. The extension announced Tuesday was expected because board chairman Manfred Bischoff had already said last year that directors wanted to keep Zetsche on.

Zetsche, 62, combines the position of overall CEO with running the company’s flagship Mercedes-Benz luxury car business, the main pillar of its profits.


GAO upholds Northrop Grumman bomber contract over protests

Federal auditors rejected a protest by Boeing and Lockheed Martin and upheld an Air Force decision to award a lucrative new bomber contract to Northrop Grumman Corp.

The Government Accountability Office, a nonpartisan congressional agency that audits federal programs, said Tuesday that the Air Force’s review of bomber bids was reasonable and it did not see a reason to overturn the contract.

A Boeing Co. spokesman said the company will review the GAO decision before deciding on its next step. It could protest to the federal claims court in Washington. Lockheed Martin Corp. declined to comment.


Alibaba buys nearly 33 million shares of Groupon

NEW YORK (AP) — Alibaba has bought nearly 33 million shares of online daily deal service Groupon.

The purchase gives the Chinese e-commerce powerhouse about a 5.6 per cent stake in Groupon. Alibaba disclosed the purchase in a regulatory filing on Friday.

Subsequently, Groupon Inc.’s stock jumped sharply in trading Tuesday.

The news comes shortly after Groupon reported a fourth-quarter adjusted profit and revenue that beat analysts’ expectations.


The Dow Jones industrial average gained 222.57 points, or 1.4 per cent, to 16,196.41. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index added 30.80 points, or 1.7 per cent, to 1,895.58. The Nasdaq composite index rose 98.44 points, or 2.3 per cent, to 4,435.96.

U.S. crude lost 40 cents, or 1.4 per cent, to $29.04 a barrel in New York. It jumped 12 per cent Friday, its biggest gain in years. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, gave up $1.21, or 3.6 per cent, to $32.18 a barrel in London.

Wholesale gasoline fell 7.2 cents, or 6.9 per cent, to 97.1 cents a gallon. Heating oil fell 4.2 cents, or 4 per cent, to $1.027 a gallon. Natural gas slid 6.3 cents, or 3.2 per cent, to $1.903 per 1,000 cubic feet.