Business Highlights


British chaos means interest rates will stay low for longer

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Economists say the British vote to leave the European Union means central banks are likely to have to keep their stimulus efforts in place longer. This is what helped keep the global economy afloat in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis but some may even have to unveil new stimulus or rate cuts.

That means savers will suffer longer with zero returns on their accounts. Meanwhile home buyers, companies and governments will keep on borrowing cheaply.


Fed gives OK to 30 banks to up dividends, buy back shares

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve has given the green light to many major banks in the U.S. to raise dividends and buy back shares, judging them to have a sturdy enough to withstand a major economic downturn.

The “stress tests” are an annual check-up of the biggest financial institutions in the U.S.

Of the 33 that were tested, 30 banks were allowed to raise dividends or repurchase shares. They include JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citibank and Wells Fargo, the four biggest U.S. banks.


US stocks claw back half of ground lost post-British vote

NEW YORK (AP) — Banks and other financial companies led another broad surge in U.S. stocks Wednesday, turning the Dow Jones industrial average and the Standard & Poor’s 500 index slightly positive for the year.

It was the second rally in two days for the stock market, which had been rattled since Friday by Britain’s vote to leave the European Union. Those worries eased Wednesday as traders shifted money back into stocks. The gains over Tuesday and Wednesday erased more than half of the losses U.S. markets suffered in the two-day slide that kicked off on Friday.


US consumer spending posts healthy gain in May

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans increased their spending in May for the second straight month and delivering good news for economic growth.

The Commerce Department said Wednesday that consumer spending increased 0.4 per cent in May on top of a 1.1 per cent surge in April.

The overall numbers underscore that consumer spending, which accounts for about 70 per cent of U.S. economic activity, picked up in the spring after getting off to a slow start in 2016.


Pending US home sales slumped in May amid supply shortage

WASHINGTON (AP) — Fewer Americans signed contracts to buy homes in May, with the year-over-year pace of pending sales sliding for the first time in nearly two years.

The National Association of Realtors said Wednesday that its seasonally adjusted pending home sales index fell 3.7 per cent last month to 110.8. Overall home sales have steadily improved over the past year but buyers are facing a shortage of available homes that might have curtailed pending sales.

Pending sales contracts are a barometer of future purchases. A sale is typically completed a month or two after a contract is signed. May’s decline suggests that completed home sales could slow in July or August.


GE Capital wins approval to drop ‘too big to fail’ label

NEW YORK (AP) — GE Capital is no longer “too big to fail.”

The financing unit of General Electric Co. won approval from federal regulators Tuesday to drop its designation as a “systematically important financial institution,” a title that comes with added scrutiny and stricter rules.

The label, handed out in the wake of the financial crisis, is given to companies that the U.S. regulator deems so large that their failure could threaten the entire economy.

GE was given the label three years ago but has been pushing to drop it since it has sold many assets.


Ahead of Amazon Prime Day, Wal-Mart tries to move in

NEW YORK (AP) — Wal-Mart is trying to get a jump on Amazon’s second annual sales bonanza.

The world’s largest retailer is offering a free 30-day trial on its two-day unlimited shipping service, and an extra month free for paying members, as it looks to sharpen its attack against the online leader. It will also offer discounts on an array of products that will ramp up as July goes by.

Wal-Mart’s moves come as Amazon is expected to launch for the second year a sales bonanza called Prime Day, which it touts as bigger than “Black Friday,”


General Mills’ 4th-quarter results beat expectations

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — General Mills’ fiscal fourth-quarter results beat analysts’ expectations as the packaged food company worked on slashing costs and refreshing its product lineup amid struggling sales.

The company also boosted its quarterly dividend by 4 per cent.

For the period ended May 29, the maker of Cheerios cereal, Yoplait yogurt and Progresso soups said net sales fell 9 per cent to $3.93 billion. The decline reflected a drop in volume, and to a lesser degree, unfavourable foreign exchange rates. It earned $379.6 million, or 62 cents per share for the quarter.


Facebook’s latest news feed tweak: This time, it’s personal

NEW YORK (AP) — Facebook has once again tweaked the formula it uses to decide what people will see in their news feed — and this time, it’s personal.

The social media giant says it updated the news feed so that people will see more posts from their friends and family and not, say, the by New York Times or Buzzfeed.

To try to keep people glued to Facebook, it regularly updates the algorithm that decides what posts users see. With the latest update, the company says it’s focusing on what Facebook is for — connecting with people you know.


Uber software tracks drivers for high speed, sudden stops

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Using smartphone sensors to peek over its drivers’ shoulders, Uber is promising to keep a closer eye on their behaviour — while discouraging speeding or slamming on the brakes.

The global ride-hailing company on Wednesday announced an extensive test of new software that aims to increase safety by analyzing data from individual drivers and sending them daily reports about things like sudden acceleration, braking and whether they’re holding their phones when they drive.

Uber, which is requiring drivers in several cities to participate, is eager to show that it’s making safety a priority at a time when some jurisdictions are mulling whether to impose stricter oversight on ride-hailing businesses.


The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 284.96 points, or 1.6 per cent, to 17,694.68. The Standard & Poor’s 500 gained 34.68 points, or 1.7 per cent, to 2,070.77. The Nasdaq composite added 87.38 points, or 1.9 per cent, to 4,779.25.

Benchmark U.S. crude surged $2.03, or 4.2 per cent, to close at $49.88 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, also rose $2.03, or 4.2 per cent, to close at $50.61 a barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline rose 1.5 cents to $1.52 a gallon. Heating oil added 6 cents to $1.53 a gallon. Natural gas fell 3 cents to $2.86 per 1,000 cubic feet.