Business Highlights


Dow Chemical and DuPont say shareholders approved merger

NEW YORK (AP) — Shareholders for agriculture and chemicals companies DuPont and Dow Chemical have approved their merger. After it’s complete, the century-old companies plan to break up into three parts.

The companies held meetings where shareholders voted on the deal. Both Dow and DuPont were pushed by activist investors to break up or find other ways to revitalize their businesses. They agreed to merge in December in an all-stock deal valued at about $62 billion.

They expect the combination to be official by the end of 2016, but regulators will still have to approve it.


A technology surge tips stock indexes to new highs

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks took another modest step further into record territory Wednesday after several companies reported profits that were stronger than expected, if not strong. Technology stocks led the way following an encouraging report from Microsoft.

Both the Standard & Poor’s 500 index and Dow Jones industrial average set all-time highs, and the Dow marked its ninth consecutive day of gains. It’s the longest winning streak for the measure of blue-chip stocks since 2013, and it’s been a decidedly slow-and-steady one. All but one of those days had a gain of less than 1 per cent.


Abu Dhabi’s powerful wealth fund sticks to long-term plan

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority says it is committed to a long-term investment strategy despite a slump in oil prices and concerns about slower economic growth worldwide.

ADIA is based in the United Arab Emirates and is one of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds.

ADIA does not disclose the size of its holdings, but said its annualized rate of return in dollar terms over the past 20 years fell to 6.5 per cent in 2015, compared with 7.4 per cent in 2014.


US goes after more than $1B taken from Malaysian fund

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States moved Wednesday to recover more than $1 billion that federal officials say was stolen from a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund and used for high-end real estate, fancy artwork and production of the Hollywood film, “The Wolf of Wall Street.”

Justice Department civil forfeiture complaints seek the forfeiture of property including a Manhattan penthouse, a Beverly Hills mansion, a private jet and paintings by Vincent Van Gogh and Claude Monet.

The complaint, filed in Los Angeles, alleges a complex money laundering scheme that the Justice Department says was intended to enrich top-level officials of a government-controlled Malaysian wealth fund.


American Express 2Q earnings jump, helped by Costco sale

NEW YORK (AP) — American Express said Wednesday that its second-quarter profit jumped 37 per cent, helped by the sale of its Costco credit card portfolio and increased spending on its namesake cards.

AmEx sold the Costco portfolio to Citigroup, providing one-time after-tax gain of $677 million for the April-June quarter.

The credit card company said it earned $2.02 billion in the period, or $2.10 per share. The results topped estimates from Wall Street analysts, who were looking for AmEx to earn $1.96 per share.


Morgan Stanley’s earnings fall but still beat forecasts

NEW YORK (AP) — Morgan Stanley’s profits fell 14 per cent in the second quarter, the bank said Wednesday, reflecting difficulties investment banks have had due to market volatility before and after Britain’s vote last month to leave the European Union.

The investment bank reported a second-quarter profit of $1.42 billion before dividends to preferred shareholders, or 75 cents per share, down from $1.67 billion, or 79 cents a share, from the same period a year ago. That was well above the 59 cents per share analysts were looking for, according to FactSet. Revenue fell 9 per cent to $8.91 billion from $9.74 billion.


Macy’s tests artificial intelligence tool to improve service

NEW YORK (AP) — Macy’s is testing a mobile tool using artificial intelligence that lets shoppers get answers customized to the store they’re in — like where a particular brand is located or what’s in stock — that they would normally ask a sales associate face-to-face.

The tool can be accessed for now through a browser and will accept questions in 10 U.S. locations about products, services and facilities.

It’s developed by IBM Watson — the Jeopardy-winning “cognitive computing” service and is designed to keep learning more about the store’s customers. That’s a key element as Macy’s, the nation’s largest department store chain, seeks to spur sluggish sales.


HSBC Bank’s chief of foreign exchange cash trading arrested

NEW YORK (AP) — HSBC Bank’s head of foreign exchange cash trading has been arrested in New York on charges he traded ahead of his customers to make millions of dollars.

Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn say 50-year-old Mark Johnson was arrested Tuesday night. Johnson is a United Kingdom citizen and U.S. resident.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell says Johnson and a co-defendant from the United Kingdom corruptly manipulated the foreign exchange market.Authorities say the men generated $8 million from a single 2011 transaction, some of it illegally.

The bank isn’t accused of any wrongdoing.


Unilever to buy men’s grooming business Dollar Shave Club

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Consumer products giant Unilever says it has agreed to buy the fast-growing California-based men’s grooming business Dollar Shave Club for an undisclosed sum.

The company sells razor blades and other grooming products direct to consumers via its website.

Unilever, which already owns personal care products including Axe, Dove and Pond’s, said in a statement Wednesday that Dollar Shave Club has “transformed the shaving category with its lifestyle brand” and has built a membership of 3.2 million since its establishment in 2012. The company had sales of $152 million in 2015.


AB InBev says it has US approval for SABMiller merger

NEW YORK (AP) — Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s largest beer maker, announced Wednesday that it has reached an agreement with the Justice Department that clears the way for U.S. approval of its acquisition of SABMiller.

AB InBev, the maker of Budweiser and Bud Light, will sell SABMiller’s entire U.S. business to Molson Coors as previously announced as part of the agreement. That means Budweiser would continue to compete with Miller beer in the United States.

The merger, valued at about $107 billion, had raised concerns that a single company would control too much of the beer market.


Southwest suffers technology outage; flights held at gates

DALLAS (AP) — Southwest Airlines flights across the country were held up Wednesday while the airline worked to fix technology problems.

Anxious customers tweeted that they could not check in for flights. The airline’s website wasn’t working normally — visitors couldn’t buy tickets, check in for flights, or check their flight’s status.

By about 4 p.m. Central time, Southwest had cancelled 16 flights, more than any other U.S. carrier, and delayed about 150 others, according to tracking service

Spokesman Brad Hawkins said Southwest began having intermittent problems with several systems after an outage but that the systems were gradually coming back.


The Dow Jones industrial average rose 36.02 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 18,595.03. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index gained 9.24 points, or 0.4 per cent, to 2,173.02. The Nasdaq composite rose 53.56 points, or 1.1 per cent, to 5,089.93.

The price of U.S. crude oil rose 29 cents to $44.94 per barrel. Brent crude, the international benchmark, rose 51 cents to $47.17 a barrel. Wholesale gasoline fell 1 cent to $1.36 a gallon, heating oil rose 2 cents to $1.41 a gallon and natural gas fell 7 cents to $2.66 per 1,000 cubic feet.