Business Highlights


Fed’s more upbeat tone suggests rate hike as early as Sept.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve said Wednesday that near-term risks to the U.S. economy have diminished, reviving the prospect that it will resume raising interest rates as soon as September.

The Fed noted that the U.S. job market has rebounded, with robust hiring in June after a deep slump in May. At the same time, the Fed said in a statement after its latest policy meeting that it plans to closely monitor global economic threats and financial developments to ensure that they don’t slow the economy.


Boeing posts rare quarterly loss, mulls phasing out 747

NEW YORK (AP) — Boeing, absorbing billions in write-downs related to two of its newest commercial jets and a military fuel tanker, reported its first quarterly loss in nearly seven years. Yet revenue for the Chicago aerospace giant rose 1 per cent to $24.8 billion.

Boeing also signalled that it might soon end production of its iconic 747, which revolutionized air travel by making it more affordable for the masses. But its four engines and massive size are now seen as negatives — it burns too much fuel and airlines struggle to fill flights.


Facebook beats 2Q forecasts, user numbers grow, stock soars

NEW YORK (AP) — Facebook handily surpassed Wall Street’s expectations for the second quarter, barrelling ahead on mobile advertisements, user growth and the next frontier — video.

People are spending more time each day on Facebook and the company’s focus on video is attracting more attention from users. The comapny has been working to get users to create and watch more videos, from each other, from businesses and from celebrities.

Facebook had 1.71 billion monthly users as of June 30, up 15 per cent year-over-year.


US stocks edge mostly lower despite a big gain for Apple

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks ended Wednesday’s trading slightly lower as shares of energy companies and consumer goods makers outweighed gains in technology companies like Apple.

Apple jumped $6.36, or 6.6 per cent, to $103.03. While the company reported lower revenue and iPhone sales, it still earned $7.8 billion last quarter, well above analysts’ estimates. Apple had been one of the biggest drags on the market this year as investors became concerned that its years of massive growth were coming to an end. Apple nearly erased its loss for the year.


Whole Foods says key sales figure falls again

NEW YORK (AP) — Whole Foods said quarterly sales at established locations fell for the fourth straight quarter, as it fights to distinguish itself from competitors that are also offering organic and natural foods.

The Austin, Texas-based company said Wednesday the figure was down 2.6 per cent for the three months ended July 3 as customer visits declined. Co-CEO Walter Robb noted that the most recent decline marked an improvement from the previous quarter, when the figure fell 3 per cent.


Coca-Cola cuts sales outlook amid weak international demand

ATLANTA (AP) — Coca-Cola cut its sales forecast for the year on Wednesday, but says it’s making changes to address declining soda demand in the U.S. and key international markets.

The world’s biggest beverage company said global volume was flat in the second quarter as a decline in soda sales was offset by stronger sales of non-carbonated drinks. The last time its quarterly soda volume fell was in early 2014.

The maker of Fanta, Sprite and Powerade had warned earlier this year that its soda volume was being pressured by rougher economic conditions in emerging markets, where sodas tend to account for a higher portion of sales.


Comcast profit slips due to fewer box-office hits

NEW YORK (AP) — Comcast’s second-quarter profit slipped because of fewer movie hits from its film-and-TV arm, but posted big gains in internet customers. It also reported its smallest video losses for a second quarter in at least a decade.

Comcast said it lost 4,000 cable customers and added 220,000 internet customers. On the NBCUniversal side, the movies division had a difficult comparison with last year, when “Furious 7” and “Jurassic World” gave a big boost to box-office revenue.


WTO chief: Global trade not main culprit for lost US jobs

GENEVA (AP) — Global trade is not the main cause for the loss of manufacturing jobs in places like the United States and needs to be defended from its critics, the chief of the World Trade Organization said Wednesday.

Director-General Roberto Azevedo rebuffed arguments made by some politicians around the world, such as U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump, that global trade deals are destroying jobs or causing them to move to lower-cost countries.

He pointed to recent studies showing that as much as 90 per cent of the U.S. manufacturing jobs recently lost were due to new technologies, innovation or improvements in efficiency.


Nintendo sinks into loss despite ‘Pokemon Go’ global success

TOKYO (AP) — Japanese video game maker Nintendo Co. sagged into a loss of 24.53 billion yen ($232 million) for the fiscal first quarter, despite the global success of the “Pokemon Go” augmented reality game.

The Kyoto-based company’s quarterly sales fell 31 per cent to 61.97 billion yen ($586 million).

Nintendo has warned the “Pokemon Go” perk will be limited. The Pokemon Co., a Nintendo affiliate, will get licensing fees and other compensation for the mobile game distributed by Niantic Inc., but that won’t have much impact on Nintendo income.


Long-time Lilly CEO Lechleiter to retire in December

Eli Lilly Chairman and CEO John C. Lechleiter will retire in December after leading the drugmaker through a challenging period in which it lost U.S. patent protection for several top-selling products.

The company says the president of its bio-medicines business, David A. Ricks, will replace Lechleiter as CEO in January and become board chairman next June.

Lechleiter became CEO in 2008, nearly 30 years after joining the company as an organic chemist.


Branson: Parents should join kids who insist on smoking pot

CHICAGO (AP) — British billionaire Richard Branson says if kids are going to smoke marijuana, their parents should join them.

The Chicago Tribune reports the Virgin Group founder told an audience of entrepreneurs in Chicago on Tuesday that if their kids are “going to have a joint, do it with them.” He adds, “Don’t let them sneak off and do it on their own.”

The 66-year-old father of two was responding to a question about how he ensured his children learned values.

The eccentric businessman told GQ in 2007 that he had smoked marijuana with his son, saying “I’d rather my son did it in front of me than behind closed doors.”


The Dow Jones industrial average fell 1.58 points, or 0.01 per cent, to 18,472.17. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 2.60 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 2,166.58. The Nasdaq composite rose 29.76 points, or 0.6 per cent, to end at 5,139.81.

Benchmark U.S. crude fell $1, or roughly 2.3 per cent, to close at $41.92 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, continuing its month-long decline. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell $1.40 to $43.47 a barrel in London. In other energy commodities, heating oil fell 3 cents to $1.30 a gallon, wholesale gasoline futures fell 2 cents to $1.32 a gallon and natural gas fell 4 cents to $2.67 per 1,000 cubic feet.