Business Highlights


US economy grew at its strongest pace in 2 years

WASHINGTON (AP) — Don’t expect much more from the U.S. economy this year — it may have already peaked.

Gross domestic product, the broadest measure of economic health, grew at annual rate of 2.9 per cent in the July-September quarter, shaking off a lacklustre first half and accelerating to its strongest growth in two years, the Commerce Department reported Friday. The improvement was powered by a rebound in exports and a decision by businesses to restock their shelves.

The latest figure was double the 1.4 per cent rate in the second quarter. The details, however, point to signs that the pace is unlikely to last.


Companies set monthly record for mergers, acquisitions

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. companies are cutting merger deals at a record pace even though antitrust regulators have moved to oppose several recent high-profile combinations.

So far this month, companies have agreed to mergers and acquisitions valued at $249 billion, according to financial information provider Dealogic. That surpasses the previous record of $240 billion in July 2015.

Last week alone the merger mania racked up $177 billion, a new mark for a single week.


Stocks wilt after FBI inquiry into new Clinton emails

NEW YORK (AP) — A midday advance on the stock market wilted in afternoon trading Friday after the FBI notified Congress that it will investigate new emails linked to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

The market had started out on a strong note after the government reported that the economy broke out of a slump in the third quarter and grew at the fastest pace in two years.

The early climb was led by industrial, energy and technology companies, which would stand to benefit most from a pickup in economy, but the gains disappeared after the FBI made its announcement at about 1 p.m. Eastern. Clinton has led in recent polls, and the surprise development added new uncertainty just a week and a half before the presidential election.


China’s overseas takeover spree meets growing resistance

HONG KONG (AP) — Corporate China’s global shopping binge barrelled on this week with more multibillion dollar deals, but Beijing is starting to discover that there are limits to what its money can buy.

In recent days German and European Union officials have moved to tighten up scrutiny or even block high-profile acquisitions in the latest sign of growing opposition to Chinese purchases of companies in key industries due to national security or competition concerns.

Swiss chemical giant Syngenta said Tuesday that EU regulators examining its proposed $43 billion takeover by state-owned ChemChina have “recently requested a large amount of additional information,” which will drag the approval process out into the first quarter of next year.


Users mourn as Twitter kills quirky, beloved Vine video app

NEW YORK (AP) — You can watch any video for six seconds, played on an infinite loop. The funniest ones only get more ridiculous with repetition.

That was the beauty of Vine, the simple, pioneering mobile video app that Twitter has decided to kill off. Its loyal users are mourning its weirdness, humour and creativity-boosting constraints.

There are alternatives, sure, but nothing as simple as Vine, which did just one thing, and one thing well. Instagram has photos and videos of all sorts. Snapchat keeps expanding features, and it isn’t really meant for mindless scrolling of humorous content. Facebook, well, we all know Facebook.


New York comptroller projects higher Wall Street profits in 2016

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Wall Street is on track to post higher profits this year and end three straight years of declines, according to a report issued Friday by New York state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

New York City’s securities industry earned pretax profits of $9.3 billion in the first half of 2016.

The industry saw $11.3 billion in profits in the first half of 2015, but experienced an unusual fourth-quarter loss, ending the year with $14.3 billion in profits overall.


US wages, benefits rise 0.6 per cent in third quarter

WASHINGTON (AP) — Wages and benefits paid to U.S. civilian workers grew at a steady pace in the third quarter.

The Labor Department says total compensation rose 0.6 per cent from July through September, same as it did from April through June. Wages and salaries increased 0.5 per cent, benefits 0.7 per cent.

In the 12 months that ended Sept. 30, compensation increased 2.3 per cent, up from an annual gain of 2 per cent a year earlier.


Exxon 3Q profit falls 38 per cent on lower oil prices

DALLAS (AP) — Exxon’s profit keeps shrinking because of lower oil prices, and the company is responding by sharply cutting investment in future production.

Exxon Mobil Corp. said Friday that its third-quarter income fell 38 per cent from a year ago to $2.65 billion.

It marked the eighth straight quarter in which Exxon’s profit fell compared with a year earlier.


New Reese’s cups and Kit Kats help boost Hershey

HERSHEY, Pa. (AP) — New Reese’s peanut butter cups and Kit Kat bars helped boost Hershey’s sales, the chocolate company said Friday as it reported that quarterly profit rose 47 per cent and predicted better full-year earnings than it previously expected.

Its new products — a Reese’s peanut butter cup stuffed with Reese’s Pieces, and Kit Kat Big Kat — helped increase sales of both brands, the company said. In December, it will launch Hershey’s Cookie Layer Crunch, a chocolate bar stuffed with cookies. Hershey hopes the product will refresh the brand and attract Americans who are increasingly snacking more instead of eating a set amount of meals a day. Last year, Hershey bought jerky maker Krave to expand its snack offerings.


BMW recalls over 154,000 vehicles because engines could stall

DETROIT (AP) — BMW is recalling more than 154,000 cars and SUVs in the U.S. and Canada to fix a wiring problem that can cause engines to stall.

The recall covers certain 5-Series and X5 models and some 6-Series and X6 vehicles from the 2007 to 2012 model years.

The company says in documents filed with U.S. safety regulators that wiring to fuel pumps inside the gas tank may not have been properly crimped. That can cause the wires to come loose and melt a connector, causing a gas leak. That can stop the fuel pump from working and make engines stall.


Patagonia joins companies giving staff day off for election

NEW YORK (AP) — Patagonia is joining other companies that are giving workers a day off on Election Day, saying it wants to encourage its employees to have the time to elect candidates up and down the ballot who will protect the environment.

There’s been a movement called “Take Off Election Day” that has enlisted hundreds of tech companies, mainly smaller ones, to give people Nov. 8 off.

But the move by a company like Patagonia may give other big brands more to think about. The Ventura, California-based retailer says it’s closing its corporate office, customer service and distribution centre and all 29 U.S. stores on Election Day for the first time and giving its 1,800 workers a paid holiday.


The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 8.49 points, less than 0.1 per cent, at 18,161.19. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index dipped 6.63 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 2,126.41. The Nasdaq composite slid 25.87 points, or 0.5 per cent, to 5,190.10.

U.S. crude fell $1.02, or 2.1 per cent, to $48.70 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the international standard, lost 76 cents, or 1.5 per cent, to $49.71 a barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline lost 2 cents to $1.47 a gallon. Heating oil gave up 3 cents to $1.54 a gallon and natural gas rose 4 cents to $3.11 per 1,000 cubic feet.