Business Highlights


Finally, pay for workers across much of economy is climbing

WASHINGTON (AP) — Workers at construction sites, hotels and restaurants have enjoyed solid pay raises in the past 12 months. So have employees of utilities and telecom firms. Finally, after years of stagnant pay, more American workers are receiving meaningful raises — a trend driven home by the government’s October jobs report.

Average hourly pay surged 10 cents an hour last month to an average of $25.92, the government reported Friday. That’s 2.8 per cent higher than it was a year ago, the sharpest 12-month increase since 2009.

The job market appears much healthier now, a sign that the plodding seven-year recovery is now providing some critical relief for workers.


Wal-Mart sets environmental plan as people seek green items

NEW YORK (AP) — Wal-Mart is laying out its environmental map for the next several years as it tries to satisfy customers who want green products at affordable prices.

The world’s largest retailer says it will seek to reduce emissions in its own operations by 18 per cent by 2025, and work toward adding no waste to landfills in key markets like Canada and the United States. It also plans to be powered by 50 per cent clean and renewable energy sources.

Wal-Mart’s goals, announced Friday by CEO Doug McMillon, follow a plan set in 2005 as the company sought to deflect criticism of its practices and burnish its image.


S&P 500 index marks its longest losing streak in 36 years

NEW YORK (AP) — The slow, steady retreat of the stock market ahead of the 2016 election continued Friday, with the market falling for a ninth straight day. Wall Street is now in its longest period of decline in more than three decades.

Investors continue to focus on the U.S. presidential election, which has become too close for comfort for some investors and has put the market on the defensive.

The last time the S&P 500 fell for nine straight days is December 1980, nearly 36 years ago. Ronald Reagan wasn’t even president yet.


US trade deficit in September at lowest level in 19 months

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. trade deficit fell in September to the lowest level in 19 months as demand for U.S.-made airplanes and other exports increased while imports slipped. The politically sensitive deficit with China declined.

The deficit narrowed to $36.4 billion in September, down 9.9 per cent from August, the Commerce Department said Friday. It was the lowest imbalance since February 2015.

The latest report offers American manufacturers an encouraging sign that the problems caused by overseas weakness and a rising dollar were beginning to wane.


Samsung, after phone recall, recalls 3M washing machines

Nearly 3 million Samsung washing machines are being recalled in the U.S. following multiple injuries — including a broken jaw — due to “excessive vibration.”

Samsung is the South Korean company that last month was forced to recall millions of its of Galaxy Note 7 smartphones after batteries inside began to overheat and catch fire.

Safety officials cited 733 reports of malfunctioning, top-loading washing machines and nine injuries, including the broken jaw and an injured shoulder. The recall Friday affects 34 models of washing machines manufactured between 2011 and this year.


Buffett’s firm’s 3Q profit drops 24 pct on investments value

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Berkshire Hathaway Inc. reported a 24 per cent drop in third-quarter profit on Friday because last year’s results were helped by a huge paper gain on the value of its Kraft Heinz Food Co. stake.

The conglomerate billionaire Warren Buffett leads posted solid results at most of the more than 90 companies it owns as it reported net income of $7.2 billion, or $4,379 per Class A share, in the quarter. That’s down from $9.43 billion, or $5,737 per A share, a year ago when it recorded a $4.4 billion after-tax gain after Kraft and Heinz merged.


Icahn takes an even larger stake in Herbalife

NEW YORK (AP) — Billionaire Carl Icahn is extending a years-long proxy fight with co-billionaire Bill Ackman, upping his stake in Herbalife yet again.

The two have been battling over the legitimacy of the supplements and weight loss company since 2012, when Ackman called Herbalife a pyramid scheme and revealed a massive bet against it.

A regulatory filing this week shows that Icahn upped the stakes again, pushing his ownership from 20.8 per cent, up to 23.1 per cent. He’s the California company’s biggest stakeholder. At $54.70 per share, Icahn put another $100 million plus into Herbalife on Thursday.


EU Commission holds up DuPont-Dow merger review

WASHINGTON (AP) — The EU Commission reviewing the proposed merger of agriculture and chemicals companies DuPont Co. and Dow Chemical has put its work on hold as it waits for more information from the companies. The commission in August had expressed concern it could harm competition in the crop protection, seeds and petrochemicals sectors.

DuPont and Dow agreed to merge in December in an all-stock deal then valued at about $62 billion. Shareholders for DuPont and Dow approved the merger in July.

A Dow spokesperson said the Midland, Michigan company expects the merger to be completed in the first quarter of 2017, pending regulatory approvals.


UK’s May seeks to keep Brexit plan going despite setback

LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Theresa May sought Friday to reassure European Union leaders that her timetable for Britain to leave the EU remains intact despite a court ruling requiring British lawmakers to have more of a say in the process.

She telephoned Jean-Claude Juncker, the EU’s top official, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel to say her plan is still to start the process to remove Britain from the EU by the end of March. Officials say she will also call French President Francois Hollande and European Council President Donald Tusk. In Berlin, British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson said the court ruling should not interfere with the government’s Brexit timetable.


Egypt devalues, floats its currency, meeting key IMF demand

CAIRO (AP) — Egypt on Thursday took the unprecedented step of floating its currency and later hiked fuel prices, meeting key demands by the International Monetary Fund under a $12 billion loan agreement to overhaul the ailing economy of the most populous Arab state.

The floatation, accompanied by a 48 per cent devaluation of the Egyptian pound, is the boldest economic measure taken by President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi since his election in 2014. El-Sissi has often asserted that tough times lie ahead as the country struggles with an array of economic woes, from double-digit inflation to unemployment and an acute foreign currency shortage.


The Dow Jones industrial average fell 42.39 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 17,888.28. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index lost 3.48 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 2,085.18. The Nasdaq composite lost 12.04 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 5,046.37.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil lost 59 cents to $44.07 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the international standard, declined 77 cents to $45.58 a barrel in London. Heating oil fell 3 cents to $1.43 a gallon, wholesale gasoline fell 4.5 cents to $1.38 a gallon and natural gas futures fell less than 1 cent to $2.767 per 1,000 cubic feet.