Business Highlights

AP News
Posted: Nov 12, 2012 6:01 PM


Euro nations split on how to help Greece cut debt

BRUSSELS (AP) — Greece's international creditors are proposing giving the country two more years to reform its economy, but European finance ministers were split Monday over how to put together a comprehensive deal to help Athens dig out of its mountain of debt.

A draft report on Greece's progress from the so-called troika of creditors — the European Central Bank, the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund —recommends giving it until 2016 to implement the reforms necessary to restart growth and bring its debts down to a sustainable level. The document was obtained by The Associated Press.

Ahead of Monday's meeting of the 17 eurozone finance ministers in Brussels, Irish Finance Minister Michael Noonan said the extension would mean €31 billion to €32 billion ($39.48 billion-$40.75 billion) in extra financing.


Japan economy shrinks as China dispute takes toll

TOKYO (AP) — Japan's economy contracted in the latest quarter, signaling it may be in recession, further weighing down world growth.

On an annualized basis, the world's No. 3 economy shrank 3.5 percent in the July-September quarter, the government reported Monday. It was in line with gloomy forecasts after Japan's territorial dispute with China hammered exports that were already weakened by feeble global demand.

The bad news will temper optimism over recoveries in China and the U.S., where some economists are predicting growth will top 3 percent in the third quarter. China's painful slowdown likely bottomed out in the third quarter, with recent indicators such as factory production and auto and retail sales showing improvement.

Europe, though it may have turned a corner on its debt crisis as the financial system stabilizes, is forecast to get worse before it gets better.


British medical journal slams Roche on Tamiflu

LONDON (AP) — A leading British medical journal is asking the drug maker Roche to release all its data on Tamiflu, claiming there is no evidence the drug can actually stop the flu.

The drug has been stockpiled by dozens of governments worldwide in case of a global flu outbreak and was widely used during the 2009 swine flu pandemic.

On Monday a researcher linked to the journal called for European governments to sue Roche.


US seen overtaking Saudis as biggest oil producer

The United States will become the world's largest oil producer by around 2020, temporarily overtaking Saudi Arabia, as new exploration technologies find more resources, the International Energy Agency forecast on Monday.

In its World Energy Outlook, the energy watchdog also predicted that greater oil and natural gas production — thanks partly to a boom in shale gas output — as well as more efficient use of energy, will allow the U.S., which now imports some 20 percent of its energy needs, to become nearly self-sufficient around 2035.

That is "a dramatic reversal of the trend seen in most other energy-importing countries," the Paris-based IEA said in its report. "Energy developments in the United States are profound and their effect will be felt well beyond North America — and the energy sector."


Penney is the day's biggest stock loser

NEW YORK (AP) — J.C. Penney Co. executives may be confident in the department-store chain's everyday low pricing strategy, but its investors are panicking.

The company's stock fell more than 13 percent on Monday — the biggest percentage decline by far among big companies in the S&P 500 for the day. Penney stock lost nearly $3 on Monday to close at just under $18, its lowest price since March 2009, during the recession.

The drop follows Standard & Poor's move on Friday to push Penney's credit rating deeper into junk status. That happened on the same day that the company reported its third consecutive quarter of big losses and sales declines since it decided earlier this year to get rid of hundreds of coupons and sales annually in favor of everyday low prices.


Best Buy hires ex-Williams-Sonoma exec as CFO

NEW YORK (AP) — Struggling consumer electronics chain Best Buy said Monday that a former Williams-Sonoma executive will become its new chief financial officer beginning Dec. 10.

Sharon McCollam, 50, was chief operating officer and chief financial officer at the home goods retailer before retiring. She will be chief administrative officer at Best Buy as well as CFO.

It's the latest executive move for the Minneapolis company since turnaround expert Hubert Joly became its CEO in August.

Best Buy is trying to reverse a decline in business due to a weak global economy and tough competition from online stores and discounters.


Sherwin-Williams to spend $2.34 billion on paint maker

CLEVELAND (AP) — Sherwin-Williams is buying the privately held Mexican paint company Consorcio Comex in an all-cash deal valued at about $2.34 billion.

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John C. Goodman

Consorcio Comex, S.A. de C.V., sells paints and coatings under several brands in the U.S. and Canada, and it sells architectural and industrial coatings in Mexico. It has company operated stores and also works with independent paint dealers.

Consorcio is based in Mexico City and had a total of $1.4 billion in sales last year. It employs 7,200 people and runs manufacturing sites in Mexico, the U.S. and Canada.


Leucadia buying investment banker Jefferies Group

NEW YORK (AP) — Leucadia National is buying the investment banking firm Jefferies Group for about $2.8 billion in stock in a deal executives said Monday would better position both companies for growth in the years ahead.

The transaction will make Jefferies the largest business for a diversified holding company with more than $9 billion in assets, ranging from lumber and plastics manufacturers, energy production facilities and anoil and gas contract driller to medical product developers, a hotel and casino, wineries and other real estate interests.

Leucadia already held a 28.6 percent stake in Jefferies, which will continue to operate as a full-service investment banking firm. After the deal closes, 35.3 percent of Leucadia's stock will be owned by Jefferies Group Inc. stockholders.


RIM to unveil new BlackBerry phones on Jan. 30

TORONTO (AP) — Research In Motion said Monday that it will hold an official launch event for its new BlackBerry 10 smartphones on Jan. 30. The new phones are seen as critical to RIM's survival.

The Waterloo, Ontario-based company said details of the much-delayed smartphones and their availability will be announced at the event.

The announcement comes as the company struggles in North America to hold onto customers who are abandoning BlackBerrys for flashier iPhones and Android phones.


Verizon to pay $8.5 billion dividend to its owners

BASKING RIDGE, N.J. (AP) — Verizon Wireless says it will pay a dividend of $8.5 billion next month to its owners, Verizon Communications and Vodafone Group.

Vodafone, a British mobile phone company with wide international interests, owns 45 percent of Verizon Wireless. Verizon Communications owns the other 55 percent.

Verizon Wireless paid a dividend of $10 billion to its owners last January.


By The Associated Press(equals)

The Dow Jones industrial average finished down 0.31 point at 12,815.08. The Standard & Poor's 500 index edged up 0.15 point to 1,380. The Nasdaq composite fell 0.61 to 2,904.26.