Business Highlights

AP News
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Posted: Dec 18, 2015 7:01 PM

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Women are out-earning men in corporate finance

Women may be badly outnumbered in the top ranks of corporate America, but at least they aren't underpaid.

Compensation for female chief financial officers at S&P 500 companies last year outpaced that of their male counterparts, according to an analysis by executive compensation firm Equilar and The Associated Press. It follows a similar trend seen with female CEOs in recent years.

The median pay for female CFOs last year rose nearly 11 percent to $3.32 million. Male CFO pay rose 7 percent, to $3.3 million. This follows several years of steady gains for both sexes.

The gains, for both men and women, are in part a result of the expansion of the CFO role to include far more responsibility and visibility.

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Shkreli resigns as Turing CEO after securities fraud arrest

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — The pharmaceutical executive reviled for price-gouging resigned Friday as head of the drugmaker Turing Pharmaceuticals, a day after being arrested on charges of securities fraud related to a company he previously ran.

Martin Shkreli, whose arrest delighted countless people appalled by his unapologetic stance after hiking the price of a life-saving drug by 5,000 percent, is being replaced on an interim basis by Ron Tilles, according to a statement issued Friday by Turing, which is privately held.

Tilles has been chairman of Turing's board of directors since the company was founded late last year. Turing said that Tilles will continue to hold the board chairman position as well. He has worked at numerous private equity and venture capital firms in the pharmaceutical and medical device industries over the last two decades.

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Warm weather leaves stores in the cold

NEW YORK (AP) — The unseasonably warm weather has left some people feeling cold about holiday shopping.

As temperatures in cities nationwide reach near record levels for December, the balmy weather hasn't done anything to entice Americans to venture out and shop, which has hurt sales at stores that depend on the holiday season for up to 40 percent of their annual revenue.

Planalytics, a weather forecasting firm for retailers, estimates so far this season mall-based clothing stores have lost $343 million in sales compared with last year. That's the largest weather-related loss since 1998 when a devastating ice storm hit parts of the Northeast.

Sales of cold-weather items have been particularly icy. Sales of women's boots in New York, for instance, are down 24 percent for the first half of December, according to Planalytics. And First Data, which analyzes payments at stores and online, said fur sales fell 20 percent from Oct. 31 through Monday.

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Holiday sales pattern skews online; malls lose some luster

NEW YORK (AP) — More often shoppers are making the decision to sit on their couches rather than head to stores this holiday season.

Online sales growth so far this holiday season is surpassing growth in sales at physical stores, according to First Data, which analyzed online and in-store payments from Oct. 31 through Monday.

Sales growth for stores is up 2 percent, while online sales rose 4.6 percent, according to First Data.

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Painkiller politics: Effort to curb prescribing under fire

WASHINGTON (AP) — A bold federal effort to curb prescribing of painkillers may be faltering amid stiff resistance from drugmakers, industry-funded groups and, now, even other public health officials.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was on track to finalize new prescribing guidelines for opioid painkillers in January. The guidelines — though not binding — would be the strongest government effort yet to reverse the rise in deadly overdoses tied to drugs like OxyContin, Vicodin and Percocet.

But this highly unusual move — the CDC rarely advises physicians on medications, a job formally assigned to the Food and Drug Administration — thrust the agency into the middle of a longstanding fight over the use of opioids, a powerful but highly addictive class of pain medications that rang up over $9 billion in sales last year, according to IMS Health.

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China's counterfeiters aided by Western firms' weak response

An Associated Press investigation published last week uncovered systemic fraud in China's anti-counterfeiting industry. Major multinational companies, blind to problems on the ground, unwittingly paid investigators who themselves manufactured or sold counterfeit goods. In other cases, investigators colluded with the very counterfeiters they were supposed to expose.

Fraud in the anti-counterfeiting industry goes well beyond luxury fashion goods, and has impacted products that can be dangerous — including auto parts, pharmaceuticals and critical electrical components, the AP found.

Western companies share the blame, because many have bought into a system that facilitates widespread fraud, according to more than a dozen lawyers, law enforcement officials and private investigators interviewed by the AP.

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US stocks tumble on global worries; financial stocks skid

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks plunged across all sectors in the heaviest trading of the year Friday as enthusiasm over a long-awaited increase in U.S. interest rates faded.

Several other negative factors combined to give the market its second big loss in a row, bringing the indexes lower for the week.

Bank stocks, which investors had bid up in hopes they would become more profitable as loan rates climbed, fell the most. Technology shares suffered more declines as a bad December got worse for Apple. The world's most valuable publicly traded company sank again, bringing its monthly loss to 10 percent.

Overseas, Japan's market sank after that country's central bank made changes to a stimulus program that fell short of what investors were hoping for. Another drop in energy prices sent oil stocks lower again, and worries about weak global growth weighed on shipping and other transportation companies.

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US spending bill may aid economy just as Fed is pulling back

WASHINGTON (AP) — Just as the Federal Reserve is pulling back slightly on the economic accelerator, Congress is pressing down a bit harder.

The spending and tax-cut package that Congress approved Friday stands to modestly boost growth next year. It could also help drive a shift away from government as a drag on economic growth to a source of potential stimulus.

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JPMorgan paying $307M to settle US charges on conflicts

WASHINGTON (AP) — JPMorgan Chase is paying $307 million to settle federal charges of failing to reveal conflicts of interest from steering clients into certain investments tied to its businesses.

The civil settlements were announced Friday by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. JPMorgan, the largest U.S. bank by assets, admitted wrongdoing in the settlements.

The wrongdoing was brought to light by a JPMorgan executive who reported it to the SEC, the law firm representing the unidentified executive said.

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FDA proposes ban on indoor tanning for minors

WASHINGTON (AP) — Anyone under the age of 18 would be barred from using indoor tanning equipment, under a federal proposal to help reduce skin cancer linked to the devices.

The Food and Drug Administration also wants to require tanning bed users to sign consent forms acknowledging the risks of the radiation-emitting devices. Tanning salons and other businesses would have to collect the forms from customers before their first tanning session and every six months thereafter.

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Unemployment rates fall in 27 US states amid broad hiring

WASHINGTON (AP) — Unemployment rates fell in more than half of U.S. states in November as employers stepped up hiring.

The Labor Department said Friday that jobless rates fell in 27 states, rose in 11, and were unchanged in 12 states. Employers added jobs in 35 states, while employment fell in 14. Montana's job total was flat last month.

The widespread improvement suggests employers in most parts of the country are confident enough to hire more. Nationwide, the economy generated a robust 211,000 jobs last month and the U.S. unemployment rate remained 5 percent, a 7-year low.

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The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 367.29 points, or 2.1 percent, to 17,128.55. The S&P 500 index fell 36.34 points, or 1.8 percent, to 2,005.55. The Nasdaq composite sank 79.47 points, or 1.6 percent, to 4,923.08. All 10 Standard & Poor's 500 sectors fell.

U.S. crude fell 22 cents to $34.73 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, slipped 18 cents to $36.88 a barrel in London. Natural gas, which has sunk to 16-year lows as demand fell, picked up 1.2 cents to $1.767 per 1,000 cubic feet. Wholesale gasoline rose 1.3 cents to $1.275 a gallon and heating oil inched up to $1.107 a gallon.