Business Highlights

AP News
Posted: Nov 16, 2016 5:20 PM


Drug prices don't budge even after pressure from Congress

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress's routine of publicly shaming drug company executives over high prices works no better than a placebo: It may make some people feel better, but it doesn't treat the problem.

In the last two years, House and Senate committees issued more than a dozen subpoenas to price-hiking drugmakers, collecting hundreds of thousands of documents and berating executives for more than 16 hours of public hearings.

But a review by The Associated Press of the list prices of nearly 30 brand-name medications and generic versions targeted by congressional investigators shows most haven't budged since coming under federal scrutiny, according to figures from Truven Health Analytics.


Bank rally fades and stocks fall; dollar hits 13-year high

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks finished barely lower Wednesday as banks return some of the huge gains they've made since the presidential election last week, but technology and consumer stocks climbed. The dollar continued to appreciate against other currencies and reached its highest mark in 13 years.

Banks took the biggest losses as a seven-day rally in that sector petered out. Industrial companies, also big gainers since the election, traded lower as well. The price of oil gave back some of its enormous gain from the day before. Graphics processor maker Nvidia and household names like Apple and Microsoft led technology companies higher. Rising stocks outnumbered decliners.


Target, after solid 3Q, gets cheery about the holidays

NEW YORK (AP) — Target breezed past Wall Street expectations for the third quarter, with help from a solid back-to-school season, and raised a key sales outlook for the critical holiday season.

The cheap-chic retailer still saw declines in store traffic and in its central sales measure, but they were less than expected and Target raised its annual profit outlook.

Target has been trying to get back on track and address the issues that dragged down its business this summer.


Lowe's results miss Street expectation; cuts annual outlook

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (AP) — Lowe's was beset by hefty charges and meager traffic in its stores for most of the third quarter, and its profit suffered for it.

A day after rival Home Depot posted banner results and boosted its outlook for the year, Lowe's fell drastically short of Wall Street expectations and cut its annual outlook, again.

Chairman and CEO Robert Niblock said sales, after beginning slowly, had begun to recover by October.


Facebook apologizes for latest metrics errors

NEW YORK (AP) — Facebook says it will work with independent companies like Nielsen and comScore to review more of its metrics after it uncovered new problems with the data it provides to advertisers and publishers that use its network.

Facebook had apologized to advertisers in September for errors that led to overstating how long users watched videos.

On Wednesday, the company said in a post that it miscalculated four metrics, including undercounting how many people watched all of a video and overcounting how much time people spent reading "Instant Articles."

Facebook and Google together account for the majority of digital ad dollars spent in the U.S.


Twitter suspends several alt-right accounts

NEW YORK (AP) — Twitter has suspended the accounts of several prominent members of the so-called "alt-right" in an apparent crackdown on accounts tied to hate speech or threats of violence.

Twitter declined comment, but noted that its policies forbid violent threats, hate speech or harassment and promise to take action against violators. The company also announced Tuesday that it was expanding ways for users to report harassment and curb the amount of abuse they see.

The alt-right, short for "alternative right," is a loose group espousing a provocative and reactionary strain of conservatism.


US homebuilder confidence holds steady in November

U.S. homebuilders' confidence held steady this month, though their expectations for sales into next year dimmed slightly.

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index released Wednesday was unchanged at 63. That's two points below September's reading.

Readings above 50 indicate more builders view sales conditions as good rather than poor. The index has been above 60 the past three months after hovering in the high 50s much of this year.


Congress urged to bar US acquisitions by China state firms

WASHINGTON (AP) — As Chinese investment in the United States keeps setting records, congressional advisers suggest changing U.S. law so Chinese state-owned companies can be barred from buying or gaining control of American businesses.

The concern is that such enterprises could use technology, intelligence and market power "in the service of the Chinese state," the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission said Wednesday in its annual report.

The recommendation, stemming from the security implications about foreign investment by the world's No. 2 economy, was one of several proposals in the report, which examines a range of issues in the relationship between the powers.


US wholesale inflation was flat October

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. producer prices were unchanged in October as the price of services fell, another sign that inflationary pressure remains modest.

The Labor Department said Wednesday that its producer price index was flat last month after rising 0.3 percent in September.

The producer price index measures cost pressures before they reach consumers. Inflation has stayed well below the Federal Reserve's 2 percent annual target. Low oil prices — currently well below $50 a barrel — have helped keep inflation in check.


US factory production improves in October

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. factory output rose slightly in October, aided by greater production of automobiles, home electronics and appliances.

The Federal Reserve said Wednesday that manufacturing production improved 0.2 percent last month, matching the gain in September. The broader industrial production category, which includes mining and utilities, was flat as warmer weather reduced the demand for heating.

Manufacturers have endured a brutal year that crimped sales and hiring. The relatively strong dollar made U.S. goods more expensive overseas, hurting exports, while low energy prices dried up demand for drilling equipment and pipelines. Businesses became cautious about investing in machinery.


Former Archer Daniels Midland CEO Dwayne Andreas dead at 98

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) — Dwayne Andreas, the farmer's son and college dropout who turned the grain-processing company Archer Daniels Midland into the "supermarket to the world," has died. He was 98.

Archer Daniels Midland on Wednesday confirmed Andreas' death but did not immediately provide additional details on the cause.

Under Andreas' guidance, the company changed the agricultural world. Andreas used his influence and friendships with politicians to encourage federal subsidies for corn and grain farmers, maintain huge overseas markets and help turn ADM products, including high fructose corn syrup, into staples of the American diet.


The Dow Jones industrial average fell 54.92 points, or 0.3 percent, to 18,868.14. The Standard & Poor's 500 index gave up 3.45 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,176.94. The Nasdaq composite rose 18.96 points, or 0.4 percent, to 5,294.58.

Benchmark U.S. crude lost 24 cents to $45.57 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, fell 32 cents to $46.63 a barrel in London. In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline fell 2 cents to $1.32 a gallon. Heating oil fell 1 cent to $1.44 a gallon. Natural gas rose 6 cents, or 2 percent, to $2.76 per 1,000 cubic feet.