News Column

Business Highlights

August 13, 2014

The Associated Press

Entrepreneurship the answer for some with autism

NEW YORK (AP) Matt Cottle is one of a few known small business owners with autism, a brain disorder that affects a person's ability to comprehend, communicate and interact socially. There are varying degrees of autism, but even autistic people with the greatest capabilities can find it impossible to get a job because they take longer to read or process information, or because they struggle to hold conversations.

One in 68 people have some form of autism, according to government figures.

There is a growing movement to help autistic adults find jobs, but for Cottle and his family, the answer was a business of his own.

Amazon debuts mobile payment app and card reader

NEW YORK (AP) Amazon's new credit-card processing device and mobile app is designed to help small business owners accept payments through their smartphones and tablets.

Amazon Local Register places the largest U.S. e-commerce retailer in competition with Square and other established mobile payment processing systems such as PayPal Here and Intuit's GoPayment.

The service is designed to serve on-the-go small business owners who might otherwise only accept cash or checks, including massage therapists, food truck operators and artists who sell their work at outdoor fairs.

Athens Olympics leave mixed legacy, 10 years later

ATHENS, Greece (AP) In an obscure corner of a park sits a forlorn reminder that, 10 years ago, Athens hosted the 2004 Summer Olympics: A crumbling miniature marble theater.

Once a symbol of pomp, the marble theater is now an emblem of pointless waste in a venture that left a mixed legacy: a brand-new subway, airport and other vital infrastructure that significantly improved everyday life in a city of 4 million, set against scores of decrepit sports venues built in a mad rush to meet deadlines with little thought for post-Olympic use.

As Greece groans under a cruel economic depression, questions linger of whether the Athens Games were too ambitious an undertaking for a weak economy. While economists agree it would be unfair to blame the meltdown on the 17-day Games, the post-Olympic era is seen as a decade of lost opportunities including failure to significantly boost the country's sporting culture.

US retail sales flat in July

WASHINGTON (AP) The Commerce Department said Wednesday that seasonally adjusted U.S. retail sales were unchanged in July compared with the prior month.

Total sales rose a statistically insignificant $161 million from $439.6 billion in June.

The figures suggest that Americans are hesitant to spend, which could limit growth for the economy. Retail sales are closely watched because consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of economic activity.

Drugmaker not ready to use Ebola drug in Africa

WASHINGTON (AP) A Canadian drugmaker working on an experimental drug for Ebola said Wednesday that it is not ready to make the treatment available in Africa, despite assurances by international health officials that it is ethical to use untested treatments to fight the deadly outbreak.

Tekmira Pharmaceuticals Corp. said that the "regulatory framework" for giving its drug to patients in Africa is not clear, given that the drug's safety and effectiveness has not been established.

CEO Mark Murray said the company is continuing discussions with governments and international agencies trying to contain the outbreak, including the World Health Organization.

Lighter sentences sought for some business crimes

WASHINGTON (AP) The federal panel that sets sentencing policy eased penalties this year for potentially tens of thousands of nonviolent drug offenders. Now, defense lawyers and prisoner advocates are pushing for similar treatment for a different category of defendants: swindlers, embezzlers, insider traders and other white-collar criminals.

Lawyers who have long sought the changes say a window to act opened once the U.S. Sentencing Commission cleared a major priority from its agenda by cutting sentencing guideline ranges for drug crimes.

The commission, which meets Thursday to vote on priorities for the coming year, already has expressed interest in examining punishments for white-collar crime. And the Justice Department, though not advocating wholesale changes, has said it welcomes a review.

Cisco to lay off up to 6,000 workers

NEW YORK (AP) Cisco said Wednesday that it will lay off up to 6,000 workers, or 8 percent of its workforce, as part of a restructuring.

The company, which makes routers, switches and software, said the layoffs will affect workers in operations around the world. The announcement was made during a conference call discussing its fiscal fourth-quarter earnings.

The San Jose, California-based company on Wednesday reported a 1 percent decline in profit, to $2.25 billion, as revenue dipped to $12.36 billion from $12.42 billion.

Macy's 2Q profit falls short; sales outlook cut

NEW YORK (AP) Macy's Inc. on Wednesday reported a 4 percent profit increase in its fiscal second quarter as business rebounded from slow sales earlier in the year.

But the department store chain cut its full-year outlook for a key sales measure, saying it couldn't make up the sales shortfall from the first quarter, when winter storms kept shoppers at home.

Like many retailers catering to the middle class, Macy's is facing economic challenges. While the job market is improving and the housing market is rebounding, the gains are not strong enough to sustain big shopping sprees.

Macy's said Wednesday that it's been pleased with the start to the back-to-school season, which typically begins mid-July and ends in mid-September. But Macy's said it needs to continue to discount to bring shoppers in.

Burger King nixes lower-calorie 'Satisfries'

NEW YORK (AP) Burger King is getting rid of its lower-calorie french fries at most restaurants after less than a year.

The Miami-based chain said in a statement that it gave its franchisees the option to continue selling the french fries earlier this week. Only about 2,500 of the approximately 7,400 locations in the U.S. and Canada opted to continue selling them as a permanent item. The others have started phasing them out.

The french fries, called "Satisfries," were a big bet for Burger King when they were announced in September. But they weren't as well received as Burger King had hoped.

GM says China venture contacted by regulators

General Motors Co.'s main China joint venture has joined automakers that say they have been contacted by Chinese anti-monopoly regulators as part of an investigation of the industry.

Shanghai GM's announcement follows government announcements that Audi and Chrysler will face unspecified penalties for violating the country's anti-monopoly law. Mercedes Benz, Toyota'sLexus luxury brand and Japanese parts suppliers also are under scrutiny.

Regulators have launched a series of anti-monopoly probes of global automakers and technology suppliers, prompting suggestions Beijing is trying to force down prices.

By The Associated Press=

The S&P 500 rose 12.97 points, or 0.7 percent, to end at 1,946.72. The Dow gained 91.26 points, or 0.6 percent, to 16,651.80. The Nasdaq composite climbed 44.87 points, or 1 percent, to 4,434.13.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose 22 cents to $97.59 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, a benchmark for many international crudes used by U.S. refineries, rose $1.26 to $104.28 in London. Wholesale gasoline gained 2 cents to $2.754 a gallon. Heating oil rose 5.7 cents to $2.902 a gallon. Natural gas slumped 14.3 cents to $3.831 per 1,000 cubic feet.


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Source: Associated Press


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