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Updated: 1 year 2 months ago

Amish Opening First New U.S. Bank in Nearly 3 Years

Mon, 12/02/2013 - 11:14am
A small Amish bank in the heart of Pennsylvania’s Dutch country may be a sign of a recovering banking industry. Bank of Bird-in-Hand, backed by Amish investors, is the first new bank in the United States in nearly three years. The bank has raised $17 million in capital and received regulatory approval to open, FT reported Sunday. The country’s bank population has been shrinking since the start of the financial crisis—from 8,533 in 2007 to 6,891—amid stricter regulations and low interest rates that have made lending less profitable. Bank of Bird-in-Hand, which will loan to farmers and small business owners and provide consumer banking services, will be the first new U.S. bank since late 2010. [FT.com]
Categories: Financial News

Dow Chemical Looking to Spin Off, Sell 40 Plants

Mon, 12/02/2013 - 9:18am
(MIDLAND, Mich.) — Dow Chemical is looking to spin off or sell about 40 manufacturing plants from its business as it continues to move away from cyclical commodity products. The company said Monday that it expects those deals to happen within the next one to two years. Almost 2,000 workers will be affected by the moves. The businesses generate up to $5 billion of total annual revenue. The assets include its U.S. Gulf Coast chlor-alkali and chlor-vinyl facilities in Plaquemine, La., and Freeport, Texas, including Dow’s interest in the Dow Mitsui Chlor-Alkali joint venture in Freeport, Texas; its global chlorinated organics production plants in Freeport, Texas; Plaquemine, La. and Stade, Germany; the global epoxy business, including assets in Freeport, Texas; Roberta, Ga.; Rheinmuenster, Germany; Pisticci, Italy; Baltringen, Germany; Stade, Germany; Gumi, South Korea; Zhangjiagang, China and Guaruja, Brazil; its brine and select assets supporting operations in Freeport, Texas, and Plaquemine, La. and energy operations in Plaquemine, La. The businesses “are serving markets Dow has exited over time,” Chairman and CEO Andrew Liveris said in a statement. “Separating these business units will allow us to further optimize the way they can be operated; and we believe different owners will be able to extract maximum value from these highly competitive assets and their related markets,” he added. Dow Chemical, based in Midland, Mich., also said that it will shut down about 800,000 tons of chlorine and other capacity in Freeport, Texas. The void will be replaced with supply from new plants that will come online with the start-up of the Dow Mitsui joint venture early next year.
Categories: Financial News

Hess Selling Indonesia Assets for $1.3 Billion

Mon, 12/02/2013 - 9:09am
(NEW YORK) — Energy company Hess is selling its Indonesia assets to a joint venture between PT Pertamina and PTT Exploration and Production Co. Ltd. for $1.3 billion. Hess has been shifting away from refining and toward exploration and production. As part of that plan, it’s selling off some assets. The Indonesia assets were included in that plan. The assets are off Indonesia’s coast and produced an average of 15,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day net to Hess in the first three quarters of the year. The sale is being conducted under two separate agreements with the joint venture. Hess Corp. said Monday that it will use proceeds from the sale to continue buying back shares under an existing $4 billion program. The deal is expected to close in 2014′s first quarter.
Categories: Financial News

New York Magazine Goes Bi-Weekly

Mon, 12/02/2013 - 8:45am
New York magazine will switch from weekly to bi-weekly publishing in March, the magazine announced Monday, cutting its 42 issues per year down to 26. The magazine will publish three additional special issues (for best doctors, the annual gift guide and a food-and-drink issue), and the change will likely save the company about $3.5 million, according to the New York Times.   Magazine publishers across the industry have struggled in recent years, and New York has struggled since 2008. It has a current subscriber base of  just over 400,000, according to the Alliance for Audited Media, and this year ad pages are down 9.2 percent compared to last year. But there’s hope online: its website traffic grew 19 percent in the last eight months. The magazine will get thicker, with 20 percent more content per issue and a new fashion section called the Cut (named after its fashion blog). And the extra cash will be invested in the magazine’s website, which will expand with a new blog on the science of human behavior, as well as increased coverage of politics, culture and fashion.
Categories: Financial News

More Shoppers, Less Spending During Black Friday Weekend

Mon, 12/02/2013 - 7:00am
The number of shoppers was up but total spending was down over the long holiday weekend. Retailers like Target and Macy’s opened their doors on Thanksgiving Day — ahead of the traditional Black Friday start to the holiday shopping season — to entice more shoppers into stores, and it worked. A record 141 million people were expected to shop in stores and online over the four-day period from Thursday through Sunday, according to a survey of 4,500 shoppers by the National Retail Federation. But the group also predicted that spending would fall for the first time since 2006, when it started tracking such data, the Associated Press reports. A survey released Sunday showed that over the holiday weekend, spending fell an estimated 2.9 percent to $57.4 billion. And the average shopper was expected to spend $407.02 during their holiday shopping spree, down 3.9 percent from last year. The problem was most likely pricing. “The economy spoke loud and clear over the past few days,” Brian Sozzi, CEO and chief equities strategist at Belus Capital Advisors, told the AP. “We are going to see an increase in markdowns.” The survey showed that shoppers still expect the high discounts they saw during the downturn now that the country’s in economic recovery. But stores can still look forward to the rest of the holiday shopping season. The National Retail Federation predicts that sales for the combined months of November and December will increase 3.9 percent to $602.1 billion, higher than the 3.5 percent increase last year. That holiday revenue can account for up to 40 percent of retailers’ total revenue for the year. [AP]
Categories: Financial News

Record Crowds over Weekend, But Spending Declined

Mon, 12/02/2013 - 5:24am
(NEW YORK) — Retailers got Americans into stores during the start to the holiday shopping season. Now, they’ll need to figure out how to get them to actually shop. Target, Macy’s and other retailers offered holiday discounts in early November and opened stores on Thanksgiving Day. It was an effort to attract shoppers before Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving that traditionally kicks off the holiday shopping season. Those tactics drew bigger crowds during the four-day Thanksgiving weekend, but failed to motivate Americans to spend. “The economy spoke loud and clear over the past few days,” said Brian Sozzi, CEO and chief equities strategist at Belus Capital Advisors. “We are going to see an increase in markdowns.” A record 141 million people were expected to shop in stores and online over the four-day period that ended on Sunday, up from last year’s 137 million, according to the results of a survey of nearly 4,500 shoppers conducted for The National Retail Federation. But total spending was expected to fall for the first time ever since the trade group began tracking it in 2006, according to the survey that was released on Sunday afternoon. Over the four days, spending fell an estimated 2.9 percent to $57.4 billion. Shoppers, on average, were expected to spend $407.02 during the four days, down 3.9 percent from last year. That would be the first decline since the 2009 holiday shopping season when the economy was just coming out of the recession. The survey underscores the challenges stores have faced since the recession began in late 2007. Retailers had to offer deeper discounts to get people to shop during the downturn, but Americans still expect those “70 percent off” signs now during the recovery. And stores may have only exacerbated that expectation this year. By offering bargains earlier in the season, it seems they’ve created a vicious cycle in which they’ll need to constantly offer bigger sales. Shoppers who took advantage of “holiday” deals before Thanksgiving may have deal fatigue and are cautious about buying anything else
Categories: Financial News

6 Tips for Surviving the Office Holiday Party

Mon, 12/02/2013 - 4:45am
After a few years when companies avoided throwing holiday parties, corporate America is kicking back with the eggnog again. Executive search firm Battalia Winston’s annual survey found that 96% of companies are going to have holiday parties this year — a 16-year high. So, there’s a good chance you’ll be part of the festivities in the next month. Sure, you know not to be the one with the lampshade on your head, but are you ready? TIME asked some experts in human resources how to avoid the smaller, more common gaffes and awkward moments you’re more likely to face at your office holiday party. What if I space out on someone’s name? This is one of the most common faux pas people make at these events, says Dale Winston, chairwoman and CEO of Battalia Winston. Ideally, Winston says you should brush up on who’s going beforehand. “What you should do is get a list in advance of who will be attending and do a little homework,” she says, to avoid that tongue-tied moment in the first place. If it happens anyway, pick the lesser of two evils. “If you don’t remember the name, don’t introduce the person,” Winston says. “Although it’s rude not to introduce the person you’re talking to, it’s ruder not to remember the name.” How much talking shop is appropriate? “Talking shop is safe to talk when asked by a manager, but keep it short and to the point,” says Amy Letke, founder and CEO of consulting company Integrity HR. “Many a faux pax has been made at holiday parties talking too much shop,” she warns. Letke says a party should be a good opportunity to communicate with your boss in a lower-key setting and get to know your colleagues on a more personal level. So, what am I supposed to talk about? The upcoming holiday is a safe bet, the experts say. “[Ask] what they’re doing for the holiday,” Winston says. “Small talk about them” is generally safe, she says. “People love to talk about themselves.”  Gratitude is
Categories: Financial News

Black Friday Shopping Breaks Records in Stores and Online

Sat, 11/30/2013 - 10:43am
Despite protests against Walmart and a national backlash over stores opening for customers on Thanksgiving day, this year’s Black Friday sales hit record-highs both in stores and online. IBM reported that Black Friday online sales were up 20% over the same time last year, reaching record-breaking levels, according to Tech Crunch. Mobile consumption continued to rise with a 34% increase in traffic over last year’s Black Friday, with sales also improving and accounting for 21.8% of the day’s total online sales, a 43% increase year-over-year. A record-breaking $1 billion was spent online on Thanksgiving day, according to an analysis by Adobe Systems, which examined 180 million visits to more than 1,000 retail sites. Sales on eBay.com shot up 35% through noon EST compared to the same time last year on Black Friday, according to e-commerce firm ChannelAdvisor. Amazon.com sales jumped 25% over the same period, USA Today reports. Meanwhile, Walmart reported its best Black Friday ever, processing approximately 10 million register transactions during a four-hour window on Thursday night, CEO of Walmart USA Bill Simon announced, with in-store traffic and sales remaining strong throughout Friday. Online, the company claims it received 400 million pageviews. Walmart has been mired in controversy since workers rallied against the company for meager pay and remaining open on Thanksgiving. Protesters are asking for $25,000 as an annual minimum wage. [USA Today]
Categories: Financial News

S&P 500 Gains for 8th Straight Week

Fri, 11/29/2013 - 5:14pm
(NEW YORK) — The stock market fizzled Friday at the end of a holiday-shortened trading day, but still logged its longest streak of weekly gains in a decade. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index ended down one point, or 0.1 percent, to 1,805.81. The Dow Jones industrial average slipped 10 points, or 0.1 percent, to 16,086.41. Investors watched for early trends in holiday sales as the busiest shopping day of the year, Black Friday, got underway. Retailers were one of two industry groups in the S&P 500 to rise. Stocks overall have surged this year as the economy maintains a slow but steady recovery and corporations keep earnings growing. Demand for stocks also has been bolstered by Federal Reserve policies that have held down interest rates, making bonds less attractive investments than stocks. Stocks rose for most of the day Friday, but petered out in the last half hour of trading. The New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq closed early, at 1 p.m. Eastern Time, and activity was lower than average a day after Thanksgiving. Thin trading can lead to sudden swings in markets. Although the S&P 500 and Dow slipped, the Nasdaq composite rose 15 points, or 0.4 percent, to end at 4,059.89. The index has surged 34 percent this year, more than the other two indexes. And even though the S&P 500 eased Friday, it still rose for an eighth straight week, its longest stretch of weekly advances in a decade. The broad stock index saw two of its 10 industry groups rise. One of them was consumer discretionary companies as investors hoped for improved holiday sales. More than a dozen major chains opened on Thanksgiving Day and planned to keep their doors open through Friday, the traditional start to the holiday shopping season. Crowds formed early and often throughout the two days. Investors will be following sales trends closely to get a read on the health of retailers, as well as the wider economy. Consumer spending is a critical component of the U.S. economy. Retail sales are expected to
Categories: Financial News

What You Need To Know About Cyber Monday

Fri, 11/29/2013 - 11:18am
Online shopping tips for Cyber Monday & beyond.
Categories: Financial News

Money Talking: Have We Reached a Stock Market Top?

Fri, 11/29/2013 - 8:42am
A lot of iconic companies in the tech sector like HP, Cisco and Blackberry have been struggling recently. On this week’s episode of Money Talking on WNYC, Time‘s Rana Foroohar and the New York Times‘ Joe Nocera  examine why these firms are faltering and whether they may be canaries in the coal mine for a potential drop in the stock market.
Categories: Financial News

Black Friday: 20 Great Online Deals for Those Avoiding the Mall

Fri, 11/29/2013 - 8:32am
Virtually every retailer in America is hosting big sales today. But you don’t have to leave your home or office to take advantage. Despite the perception to the contrary, the majority of consumers are not hitting the stores today. For everyone wise enough to avoid traffic on roads and in store aisles today, here’s a top 20 roundup of e-retail promotions. Pretty much every department store, electronics specialist, and other retail websites have special Black Friday offers this weekend, but we’re focusing mainly on those with across-the-board discounts on every item sold, so that there is no hunting and pecking for bargains. Whatever you want can be had for a substantial markdown off the original price. We’re talking deals like 40%, 50%, even 60% off everything sitewide—you know, the kinds of sales that make you regret ever having paid full price for anything at these stores: Abercrombie & Fitch: There’s a 40% off everything sale on Black Friday, no promotional code necessary. Aeropostale: There’s a 60% off everything sale (with a few exclusions) on Black Friday at the Aeropostale website, no promotional code necessary. American Eagle: 40% off everything plus free shipping with any purchase, no promo code required. Ann Taylor: Get 40% off sitewide with the code GET40. (That’s pretty good, though not quite as good as the 50% off offer that was available just for purchases on Thanksgiving Day 2013. It wouldn’t be surprising if another 50% off coupon surfaced, perhaps as soon as Cyber Monday.) Apple Store: The rarely seen Apple Store promotion has surfaced on Black Friday, with free Apple Store gift cards included in various purchases — $75 with the purchase of an iPad Air, for instance, and a $150 card with every iMac or MacBook Pro bought. (MORE: The Essential Shopping Guide to the Epic Thanksgiving-Black Friday Weekend) Banana Republic: A discount of 40% is applied to your entire purchase with the use of the coupon code BRGIVING. Barnes and Noble: Through December 2, knock 30% off the price of one item with the promo
Categories: Financial News

Americans Kicked Off a Holiday Shopping Marathon

Fri, 11/29/2013 - 4:12am
Holiday shopping this year is a marathon, not a sprint. More than a dozen major retailers from Wal-Mart to Target to Toys R Us opened on Thanksgiving Day and planned to stay open through Black Friday, the traditional start to the holiday shopping season. As a result, crowds formed early and often throughout the two days. The holiday shopping season is transforming right before shoppers’ eyes. For nearly a decade, Black Friday, which was initially named that because it was historically when retailers turned a profit for the year, had been the official start to the busy buying binge sandwiched between Thanksgiving and Christmas. But in the past few years, retailers have pushed opening times into Thanksgiving night. Some like Macy’s and J.C. Penney opened on Thanksgiving for the first time this year. Others like Gap Inc., which owns Banana Republic, Gap and Old Navy, opened some of its stores earlier on Thanksgiving than the year before. And many pushed up the discounting that used to be reserved for Black Friday into early November. A Kmart store in midtown Manhattan in New York City was packed with people shopping for clothing and holiday decor items. The discounter opened at 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving and planned to stay open for 41 hours straight. Clothing was marked down from 30 percent to 50 percent. New Yorker Adriana Tavaraz, 51, had just finished work at a travel agency at around 4 p.m. before heading over to Kmart to spend $105 on ornaments, Santa hats and other holiday decor. She saved about 50 percent. Meanwhile, William Darrell, 57, an accountant who was visiting New York City from Bermuda stopped by Kmart to do some shopping. He bought two pairs of Tom McCan shoes for a total of $34. “It’s an excellent deal,” he said. This year, the holiday shopping season is transforming right before shoppers’ eyes. For nearly a decade, Black Friday, so named because it was historically when retailers turned a profit, had been the official start to the busy buying binge between
Categories: Financial News

Small Company Helps Twitter Make Money

Fri, 11/29/2013 - 3:07am
(DENVER) — Twitter just issued its IPO but a lingering question is how the popular worldwide microblog company will turn a profit. One Colorado-based company thinks it has found one way to help Twitter, and itself, make money. Wayin has partnered up with the Denver Broncos to project tweeted photos and tweets from fans onto the Sports Authority Field at Mile High’s Thundervision 2, the stadium’s marquee 40-foot high, by 220 foot wide video scoreboard. The software allows ads to be placed next to the tweets to generate revenue. It’s unclear how that could impact Twitter’s bottom line. None of the companies would discuss how much money is generated through the deal. The Broncos rolled out Wayin’s software during the game versus division rival Kansas City Chiefs on Nov. 17. The team uses the software to search terms or so-called hashtags to find tweets by category from the thousands sent about the game and then pick the ones to send to the scoreboard and 1,100 television screens throughout the stadium, as well as to the Broncos social media hub on the Web. “The key is that we’re not just going to put up anything and everything because as you can imagine, there are some things you don’t want to pull right in,” said Sandy Young, senior marketing manager for the Broncos who is responsible for picking the tweets. It’s unclear how many companies such as Wayin, co-founded by Sun Microsystems founder Scott McNealy, are out there striking deals with companies to use the Twitter feed. Twitter declined to discuss the matter. “It’s no secret that Twitter has become the roar of the crowd during televised games, but we’re also seeing teams embrace Twitter for the in-stadium experience,” Geoff Reiss, head of sports at Twitter said in a statement. Experts estimate that Twitter makes 85 percent of its money through so-called “native” advertising that shows up on the feed in the form of text, said Michael Myers, a business professor at the University of Denver. “I think they’ll experiment with how
Categories: Financial News

Federal Judge Says Airline Merger Can Take Flight

Thu, 11/28/2013 - 1:29pm
A federal bankruptcy judge has okayed American Airlines and U.S. Airways to complete their merger, which will create the world’s largest airline, the Associated Press reports. The judge ruled on Wednesday that a settlement that took place this month of an antitrust lawsuit filed by the federal government did not affect American Airlines’ bankruptcy-reorganization plan, which includes the merger. He rejected an appeal by a group of consumers to temporarily block the deal. The Justice Department had sued to block the merger in August, claiming that it would hurt competition and drive up prices. But the case was settled when American Airlines agreed to give up landing rights at key spots at Reagan National Airport near Washington, D.C. and LaGuardia Airport in New York City, among other airports. American announced plans to complete the deal on Dec. 9. The new American Airlines will be slightly bigger than United Airlines. After the merger, four airlines — American, United, Delta and Southwest — will control 80% of the market. [AP]
Categories: Financial News

Pizza Hut Manager Who Was Fired for Closing on Thanksgiving Gets Job Back

Thu, 11/28/2013 - 10:35am
After a Pizza Hut manager in Indiana announced that he had been fired for refusing to open on Thanksgiving day, Pizza Hut offered him his job back. Tony Rohr has worked at the franchise in Elkhart, Indiana, for more than 10 years. He says that when he objected to opening on the holiday, he was told to write a letter of resignation, CNN reports. ”Thanksgiving and Christmas are the only two days that they’re closed in the whole year,” Rohr said. “And they’re the only two days that those people are guaranteed to have off to spend with their families.” Rohr wrote a letter explaining why the store should close and, he says, was fired shortly thereafter. The local Pizza Hut franchise says that he quit but that they have agreed to hire him back. “We fully respect an employee’s right to not work on a holiday, which is why the vast majority of Pizza Huts in America are closed on Thanksgiving,” the corporate office said in a statement. “As a result, we strongly recommended that the local franchisee reinstate the store manager and they have agreed. We look forward to them welcoming Tony back to the team.” Rohr has not said whether he will take the job back. [CNN]
Categories: Financial News

Whole Foods Employees Strike for Thanksgiving Off

Thu, 11/28/2013 - 10:00am
A handful of Whole Foods workers at two stores went on strike in Chicago Wednesday to protest working on Thanksgiving. A handful of employees walked out of one store in the morning and joined a rally with fast-food and Wal-Mart employees later in the afternoon. Whole Foods employee Matthew Camp told Salon, “I think it will be disruptive, but that’s kind of the point: to disrupt the flow of things.” Camp said his shift at Whole Foods on the holiday would prevent him from flying home to Texas to see his family. Whole Foods representatives say their policy is to not force anyone to work on Thanksgiving, that it is purely voluntary. Workers disagreed, saying that there was an expectation everyone would work unless they specifically requested time off. Whole Foods employees are just some of many workers pushing back against the growing trend of stores being open on Thanksgiving, as well as Black Friday. However, many families depend on grocers being open for last-minute cooking necessities. [Salon]
Categories: Financial News

PetroChina Buys Stake in Iraq Project from Exxon

Thu, 11/28/2013 - 7:15am
(BAGHDAD) — State-owned PetroChina says it has acquired a share in a development project of one of Iraq’s most promising oil fields from U.S. major Exxon Mobil. Thursday’s statement says Exxon handed over 25 percent of the consortium to the Chinese oil giant in the 8.6-bilion-barrel West Qurna-1 field in southern Basra region. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. In a 2009 deal with Iraq, Exxon acquired a 60 percent stake and Royal Dutch Shell 15 percent, with the rest held by Iraq’s Oil Ministry. But in 2011, Exxon infuriated Baghdad by unilaterally signing a deal with the self-ruled Kurdish region to hunt for oil in their region and in disputed territories. Since then, Exxon has sought to exit the deal so it could focus on the Kurdish region.
Categories: Financial News

Lumps of Coal: The Worst Store Credit Card Offers of the Season

Thu, 11/28/2013 - 4:45am
This time of year, you can hardly stroll past a store or log onto a retailer’s website without getting bombarded with offers for special financing via that merchant’s proprietary credit card. Many of them tout no-interest financing for a year, two years — sometimes even longer. But not all of these deals are created equal. All come with fine print; namely, if you don’t pay off everything by the time that promo period expires, you’ll get socked with back interest for the entire term. The devil is in the details. Some offers come with sky-high interest rates and possibly even more fees. Some deals bury these important facts in the fine print. Others pitch ancillary products like credit protection that many mainstream cards have dropped in the face of disciplinary action from financial regulators. Credit experts flag the following offers as ones to be wary of this holiday season. Amazon.com came in second-to-last on CardHub.com‘s recent ranking of retailer financing transparency. Although it touts interest-free financing for six, 12 and 24 months for different promotions on its store card in big blue print on its site, it’s a little harder to find out that cardholders will be paying nearly 26% in interest after the teaser ends. CardHub says Amazon’s poor score is because of “the small print in which information was disclosed and it being burried in text.” For all three offers, that very important number is lurking just a few lines from the bottom of a long paragraph of information. Best Buy has several financing offers, but only when you dig into the fine print does a customer discover that the most generous offer — a four-year payment term — isn’t at 0%. “Best Buy’s cards have an astronomical APR, but tout ‘financing offers’ for purchases totaling various amounts.  However, that financing offer is at 11.90%–not the 0% intro you would expect,” warns Amber Stubbs, managing editor of CardRatings.com. Promotions with shorter terms — the electronics chain’s site hawks six, 12- and 24-month teaser periods for different programs — are
Categories: Financial News

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