Producer prices drop, gas prices rise, and a Trump building sign lights up a feud in Chicago. Read about these and more of the day's top business news stories.
U.S. Producer Prices Drop in May
The Labor Department Friday announced that U.S. producer prices fell in May as costs declined widely. It is an indication that inflation pressures are non-existent in today’s economy. The index for final demand slipped 0.2 percent, a deep drop from the 0.6 percent increase reported in April. The April gain was the largest in 18 months. Economists polled by Reuters had expected a rise in producer prices of 0.1 percent. The PPI numbers are different in 2014 with the addition of services and construction, and as a result the percentages change significantly because of prices received for trade services.
Iraq Tensions Expected to Fuel Gas Price Hikes
The escalating tensions in Iraq have pushed crude oil prices to eight-month highs, fueling concerns that gasoline prices will climb over the summer months, The Associated Press reports. Jumps in crude oil as militants ley siege to oil-rich northern Iraq are likely to drive the pump price of unleaded gasoline up 5 to 10 cents in the coming days, analysts forecast. The current price is $3.64 a gallon. Iraqi oil production has already been cut by about 10 percent, or about 300,000 barrels a day, since March. Gasoline averaged $3.58 a gallon between Memorial Day and Labor Day last year. But retail prices have averaged about $3.65 for the past month. Higher demand, lower-than-expected supplies and declining production propped up crude oil prices before militants escalated their attacks, the AP reports.
Tesla: Take Our Patents, Please
In a blog post Thursday, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk said he is opening up the company's patents to any automaker that wants to build electric cars. “Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology," he wrote. "If we clear a path to the creation of compelling electric vehicles, but then lay intellectual property landmines behind us to inhibit others, we are acting in a manner contrary to that goal," he said. The company will continue to file patents to protect its future innovations, he said. Shares of Tesla fell more than 1 percenton the announcement, but have climbed about 35 percent so far this year. Musk said the company filed for patents when it first launched because he worried that big car companies would "copy our technology and then use their massive manufacturing, sales and marketing power to overwhelm Tesla."
Chicago Mayor Wants to Fire Trump Sign
In a city renowned for its architecture, a new sign erected on the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago has lit up a feud between Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the billionaire real estate mogul and reality show host. On Thursday, Emmanuel’s office released a statement complaining about the “architecturally tasteless” sign on the city’s second-tallest building. Twenty-foot-high letters spell out Trump’s name on the 96-story building and are in the process of being installed. “It’s a very popular sign,” people are loving it,” Trump told Reuters. The sign received a thumbs-down from the Chicago Tribune’s Pulitzer-Prize-winning architecture critic (whom Trump characteristically dismissed as “third-rate”). The Chicago City Council signed off on Trump’s sign, which is in accordance with city code. The sign’s defenders further contend that the structure Trump’s building replaced featured a sign that was just as big. Trump contends his new sign will become as iconic as the Hollywood sign in Los Angeles.
P.F. Chang Gets Hacked
Customers of P.F. Chang China Bistro are being warned the company suffered a security breach that may have led to the theft of information from thousands of customer credit and debit cards. The company is uncertain just how wide the breach was but confirms it has found some data has been compromised. The restaurants are now using a manual credit card imprinting system until the breach can be closed. There is a website, www.pfchangs.com/security where customers can receive up-to-date information on the breach. The company is urging customers to check their credit card and bank statements and contact their financial institutions if they notice any unusual activity.
Priceline Adds Dinner Reservation Service
Priceline, the discount travel website, said Friday it is buying online dinner reservation service OpenTable for $2.6 billion, or $103 per share. As a result, OpenTable stock climbed 13 percent to about $79 in premarket trading. "OpenTable is a great match for The Priceline Group,’’ said Priceline Group CEO and President Darren Huston. “They provide us with a natural extension into restaurant marketing services and a wonderful and highly-valued booking experience for our global customers.” The deal is expected to close in the third quarter. Since its inception in 2008, OpenTable has seated more than 125 million customers globally.