On day three of the government shutdown, stocks fell in early trading amidst the protracted stalemate and a lackluster jobless claims report. Read more about the day's top business news stories.
Day 3: Stocks Fall Again
On the third day of the government shutdown, stocks fell again as the stalemate continues and the deadline for raising the U.S. debt ceiling looms. The Dow, Nasdaq and S&P 500 were all lower in early trading.
Labor Department Reports Slight Rise in Jobless Claims
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose by 1,000 but remained at pre-recession levels, signaling a continued growth in the labor market, according to the Labor Department. The seasonally adjusted number of jobless claims was 308,000. The Labor Department numbers figure to be the only job statistics released this week from the federal government because of the shutdown. The monthly employment report due on Friday is not expected to be released. New jobless claims have falling for much of this year and for weeks there have been fewer of them than even before the 2007-09 recession began, a signal that the long cycle of elevated layoffs had ended. According to business consultant company Challenger, Gray $ Christmas, the number of planned layoffs at U.S. firms fell 20 percent in September.
Beanie Baby Billionaire Pleads Guilty to Tax Evasion
Ty Warner, a college dropout who became a billionaire after creating the once-popular collectible Beanie Babies, plead guilty Wednesday to one count of tax evasion for hiding $25 million in income in Swiss bank accounts and failing to pay taxes of about $5.6 million. One of his hidden foreign accounts had at one point as much as $107 million. Warner, 69, wept in the Chicago courtroom as he apologized for his actions, The Chicago Tribune reports. His 18-page plea deal says guidelines call for a prison term of around four years. It also requires he pay a $53 million civil penalty. The iconic plush toys were all the rage in the 1990s. Forbes recently put Warner’s wealth at $2.6 billion.
A Bid for BlackBerry?
The private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management is interested in a bid for Canadian smartphone maker BlackBerry, The Associated Press reports. The investment group is preparing to sign a confidentiality agreement to examine BlackBerry's finances for a possible counter-offer to a $4.7 billion buyout plan agreed last month. BlackBerry said on September 23 it signed a letter of intent for the buyout, which translates to $9 a share, led by Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited, BlackBerry’s largest shareholder. The deal is subject to due diligence by Fairfax and allows BlackBerry to consider other offers. Some analysts, according to the AP, have said they believe the Fairfax buyout will not take place, and that it was done to elicit other offers. According to International Data Corporation, BlackBerry's global market share had slipped to 3.7 percent in the second quarter, the lowest since tracking began. Android accounts for nearly 80 percent. Last month, the company announced it was laying off one-third of its global workforce after the disappointing launch of its new smartphone earlier this year.
The Empire State Building: An IPO to Remember
One of New York’s iconic tourist attractions made its market debut Wednesday more than a year-and-a-half after its owner, Empire State Realty Trust Inc., announced its intention to go public. The Empire State Building, once New York City's tallest skyscraper when it was completed in 1931, is famous for its magnificent views of the city and has been immortalized in such films as “King Kong,” “An Affair to Remember” and “Sleepless in Seattle,” After a day of heavy trading, the stock ended up 10 cents, or less than 1 percent, to $13.10. Empire State Realty Trust also owns 11 other office properties in New York and Connecticut. It raised about $754 million after expenses. The company sold about 71.5 million shares for $13 each, the low end of its prior estimate of $13 to $15 per share. It listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol "ESRT."
Sears Gears up for the Holidays with $1 Billion Loan
Sears Holding Corp announced Wednesday it has borrowed #1 billion through a new secured loan to prepare for the holiday season and pay other debts, The Chicago Tribune reports. The beleaguered retailer’s borrowing is up nearly three-fold from 2012. Having cash on hand for the crucial fourth quarter holiday selling season is crucial for retailers to pay for inventory increases and marketing initiatives to compete for shoppers.
Cuban to Testify in Insider Trading Lawsuit Against Him
Billionaire Mark Cuban is scheduled to testify Thursday in the federal lawsuit against him for insider trading. He will be asked about a phone call made in 2004 between himself and the CEO of a Canadian search-engine. Cuban is expected to say that he never promised to refrain from selling his shares in an Internet company after learning news that would cause their value to fall. The Mamma.com CEO claims Cuban knew at the start of the conversation that he would be learning confidential information. He said he told Cuban his plans to sell more stock and lower the value of Cuban’s stake in the company and Cuban responded “Now I’m screwed. I can’t sell.” Cuban sold his 600,000 shares of stock anyway, and says he never made the comment he is alleged to have made.
Holiday Sales Expected to be Higher, Unless Shutdown Continues
The National Retail Federation reports that holiday sales for November and December will be up 3.9 percent from last year to $602.1 billion. That’s higher than last year’s 3.5 percent increase. However, NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay told the Associated Press the forecast was calculated before the government shut down this week over the failure to pass a spending bill. Shay said the shutdown could affect American optimism in the economy and that could then affect holiday sales. "What we are trying to balance here is the underlying fundamentals with the economy, which seem strong, against all that consumer unease and the uncertainty coming from Washington," Shay said.