China and Japan, the world's second and third-largest economies, hit new stumbling blocks. Read about these and more of the day's top business news stories.
No Shutdown, No Default, McConnell Vows
On Friday, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew asked Congress to raise the statutory cap on borrowing "as soon as possible." On Sunday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said there is no rush, but that Congress would act in time to avoid Washington defaulting on its debt. "The debt ceiling will be handled over a period of months," McConnell said during an interview on CBS' "Face the Nation.” The government is expected to exhaust its borrowing authority around March 15, but it can take emergency steps to continue paying its bills. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates such steps will be exhausted sometime in October or November, Reuters reports.
“Chappie” Outperforms the Competition
“Chappie,” an R-rated film about a thinking, feeling robot, topped the box office in an underwhelming weekend in which total receipts failed to exceed $100 million for the first time since the Dec. 12-14 weekend. “Focus,” the Will Smith romantic con-man caper, came in second with just over $10 million. “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” came in third with $8.6 million, with 60 percent of the audience over 55 and 81 percent female. Rounding out the top five were “Kingsman: The Secret Service” and “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water.” Vince Vaughn is in desperate need of a Vaughassance. His new film, “Unfinished Business,” bombed in its opening weekend, coming in 10th with just $4.8 million, the actor’s lowest opening weekend ever.
China Exports Surge, Imports Shrink
While China’s exports surged 48.3 percent in February, imports shrank for the second consecutive month, a new sign of weakness in the world’s second-largest economy, the Associated Press reports. China's imports contracted in February for the second consecutive month in a new sign of weakness in the world's second-largest economy. Combined with January’s 19.9 percent decline, that brought the contraction in imports to 20.2 percent so far this year.
Japan 4th Quarter Growth Revised Downward
Japan, the world’s third-largest economy, grew less in the final quarter of 2014 than earlier estimated, revised government data reported Monday. The Japanese economy expanded 0.4 percent in the October-December period from the previous quarter. This is down from the initial estimate of 0.6 percent growth.
A Sad Note: New York’s Last Classical Sheet Music Store Closes
Frank Music Company, New York City's last remaining store dedicated to selling classical sheet music, closed over the weekend, CNN reports. Heidi Rogers, the store's owner said dwindling sales killed the shop. Frank’s joins other venerable classical sheet music stores that were victims of the digital age. Portland’s Sheet Music Service closed in 2010 after nearly a century of existence. The Music Center of San Francisco closed in 2012. New York lost the Joseph Patelson Music House in 2009, followed by Dowling Music in 2013. An anonymous donor bought Rogers’ remaining books as a gift for the Colburn School, a Los Angeles conservatory, she told CNN.
“American Sniper” 2014’s Top Grossing Film
Clint Eastwood’s “American Sniper” has been crowned last year’s top grossing film at the box office, overtaking “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay—Part 1.” The latter earned $336.9 million, but as of this weekend, “Sniper” finally shot it down with $337.2 million grossed since its limited release in December. It is also the highest-grossing war-themed film worldwide with $500.2 million. “Sniper” confounded all expectations. It was America’s No. 1 film at the box office for three consecutive weekends, and blew away box office records over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday and Super Bowl weekends.