Retail sales dipped in September, Thanksgiving shopping comes earlier to Macy's and Ireland to close a tax shelter. Read about these and more of the morning's top business news stories.
September Swoon for U.S. Retail Prices
U.S. retail sales fell in September for the first time in eight months. The 0.3 percent decline in retail sales would have been sharper if not for the release of the new iPhones. The sales lag was chiefly due to fewer purchases of cars, trucks and gasoline, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. E-tailers, clothing outlets and home improvement stores each saw a decline in sales. The exception was electronics stores, where sales surged 3.4 percent, the biggest gain in a year-and-a-half. Retail sales comprise about one-fourth of consumer spending, the main engine of U.S. economic activity.
Small Business Optimism Drops to Seven-Year Low
The National Federation of Independent Business reported Tuesday its Small Business Optimism Index fell 0.8 point in September to 95.3. The index is currently five points below where it was before the start of the 2007-2009 economic collapse and recession. More small-business owners said they expected a slowdown in profits and sales, tightening credit conditions and a harder time filling job openings, the survey said. Six of the index's 10 components fell in the survey of 608 randomly-selected small business owners. Still, more business owners said they believed it was a good time to expand their firms and expected better conditions in six months.
Thanksgiving Dinner Will be Earlier This Year for Macy’s Shoppers
Macy’s issued the first salvo Tuesday in the Black Friday with its announcement it will open its stores at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving, two hours earlier than last year. Macy's is the first major retailer to announce store hours for the Black Friday weekend, the kickoff to the holiday shopping season. Last year marked the first time the department store opened its doors at 8 p.m., after opening at midnight in the several years prior, the Associated Press reports. The earlier opening is "in response to the significant, sustained customer interest in last year's opening on Thanksgiving...," the company stated.
Luck of the Irish Runs Out for Tax Shelters
Ireland on Tuesday announced plans to end a corporate accounting rule that permitted hundreds of U.S. multinationals with European bases in Ireland to shift their non-American profits between two Irish-registered companies and avoid tax. The tactic would be outlawed for new applicants beginning Jan; 1, while existing beneficiaries will have until the end of 2020 to find different tax shelters. The announcement came in conjunction with the unveiling of Ireland’s 2015 budget, which marks the end of an era of austerity following the collapse six years ago of the Celtic Tiger economy, USA TODAY reports. The country was near bankruptcy in 2010.
Mark Zuckerberg Donates $25 Million to Ebola Fight
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, are donating $25 million to the CDC Foundation to help address the Ebola epidemic, the Associated Press reports. The money will be used by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Ebola response effort in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone and elsewhere in the world where Ebola is a threat, the foundation announced Tuesday. The World Health Organization said West Africa could see up to 10,000 new Ebola cases a week within two months and confirmed that the death rate in the current outbreak is now 70 percent. The disease has killed more than 4,000 people, nearly all of them in West Africa.
Chrysler Recalls 184,000 SUVs
Chrysler has issued a worldwide recall of 184,215 SUVs because a wiring problem could disable their air bags and seat belt pretensioners, which tighten belts during a crash to hold passengers in place. The recall involves the 2014 model year Dodge Durango and Jeep Grand Cherokee. Most are in the U.S., but 57,443 SUVs are in Canada, Mexico and elsewhere. A short circuit in the restraint control module could cause the air bag warning lamps to illuminate. If that happens, the air bags and seat belt pretensioners may not work. Chrysler says it's unaware of any injuries related to the problem.
Stop the Presses! SF Bay Guardian Stops Publishing
After almost a half century, the San Francisco Bay Guardian, a left-leaning weekly alternative newspaper, has ceased publishing after its parent company pulled funding for its operations. The
The 48-year old paper announced on its website the final issue will be distributed on Wednesday.In a staff e-mail obtained by local blog SFist.com, Glenn G. Zuehls, publisher of the paper's parent company, the San Francisco Media Co., told employees that "the amount of money that the Bay Guardian loses each week is causing damage to the heart of the company and cannot justify its continued publication."