The European Central Bank extends its loans to Greece, McDonald's is closing more restaurants than it is opening in 2015, and News Corp is reorganizing. These and other top news items are here for June 19, 2015.
The ECB Extends Greek Assistance
CNBC and Reuters reported Friday the European Central Bank (ECB) has raised the funding cap on its Emergency Liquidity Assistance for Greece’s under-siege banks by 3.3 billion euros ($3.7 billion) after an emergency meeting of euro zone finance ministers Thursday night. There was questions whether Greek banks would be able to open for business Monday if the fund was not extended. There are also concerns over a run on Greek banks after another round of reforms failed to produce a rescue plan. The valuation of Greek banks has dropped by nearly a third since the start of June because of the state of the system’s fail-safes.
NBC Relocates Brian Williams
NBC Universal announced Thursday that news anchor Brian Williams will be reassigned as an anchor of breaking news and special reports on MSNBC. Williams was suspended from his role as anchor of “Nightly News” in February for fabricating a story about being onboard a helicopter when it was attacked in Iraq. Lester Holt, who anchored the “Nightly News” in Williams’ absence, is now the permanent anchor of that show, the network said. Williams began anchoring the “Nightly News” in 2004 but was roundly criticized and eventually suspended after it was discovered he made up a story about being aboard a U.S. military helicopter that was hit by a grenade during the first days of the Iraq War in 2003.
News Corp Reorganizing
News Corp, which owns the Dow Jones news publishing division and the Wall Street Journal, is going to conduct a major reorganization of its news divisions, including substantial job cuts and shifting of resources into digital media functions and core coverage areas. The memo sent out Thursday by Gerard Baker, the editor in chief of Dow Jones and the WSJ, said the cuts and moves were part of a “full transformation of our newsroom with a bold but simple aim: to become the premier digital news organization in the world.” Cuts could eventually reach as many as 100, according to sources. Dow Jones will close its bureaus in Prague and Helsinki, and reduce staff in other bureaus in Europe and Asia.
Contraction Under the Arches
McDonalds deserves a break today. The reigning burger chain announced Thursday that for the first time in 45 years, it plans to close more restaurants than it opens this year. While the company survived the recession with its popular Dollar Menu, it has in recent years faced pushback, especially from Millennials looking for fresher, healthier fare. A new breed of “better burger" chains such as Five Guys Burgers and Fries is also taking away customers, the Associated Press notes. The company did not provide a list of locations expected to close, but they will be a mix of franchised and company-owned locations. McDonald's remains by far the country's biggest hamburger chain with more than twice as many restaurants as No. 2 Burger King. It plans to add about 300 restaurants to its worldwide total of more than 36,000.
Gauge of Economy Rises 0.7 Percent in May
Is the economy heating up? The Conference Board said Thursday that its index of leading indicators rose 0.7 percent in May, matching the gain in the previous month, the Associated Press reports. Both months represented the strongest increase since a 1 percent rise last July. The recent strength was "confirming the outlook for more economic expansion in the second half of the year after what looks to be a much weaker first half,” said Ataman Ozyildirim, director of business cycle research for the Conference Board. The index of leading indicators is composed of 10 forward-pointing indicators. Nine of the 10 showed strength in May led by a big surge in applications for building permits. One indicator, average weekly hours worked in manufacturing, was unchanged in May.
Fitbit in Great Shape with IPO
Well, someone’s looking buff today. Fitbit shares jumped as much as 60 percent Thursday as the maker of fitness-tracking bracelets became among the year’s 10 biggest IPOS, Time magazine reports. On Wednesday night, the company said it had priced its initial public offering at $20 a share. The IPO raised nearly $740 million. Fitbit is the second U.S. wearable technology company to go public, following action camera-maker GoPro, Time noted. It is also one of the few companies to have gone public this year that are profitable. Sales at the company rose 174 percent last year to $745 million.