Business Highlights


Government: No benefit hike for Social Security next year

WASHINGTON (AP) — Older Americans got a double dose of bad news Thursday: There will be no cost-of-living increase in Social Security benefits next year, and Medicare bills are set to soar for many.

It’s just the third time in 40 years that Social Security payments will remain flat.

The annual cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, by law is based on a government measure of inflation that was released Thursday. Low gas prices are driving down consumer prices. Currently the average price of a gallon of regular gasoline is $2.30, about 90 cents less than it was a year ago, according to AAA.


New technology in credit cards leads to headaches for some

NEW YORK (AP) — Millions of Americans are getting new credit and debit cards with more secure chip technology, and that’s causing headaches for companies that rely on working cards to charge their customers every month.

Video and music streaming companies, dating websites, gyms and other subscription-based companies can take a hit when customers don’t update their accounts after receiving a new card. It’s always been a hassle, but with millions of cards carrying the new chip technology being mailed out all at once it’s creating bigger problems. Netflix this week said large numbers of cards that weren’t updated were partly to blame for slower subscriber growth in their most recent quarter.


Valeant subpoenaed over patient assistance program, pricing

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. says that two federal prosecutors have subpoenaed the Canadian drugmaker, seeking information on its drug pricing, distribution and patient assistance policies.

It comes amid rising criticism of sky-high prices for new prescription drugs for cancer, hepatitis C and other illnesses, which carry list prices in the $100,000-a-year range. Condemnation by patients, doctors and insurers has been mounting steadily for a couple years, then escalated in the past several months over news Valeant and a handful of other drugmakers have been hiking the prices of old drugs many times over their prior cost.


German order triggers recall of 8.5M VW cars in Europe

BERLIN (AP) — German authorities on Thursday ordered a recall of all Volkswagen cars fitted with emissions test-cheating software, a decision that will affect 8.5 million VW diesel vehicles across the 28-nation European Union.

The Federal Motor Transport Authority announced that the recall would affect 2.4 million vehicles in Germany. Under EU rules, cars that are cleared in one country are automatically approved across the bloc, so the repeal also affects Volkswagen vehicles elsewhere in the union.


Survey finds China passes US in number of billionaires

BEIJING (AP) — China has passed the United States in the number of billionaires, driven by the rise of fortunes in technology and manufacturing, according to a survey released Thursday.

Despite a cooling economy, the number of Chinese billionaires rose by 242 this year to 596, according to The Hurun Report, which follows China’s wealthy. It said that surpassed the 537 the company found in the United States.


First Data debut, Albertsons delay show cooling IPO market

NEW YORK (AP) — The largest initial public offering of the year fell short of expectations and the proposed second-largest was postponed in a sign that IPOs are struggling while investors worry about the health of the global markets.

Late Wednesday payment technology company First Data said its IPO priced at $2.56 billion. The offering was by far the largest of the 2015, but First Data had expected to raise hundreds of millions more. Meanwhile Albertsons Cos., the second-largest supermarket operator in the U.S., said it would delay its own offering because of the volatile state of the markets.


Treasury warns Congress: Debt limit deadline now Nov. 3

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Treasury Department on Thursday told Congress that it needs to act or the government will be dangerously close to being unable to pay all its bills.

That is sooner than anticipated but some GOP lawmaker feel Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew is trying to rush them into approving an increase in the governments $18.1 million borrowing limit.

If the government runs out of cash, it cannot meet obligations such as interest payments, Medicare payments and Social Security checks. The government has never defaulted on its obligations, and a severe market reaction would be all but certain if it did.


US budget gap for 2015 at $439 billion, lowest in 8 years

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. budget deficit for 2015 has fallen to its lowest level in eight years, spurred by gains in tax revenue that outpaced greater government spending.

The Treasury Department said Thursday that the deficit in the just-completed 2015 budget year fell to $439 billion from $483 billion in 2014. It is equal to 2.5 percent of the economy, the smallest proportion since 2007, and below the average of the past 40 years.

The latest figures coincide with intensifying budget battles in Washington. Congress and the White House face an early November deadline to raise the nation’s borrowing limit. Lawmakers are seeking a separate agreement with the Obama administration on a budget to keep the government open past a Dec. 11 deadline.


US stocks advance; Citigroup gains on strong earnings

NEW YORK (AP) — Financial stocks surged on Thursday, helping push the market to its biggest gain in almost two weeks.

Citigroup jumped after reporting that its earnings rose sharply in the third quarter as the bank continued to cut expenses and clean up its books in the wake of the financial crisis. KeyCorp also climbed after posting solid earnings.

The reports cheered investors, who have been looking for good news to boost stocks since a summer sell-off roiled the markets. However, the optimism may be short-lived. Third-quarter earnings are forecast to contract overall as falling energy prices and weak global demand start to eat into profits.


UnitedHealth again looks to fast-growing businesses in 3Q

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — UnitedHealth Group’s third-quarter profit slipped, but the nation’s largest health insurer still beat Wall Street expectations due in part to prescription drug management and its other fast-growing businesses.

Revenue from the Minneapolis company’s Optum unit, which controls fast-growing businesses like prescription management, jumped 61 percent to $19.3 billion after UnitedHealth bought Catamaran, a pharmacy benefits manager, in a deal valued at more than $12 billion.


Goldman Sachs earnings fall 38 percent, missing forecasts

NEW YORK (AP) — Goldman Sachs posted as a 38 percent drop in earnings in the third quarter on Thursday, missing analysts estimates, as the Wall Street bank was hurt by recent market turbulence and lower commodity prices.

Goldman said it had net income of $1.33 billion after payments to preferred shareholders, or $2.90 a share, down from $2.14 billion, or $4.57 a share, in the same period a year ago. Net revenue at the investment bank dropped by 18 percent to $6.86 billion from $8.39 billion a year earlier.


Citigroup’s earnings surge 36 percent, beating estimates

NEW YORK (AP) — Citigroup said Thursday its earnings jumped 36 percent in the third quarter as the bank continued to cut expenses and clean up its books in the wake of the financial crisis.

The New York-based bank earned $3.99 billion, or $1.31 per share, excluding payments to preferred shareholders and an accounting adjustment, for the three-month period ending in September. That compares with earnings of $2.94 billion, or 95 cents a share, in the same period a year earlier.

Citi’s latest earnings beat analysts’ estimates of $1.27 a share, according to FactSet.

Citi has been on a multi-year mission to recover from its near collapse during the financial crisis, and 2015 has been a year of significant progress.


Kia recalls over 419,000 SUVs to fix shift lever problem

DETROIT (AP) — Kia will recall more than 419,000 SUVs in the U.S. and Canada because the transmission can be shifted out of park when the driver’s foot isn’t on the brake, a violation of safety laws.

The recall covers Sorentos from the 2011 through 2013 model years. The cars can roll away unexpectedly and cause a crash, Kia says in documents posted Thursday by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The problem happens when the gear shift lever is pushed too hard, causing a part in the shift mechanism to crack. It has caused three injuries.


By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 217 points, or 1.3 percent, to 17,141.75. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 29.62 points, or 1.5 percent, to 2,023.86. The Nasdaq composite rose 87.25 points, or 1.8 percent, to 4,870.10.

Benchmark U.S. crude lost 26 cents to close at $46.38 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, declined 44 cents to $48.71 a barrel in London. In other futures trading on the NYMEX, wholesale gasoline fell 0.1 cents to close at $1.307 a gallon. Heating oil rose 0.3 cents to close at $1.486 a gallon. Natural gas fell 6.5 cents to close at $2.453 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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