Business Highlights

Posted October 10


For showing how contracts work best, 2 economists win Nobel

Let insiders easily cash in stock options, as Enron did, and you risk seeing executives abandon a failing company. Encourage contractors to sacrifice quality to cut costs and you might cause problems like those that led the U.S. Justice Department to phase out privately run prisons.

Designing contracts is a tricky business. For their groundbreaking work on how to make contracts fairer and more effective, Oliver Hart of Harvard University and Bengt Holmstrom of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology won the 2016 Nobel prize for economics Monday. They will share the 8 million kronor ($930,000) award for their contributions to contract theory.


Yonhap says Samsung temporarily halted Galaxy Note 7 output

Samsung Electronics has temporarily halted production of its Galaxy Note 7 smartphones, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported Monday, following reports that replacements for the fire-prone phones were also overheating.

Citing an unnamed official at a Samsung supplier, Yonhap said the tech giant took the unprecedented measure for the sake of consumer safety.

The move follows decisions by U.S. phone retailers AT&T and T-Mobile to stop giving new Note 7 smartphones to consumers to replace older models while investigations of the replacement devices are underway.


US stocks rise as energy companies and Apple move higher

U.S. stocks rose Monday as crude oil jumped to its highest price in more than a year and energy companies climbed with it. Investors also reacted to the latest twists in the presidential race.

Oil rose after Russia's government said it supports efforts by OPEC to cut oil production. Apple reached its highest price of the year and led tech stocks higher after new reports of fires affecting Samsung's Galaxy Note 7 phone, which competes with Apple's iPhone.


Donald Trump: 'No reason' for Taj Mahal casino shutdown

Donald Trump built the Taj Mahal casino and now his friend and fellow billionaire Carl Icahn has closed it, making it the fifth casualty of Atlantic City's casino crisis.

The Taj Mahal shuttered its doors Monday amid a strike by union members that lasted over 100 days. Local 54 of the Unite-HERE union went on strike after it could not agree with Icahn on a new contract to restore health insurance and pension benefits that were terminated two years ago in bankruptcy court.

Icahn decided to close the casino, saying it lacked a "path to profitability."


Bayer: Won't use Monsanto buy to force GM seeds on Europeans

The CEO of Germany's Bayer AG is promising it won't use its planned acquisition of Monsanto Co. to force genetically modified crops on skeptical Europeans.

Monsanto in September accepted an offer from Bayer to pay $57 billion to its shareholders and assume $9 billion in debt. The combination would create a global agricultural and chemical giant — and bring Bayer together with a leading producer of genetically modified seeds that are engineered to resist drought, among other things, but viewed with deep suspicion in Europe.


Facebook launches 'Workplace' a business version of Facebook

You probably already use Facebook at work. Now, Facebook is creating a separate version aimed at helping you do actual work instead of catching up on baby photos and campaign chatter.

Facebook is launching a communications tool on Monday for businesses, nonprofits and other organizations. Called Workplace, the platform is ad-free and not connected to users' existing Facebook accounts. Instead, businesses sign up as an organization and pay a monthly fee based on the number of users. It's free for nonprofits and educational institutions.


Amid breach talk, some Yahoo users finding it hard to exit

As Yahoo's embattled email service suffers through a slew of bad news, some users are finding it hard to leave.

Automatic email forwarding was disabled at the beginning of the month, several users told The Associated Press. While those who've set up forwarding in the past are unaffected, some who want to leave over recent hacking and surveillance revelations are struggling to switch to rival services.

Yahoo Inc. declined to comment on the recent change beyond pointing to a three-line notice on Yahoo's help site which says that that the company temporarily disabled the feature "while we work to improve it."


China unveils plan to cut corporate debt with stock swaps

Chinese authorities unveiled plans Monday to let companies give equity in themselves to banks to pay down soaring debt levels that economists warn might hamper the country's already slowing growth.

Companies that show "good prospects" will be allowed to negotiate swaps with lenders, the deputy chairman of the Cabinet planning agency, the National Development and Reform Commission, said at a news conference.

China's total debt is unusually high for a developing country at the equivalent of about 250 percent of annual economic output. It surged after the 2008 global financial crisis as Beijing used infusions of credit to prop up economic growth.


Warren Buffett responds to Donald Trump's tax comments

Investor Warren Buffett says he's never used the kind of tax deduction that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump did, and Buffett says he's paid taxes every year for 72 years.

Buffett sent out a statement Monday responding to Trump's comments during Sunday's debate when Trump confirmed using a $916 million loss in 1995 to avoid paying federal income taxes.

Buffett also released details of his own taxes and reiterated his call for Trump to release his tax returns. Buffett is a longtime supporter of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.


The Dow Jones industrial average gained 88.55 points, or 0.4 percent, to 18,329.04. The Standard & Poor's 500 index edged up 9.92 points, or 0.5 percent, to 2,163.66. The Nasdaq composite jumped 36.27 points, or 0.7 percent, to 5,328.67.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose $1.54, or 3.1 percent, to $51.35 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained $1.21, or 2.3 percent, to $53.14 a barrel in London. In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline rose 2 cents to $1.50 a gallon. Heating oil rose 3 cents to $1.61 a gallon. Natural gas gained 8 cents, or 2.6 percent, to $3.28 per 1,000 cubic feet.


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