Business Briefs – November 17, 2016

Yellen Says She Isn’t Going Anywhere When Trump Takes Office

WASHINGTON (AP) – Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen appears unruffled by incoming President Donald Trump’s victory last week.

Her remarks to Congress Thursday suggest that the central bank is on track to raise interest rates at its meeting in December, one month before Trump takes office. She said she has no plans to step down before her four-year term ends in January 2018, reiterated the Fed’s political independence and vigorously defended tougher bank regulations established in the wake of the financial crisis. An improving U.S. economy has bolstered the case for raising interest rates, Yellen told Congress’ Joint Economic Committee.

Wal-Mart’s Profit Falls But Beats Estimates; Revenue Misses

NEW YORK (AP) – Wal-Mart Stores Inc. saw its third-quarter profit fall more than 8 percent, dragged down as it continues to plow money into e-commerce and improving its stores. While online sales improved, overall revenue fell short of expectations as the company said it was hurt in part by falling food prices.

Profit at the world’s largest retailer still beat Wall Street expectations, and it lifted the bottom end of its full-year profit forecast. Investors focused on the sales, though, sending shares in the retailer down.

Gap’s Third-Quarter Profit Drops Nearly 18 Percent

NEW YORK (AP) – Gap’s third-quarter profit fell nearly 18 percent, undercut by costs related to store closures outside North America.

Gap Inc. shares fell in after-market trading Thursday as the company said the slump in the number of people visiting its stores continues as it heads into the critical year-end shopping season.

Gap is facing the same problems as other fashion retailers, with shoppers buying less clothing in general and also favoring off-price chains like T.J. Maxx. But Gap is also struggling with identity problems, mired in a slump as its fashions just don’t stand out in an overcrowded landscape.

Wells Fargo Sees Significant Slowdown in Account Openings

NEW YORK (AP) – Wells Fargo disclosed signs on Thursday that its customers are significantly pulling back from doing business with the bank, a reverberation of the sales practices scandal that drew a huge fine in September.

Because of the timing, its data for October is the first full-picture view of customer reaction and it is not pretty.

New customer account openings fell 44 percent in October from a year earlier, while account closures rose 3 percent from the previous year. The bank saw a 50 percent drop in credit card applications.

Verizon’s AOL Cutting 500 Jobs, Will Focus on Mobile, Video

NEW YORK (AP) – AOL is cutting about 500 jobs, or 8 percent of its workforce, as it trims back following some deals and focuses on mobile, video and data.

In a memo to employees, AOL CEO Tim Armstrong says the Verizon-owned company has added 1,500 employees over the past year because of acquisitions and partnerships, and it needs to consolidate to improve operations.

Armstrong says AOL will add jobs in the areas that are driving growth.