Business Briefs – December 10, 2015

VW Staff Began Working on Cheat In 2005 to Crack U.S. Market

WOLFSBURG, Germany (AP) – A small group of Volkswagen engineers began working as early as 2005 on emissions cheating software after they were unable to find a technical solution to U.S. emissions controls as the automaker pushed into the North American market, executives said Thursday.

The company in September admitted to have cheated on U.S. diesel emissions tests with the help of software installed in engines. The software was built into 11 million cars globally, about 500,000 of which in the U.S., from 2009 to 2015.

It has so far confirmed to have cheated only on the U.S. tests, which are more rigorous than European ones for the polluting emission nitrogen oxide.

Wal-Mart to Launch Own Mobile Pay System

NEW YORK (AP) — Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world’s largest retailer, said it’s launching its own mobile payment system that will allow shoppers to pay with any major credit or debit card or its own store gift card through its existing smartphone app at the cash register.

It started testing the new payment feature Thursday at its stores in the Bentonville, Arkansas area, where the retailer is based. It plans to launch the payment system called Walmart Pay in all 4,500-plus U.S. stores in early next year.

Who’s Investigating Fake Chinese Goods? Fake Investigators

SHANGHAI (AP) — Multinational corporations doing business in China face a losing battle when it comes to keeping copies of their products off the market: The anti-counterfeiting industry they rely on is plagued with fraud, making it that much easier for potentially dangerous fake goods to reach consumers, an Associated Press investigation has found.

Most Western companies subcontract anti-counterfeiting work to private investigators paid on commission. More seizures mean higher fees, creating powerful incentives to cheat in an industry with little oversight. As a result, money spent fighting counterfeiting often doesn’t make things better, and sometimes makes them worse.

The AP found instances of investigative fraud involving products that could be hazardous: counterfeit auto parts, pharmaceuticals, personal care products and electrical components.

Average U.S. Rate on 30-Year Mortgages Rises to 3.95 Percent

WASHINGTON (AP) – Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates edged higher this week following three straight weeks of declines, amid expectations the Federal Reserve will raise its key short-term interest rate next week.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday the average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose to 3.95 percent from 3.93 percent a week earlier. The average rate on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages increased to 3.19 percent from 3.16 percent.

U.S. Household Wealth in Q3 Fell for First Time in 4 Years

WASHINGTON (AP) – The stock market’s sharp decline in August and September took its toll on Americans’ finances in the third quarter. Household net worth fell for the first time in four years.

The Federal Reserve said Thursday that Americans’ stock and mutual fund portfolios plunged $2.3 trillion in the July-September quarter. That far outweighed a $482 billion increase in home values. Overall, household net worth fell to $85.2 trillion from $86.4 trillion in the second quarter.

U.N.: World Economy Stumbled in 2015, With 2.4 Percent Growth

UNITED NATIONS (AP) – The world economy stumbled in 2015, with growth estimated at just 2.4 percent this year following a nearly 60 percent drop in oil prices and an over 20 percent fall in commodity prices in the last 18 months, according to a U.N. report released Thursday.

The report on the World Economic Situation and Prospects 2016 said many developing and former Soviet bloc countries suffered a broad slowdown to the weakest pace since the global financial crisis in 2008.

GM Ignition Switch Fund Pays Out $594.5m on 399 Claims

DETROIT (AP) – Lawyers hired to compensate victims of General Motors’ faulty ignition switches have paid out $594.5 million to settle 399 eligible claims.

The numbers were released Thursday in a final report from compensation expert Kenneth Feinberg.

A total of 4,343 claims were filed with the GM fund. Only 9.2 percent were deemed eligible for payments, including claims for 124 deaths and 275 injuries. The fund says more than 90 percent of the offers it made were accepted.

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