Business Briefs – January 25, 2016

Weak Growth and Shaky Markets Put Pressure on Central Banks

WASHINGTON (AP) – The world’s central banks are under pressure to do something about slumping economies and panicky stock markets. The question is, can — or will — they do much that would help?

The head of the European Central Bank signaled this week that there’s “no limit” to how far it would go to restore the health of the continent’s economy. The Bank of Japan is considering expanding its easy-money policies to fight feeble growth and low inflation. And many economists believe the Federal Reserve may have to rethink its plans to raise U.S. interest rates.

So far, the global economy has benefited modestly at best from the cures central banks have offered.

Stock Market Tumble Could Keep Pension Funds Behind

NEW YORK (AP) – The slide on Wall Street could damage public employee pension funds around the country, most of which haven’t even recovered from the Great Recession, and the burden could end up falling on taxpayers.

Stocks have been tumbling in the first weeks of 2016. If there’s a quick rebound, the slump won’t make much difference. If the tumble continues, it could be bad news for pensions.

Somewhere down the line, states may have to either cut benefits — which can be legally or politically difficult — or pump more tax dollars into their pension funds to make sure retirees get what they were promised.

GE Tops 4Q Earnings Though Industrial Revenue Slips

HARTFORD (AP) – General Electric topped Wall Street expectations for the fourth quarter and reaffirmed its target for 2016, but its shares slipped in afternoon trading as the company’s industrial revenue declined.

The industrial conglomerate earned 52 cents per share, excluding the financial operations it’s shedding, on $33.9 billion in revenue. Analysts were expecting 49 cents per share on revenue of $35.91 billion.

Its industrial segment revenue slipped 1 percent to $31.4 billion.

General Electric has refocused on its industrial roots, making massive turbines and other complicated equipment, while selling off its operations in its financial wing as well as its appliance division.