Business Briefs – May 19, 2016

The Great Road Trip Returns This Summer Thanks to Cheap Gas

NEW YORK (AP) – 2016 is shaping up to be the summer of the road trip.

Cheap fuel prices have left many American families flush with spare cash, which they now plan to spend on vacations. And with summertime gas prices predicted to be the lowest in 13 years, the travel industry is outright giddy over its chances for a blockbuster July and August.

AAA is predicting 38 million people will travel for the Memorial Day holiday weekend, the most since 2005. The overwhelming majority of travelers — 89 percent — plan to go by car. That’s the highest percent of drivers since AAA began tracking holiday travel in 2000.

Cash Is King: Swiss Defend Huge 1,000-Franc Bank Note

GENEVA (AP) — The eurozone is scrapping its 500-euro ($564) note out of concern over its popularity with money launderers. But Switzerland is making clear that it sees no need to kill off its own 1,000-franc bill — currently worth $1,018.

The government said Thursday that authorities know of no money laundering cases in which the huge bill was a relevant factor. It also said it’s taken measures to limit the risk of cash being used for criminal purposes and argued the franc doesn’t have anywhere near the euro’s global significance.

Switzerland justified the need, saying it is a country with a “high wage and price level” and “culture of cash use.”

Gap Closes 75 Stores Outside North America

NEW YORK (AP) — Gap Inc. says it will shutter 75 Old Navy and Banana Republic stores outside North America as the struggling company looks to focus on regions where it sees it has the greatest potential for success.

The San Francisco company said Thursday it is closing 53 Old Navy stores in Japan, and a number of Banana Republic stores internationally.

The closures represent just a fraction of the over 3,700 stores it operates globally.

The announcement comes as Gap reported a 47 percent drop in first-quarter profit. Its revenue fell nearly 6 percent. All three of its brands suffered declines for a key sales measure.

Fiat Chrysler Recalls 500,000 Jeeps; Air Bags May Not Work

DETROIT (AP) – Fiat Chrysler is recalling about a half-million Jeep Wrangler SUVs worldwide because the driver’s air bag may not inflate in a crash.

The recall covers Wranglers from the 2007 through 2010 model years, including 392,000 in the U.S. Another 7,400 2011-2016 Wranglers in the U.S. with right-hand-drive also are affected.

The company says excessive exposure to dust and dirt from off-road driving can cause electrical problems in the steering column air bag wiring. If that happens, a warning lamp will come on and owners should contact their dealer.

Fiat Chrysler says it’s not aware of any related injuries.