Business Briefs – May 26, 2016

$50 Oil Shouldn’t Pose Major Threat to Consumers, Economy

NEW YORK (AP) — The price of oil topped $50 a barrel this week for the first time since July, delivering a cash infusion to oil producers and a lift to beaten-down energy stocks.

The arrival of higher energy prices isn’t necessarily bad news for consumers — at least not yet. Analysts expect gasoline and airline fares to stay relatively low at least through the summer travel season.

Analysts say oil prices could rise more, but have a cap around $60–$65 a barrel. While global production has slowed, supplies still more than meet demand.

‘It’s the Fear of the Unknown’ – U.K. Small Biz Key to EU Vote

LONDON (AP) – It’s the voices of small business that may play a big factor on the decision of whether the United Kingdom should leave the European Union.

The country’s 5.4 million small and medium-size enterprises account for 99 percent of Britain’s businesses and employ 15.6 million people.

While the media has focused on the fact that most large companies back EU membership, opinion is divided among smaller firms. When the Federation of Small Businesses surveyed its members last year, it found that 47 percent supported EU membership and 41 percent wanted to leave. However, a Feb. poll found that 42 percent said their votes could still be swayed.

Sears Posts Wider Loss, Looks At Options for Kenmore, Others

NEW YORK (AP) – Long-struggling retailer Sears says it plans to try to leverage its strongest brands like Kenmore and Craftsman to help sustain itself as it posted a larger first-quarter loss Thursday and said sales fell at its K-mart and namesake stores.

The chain is looking at options for prized brands that also include DieHard and Sears Home Services, including possible partnerships or deals that could expand their distribution and service offerings. It believes the Kenmore, Craftsman and DieHard brands can grow significantly with an expanded presence outside of Sears and Kmart.

China Accuses U.S. of Hampering Trade With Steel Duties

BEIJING (AP) – China accused the United States on Thursday of hampering trade after Washington imposed duties of up to 450 percent on Chinese steel in its latest response to a flood of low-priced imports.

The Ministry of Commerce complained U.S. regulators discriminated against Chinese suppliers by using incorrect standards for deciding what production cost and market prices should have been.

Beijing faces mounting criticism from the United States and Europe that it is exporting steel at unfairly low prices to clear a backlog in its glutted home market.

Takata Taps Financial Adviser As Recall Costs Mount

TOKYO (AP) — Faced with mounting costs from a global recall of air bags, Japanese supplier Takata Corp. has hired the advisory firm Lazard to engineer a restructuring of its finances.

Takata air bags can deploy with too much force, spewing shrapnel into the vehicle. They are responsible for at least 11 deaths and more than 100 injuries worldwide.

Takata recently agreed to recall an additional 40 million air bag inflators in the U.S. Globally, Takata may be forced to recall more than 100 million inflators and analysts estimate the cost of making replacement parts could total tens of billions of dollars.

Uber to Expand Its Africa Operations

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Uber is expanding in Africa. The company said Thursday it plans to start operating in the capitals of Ghana, Uganda and Tanzania within a month.

Uber already operates in Nairobi and Mombasa in Kenya, Lagos and Abuja in Nigeria and Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth in South Africa. Uber’s South African operation will experiment with a cash payment option in addition to the electronic payment system in its app, said Alon Lits, Uber’s general manager in sub-Saharan Africa.