Business Briefs – May 31, 2016

Wal-Mart Seeks Overseas Success By Going Native In China

SHENZHEN, China (AP) — Wal-Mart has found that if it wants to win over foreign consumers, it has to shed some of its American ways, and cater to very different customs and conventions. The stakes are high: The company can’t count on much growth in the U.S. so the retailer is depending more on its operations overseas.

China is the ultimate prize. The Chinese grocery market is expected to grow to $1.5 trillion in sales in just the next four years, says IGD, a global consumer products research firm.

Gulf Economic Slowdown Sees Foreign Workers Trapped by Debts

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — The economic slowdown gripping countries across the Persian Gulf can be seen in layoffs, slowed construction projects and government cutbacks. For the millions of foreign workers, it can have a far-darker side if they find themselves deep in debt.

Gulf countries like Qatar largely don’t have bankruptcy laws, leaving laid-off workers on the hook for huge outstanding sums while often banned from traveling outside of the country. That leaves many unemployed begging friends and family for help while frantically selling off all their belongings. Others have killed themselves out of desperation.

General Mills Recalls Flour Over Possible E. Coli Link

NEW YORK (AP) — General Mills is recalling about 10 million pounds of flour over a possible link to an E. coli outbreak in 20 states.

The recall is for several varieties of Gold Medal and Signature Kitchens flour that were sold at Safeway, Albertsons and other supermarkets. General Mills said E. coli hasn’t been found in any of its flour products, but is still recalling them out of “an abundance of caution.”

The company said Tuesday 38 people were sickened from mid-December through May 3. The CDC found that half the people used flour before getting sick, some of which was a General Mills Inc. brand.

U.S. Home Prices Rise in March As Spring Buying Season Begins

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. home prices kept climbing in March as the spring home buying season began.

The Standard & Poor’s / Case-Shiller 20-city home price index increased 5.4 percent in March compared with a year earlier, according to a report released Tuesday. That is the same annual gain as in February.

Job growth, modest increases in wages and salaries, and low mortgage rates are fueling Americans’ willingness to buy homes. There is also a limited supply of homes on the market, which pushes up prices.

Puerto Rico’s Tourist Industry Feels Economic Sting of Zika

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Puerto Rico has been hit hard by Zika, with more than 1,170 confirmed cases, one death and the first microcephaly case acquired on U.S. soil. Now, worries about the virus are starting to affect the tourism industry, a bright spot in an otherwise dismal economy.

Tourism industry insiders say they’ve seen the negative impact of Zika for months and it appears to be getting worse.

Staples CEO to Go After Office Depot Deal Scrapped

NEW YORK (AP) — Staples Inc. says Ron Sargent will step down as chief executive CEO after 14 years on the job. His departure follows Staples and rival Office Depot dropping their $6.3 billion merger earlier this month after antitrust regulators opposed it.