Business Briefs – July 31, 2016

U.S. GDP Grows a Weak 1.2 Percent in Second Quarter

WASHINGTON (AP) – Growth in the U.S. economy was sluggish again in the spring, dashing expectations for a robust rebound after a tough winter.

The Commerce Department said Friday that the gross domestic product — the broadest measure of the economy — grew at a 1.2 percent annual rate in the April-June quarter. That was far below the 2.6 percent GDP growth rate that economists had been forecasting.

Stronger consumer spending was offset by weakness in housing construction and a big slowdown in the pace that businesses restocked store shelves.

SABMiller to Recommend AB InBev’s Improved Offer

LONDON (AP) – SABMiller’s board says it will recommend that shareholders accept Anheuser-Busch InBev’s revised 79 billion pound ($104 billion) takeover offer, clearing the way for a shareholder vote on the mega-deal.

The decision comes as some SABMiller shareholders were seeking a better offer after the value of the pound dropped more than 10 percent since Britain voted last month to leave the European Union.

The pound’s drop means that the majority of SABMiller’s shareholders have seen the value of their deal drop when compared with the offer of cash and AB InBev shares that is being offered to SABMiller’s top two shareholders.

U.S. Wages, Benefits See Steady Rise in Second Quarter

WASHINGTON (AP) – The wages and benefits paid to U.S. civilian workers rose at a steady pace in the second quarter compared to the first three months of the year, as income growth showed signs of slight acceleration.

The Labor Department says total compensation increased 0.6 percent from April to June, matching the pace of the prior three months. Over the past 12 months, employment costs have risen 2.3 percent, up from the annual pace of 2 percent a year ago.

Merck Posts Strong 2q Numbers, While Building for Long Term

WASHINGTON (AP) – Drugmaker Merck & Co., focused heavily on its long-term future as it builds sales of crucial new medicines Keytruda for cancer and Zepatier for hepatitis C, still posted a big jump in second-quarter profit thanks to slightly higher sales and more cost cutting.

The drugmaker is transitioning to a hoped-for new growth cycle fueled by those recently launched, potential blockbuster drugs. Meanwhile, it’s trying to offset falling sales or slowing growth due to increased generic and brand-name competition for best sellers including immune disorder drug Remicade, cholesterol drugs Zetia and Vytorin, and Type 2 diabetes drug Januvia.

UPS 2Q Revenue Improves on Strength in U.S., Abroad

ATLANTA (AP) – UPS’s second-quarter revenue improved on solid performances from its domestic and international package divisions. Its earnings edged up and the company reaffirmed its earnings guidance for the full year.

The package and delivery service’s revenue increased to $14.63 billion from $14.1 billion. Revenue for the U.S. domestic package unit climbed 4 percent, with average daily package volume up 2.5 percent. For the international package division, revenue rose 1.1 percent and daily export packages climbed 3.9 percent.

Sony’s Profit Falls on Yen, Lagging Cellphones, Japan Quake

TOKYO (AP) – Sony Corp.’s fiscal first-quarter profit dipped 74 percent to 21.2 billion yen ($205 million), as earnings were hammered by a strong yen and lagging smartphone sales, and a quake in southwestern Japan that disrupted its camera parts and semiconductor production.

The Japanese electronics and entertainment giant reported Friday that April-June sales slipped nearly 11 percent year-on-year to 1.6 trillion yen ($15.7 billion).

Quarterly profit last year totaled 82.4 billion yen.

AP Sources: Tesla Looking at Cameras, Radar in Florida Crash

DETROIT (AP) – Tesla engineers told members of the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee that they are looking into the role cameras and radar played in the fatal crash of a Model S using self-driving mode, according to two people familiar with a meeting held Thursday.

The engineers have two main theories. Either the car’s cameras and radar failed to spot a crossing tractor-trailer. Or the cameras didn’t see the rig and the car’s computer thought the radar signal was false, possibly from an overpass or sign.