Business Briefs – August 10, 2016

Ways to Save on Back-to-School Clothing Shopping

NEW YORK (AP) – There are plenty of fashion trends that experts say should help pique shoppers’ interest for the back-to-school season. That could provide a sales bounce for retailers after last year’s dearth of mainstream looks hurt business. The trick for shoppers: taking advantage of timing and tools to stay within a budget.

In the second most-important season for retailers behind the year-end season, families with children from kindergarten to 12th grade plan to spend an average of $673.57 on clothing, accessories, electronics, shoes and school supplies. That’s up nearly 7 percent from last year, according to the National Retail Federation. The group surveyed nearly 7,000 consumers from June 30 through July 6 about their plans.

U.S. Registers $113 Billion Budget Deficit in July

WASHINGTON (AP) – The federal government last month recorded the biggest monthly budget deficit since February, and the deficit so far this budget year is running 10 percent higher than a year ago.

The Treasury Department said Wednesday that the deficit came in at $112.8 billion in July, highest since February’s $192.6 billion but down from $149.2 billion in July 2015. For the first 10 months of the budget year, which ends Oct. 1, the deficit was $513.7 billion, up from $465.5 billion a year earlier.

The government runs a deficit when it spends more than it collects in taxes and other revenue.

Toxicologist on Cancer Warnings: State Acted Despite Science

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Officials in North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory’s administration are telling a string of misleading half-truths about the safety of well water containing a cancer-causing chemical near Duke Energy coal ash pits, a veteran state toxicologist said Wednesday, and he charged that they are the ones responsible for any resulting fear and confusion.

Toxicologist Ken Rudo’s comments in a statement issued through his attorney came a day after high-ranking state environmental and health officials blamed Rudo for sowing fear about dangerous chemicals near Duke Energy sites with “questionable and inconsistent scientific conclusions.”

U.S. Employers Advertised More Jobs and Boosted Hiring in June

WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. employers advertised more openings and hired more people in June, adding to evidence that the job market has rebounded from a brief soft patch in the spring.

The number of job openings rose a modest 2 percent to 5.6 million in June from 5.5 million in May, the Labor Department said Wednesday. Still, that figure remains below the 5.8 million openings advertised in April, the highest on records going back 16 years.

Hiring increased 1.7 percent in June to 5.1 million, a solid level but below a recent peak of 5.5 million in February.

Changes at Ralph Lauren Come At Cost Investors Are OK With

NEW YORK (AP) – Ralph Lauren swung to a first-quarter loss as it spends heavily to turn itself around, but the damage was not as bad as many had expected and its shares rose faster than any other Wednesday on the Standard & Poor’s 500.

Just months after taking over as CEO for founder Ralph Lauren late last year, Stefan Larsson initiated significant changes.

In addition to slashing costs to right the company’s balance sheet, Larsson tightened its focus on the brands that made Ralph Lauren known worldwide.

While the company is shutting 10 percent of its stores, it is pushing the core brand aggressively.

Wendy’s Says Cheaper Groceries Keeping People at Home

DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) – Wendy’s is the latest major fast-food chain to report weaker-than-expected sales growth, with the hamburger company saying people aren’t dining out as much because it has gotten even cheaper to eat at home.

Wendy’s said Wednesday that sales edged up 0.4 percent at North American restaurants open at least 15 months in the second quarter. Analysts polled by FactSet forecast a 2.4 percent increase.

Wendy’s CEO Todd Penegor said during a conference call that customer traffic across the fast-food industry slipped starting earlier this year as the price gap between eating at home and dining out widened.

That’s because lower commodity costs have kept grocery prices down, while restaurant chains may maintain or raise prices as they deal with costs for running their businesses and try to improve profit margins