Business Briefs – November 6, 2016

Finally, Pay for Workers Across Much of Economy Is Climbing

WASHINGTON (AP) – Workers at construction sites, hotels and restaurants have enjoyed solid pay raises in the past 12 months. So have employees of utilities and telecom firms. Finally, after years of stagnant pay, more American workers are receiving meaningful raises — a trend driven home by the government’s October jobs report.

Average hourly pay surged 10 cents an hour last month to an average of $25.92, the government reported Friday. That’s 2.8 percent higher than it was a year ago, the sharpest 12-month increase since 2009.

The job market appears much healthier now, a sign that the plodding seven-year recovery is now providing some critical relief for workers.

U.S. Trade Deficit in September At Lowest Level in 19 Months

WASHINGTON (AP) – The U.S. trade deficit fell in September to the lowest level in 19 months as demand for U.S.-made airplanes and other exports increased while imports slipped. The politically sensitive deficit with China declined.

The deficit narrowed to $36.4 billion in September, down 9.9 percent from August, the Commerce Department said Friday. It was the lowest imbalance since February 2015.

The latest report offers American manufacturers an encouraging sign that the problems caused by overseas weakness and a rising dollar were beginning to wane.

Buffett’s Firm’s 3Q Profit Drops 24 Pct On Investments Value

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) – Berkshire Hathaway Inc. reported a 24 percent drop in third-quarter profit on Friday because last year’s results were helped by a huge paper gain on the value of its Kraft Heinz Food Co. stake.

The conglomerate billionaire Warren Buffett leads posted solid results at most of the more than 90 companies it owns as it reported net income of $7.2 billion, or $4,379 per Class A share, in the quarter. That’s down from $9.43 billion, or $5,737 per A share, a year ago when it recorded a $4.4 billion after-tax gain after Kraft and Heinz merged.

Icahn Takes an Even Larger Stake in Herbalife

NEW YORK (AP) – Billionaire Carl Icahn is extending a years-long proxy fight with co-billionaire Bill Ackman, upping his stake in Herbalife yet again.

The two have been battling over the legitimacy of the supplements and weight loss company since 2012, when Ackman called Herbalife a pyramid scheme and revealed a massive bet against it.

A regulatory filing this week shows that Icahn upped the stakes again, pushing his ownership from 20.8 percent, up to 23.1 percent. He’s the California company’s biggest stakeholder. At $54.70 per share, Icahn put another $100 million plus into Herbalife on Thursday.

EU Commission Holds Up DuPont-Dow Merger Review

WASHINGTON (AP) – The EU Commission reviewing the proposed merger of agriculture and chemicals companies DuPont Co. and Dow Chemical has put its work on hold as it waits for more information from the companies. The commission in August had expressed concern it could harm competition in the crop protection, seeds and petrochemicals sectors.

DuPont and Dow agreed to merge in December in an all-stock deal then valued at about $62 billion. Shareholders for DuPont and Dow approved the merger in July.

A Dow spokesperson said the Midland, Michigan company expects the merger to be completed in the first quarter of 2017.

UK’s May Seeks to Keep Brexit Plan Going Despite Setback

LONDON (AP) – British Prime Minister Theresa May sought Friday to reassure European Union leaders that her timetable for Britain to leave the EU remains intact despite a court ruling requiring British lawmakers to have more of a say in the process.

She telephoned Jean-Claude Juncker, the EU’s top official, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel to say her plan is still to start the process to remove Britain from the EU by the end of March. Officials say she will also call French President Francois Hollande and European Council President Donald Tusk.