Business Briefs – November 21, 2018

Retailers Aim to Pick Up Business From Defunct, Dying Rivals

NEW YORK (AP) – Companies like Target and online mattress company Casper are creating playbooks to pick up market share left behind by defunct or dying retailers. Casper, for instance, is teaming up with department stores like Nordstrom to add mattress shops in areas where former rivals had locations. And Kohl’s is targeting ads where retailers like Bon-Ton and Sears shuttered stores. Target’s CEO estimates up to $100 billion in market share that’s now up for grabs.

U.S. Home Sales Rise 1.4 Percent, Snap 6-Month Losing Streak

WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. home sales rose in October, breaking a six-month losing streak. But sales are still down from a year ago, hurt by rising interest rates. The National Association of Realtors says that sales of existing homes climbed 1.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.22 million last month from 5.15 million in September. But the October sales were still down 5.1 percent from a year earlier, the largest annual drop since July 2014.

Bring Me the Bleach: Investors Seek Stability as Stocks Fall

NEW YORK (AP) – Since stocks began tumbling two months ago, investors haven’t abandoned the market. At least, not all of it. In recent weeks, as they’ve pulled money out of funds that invest in go-go technology companies, they’ve also been buying utilities, companies that make everyday necessities for consumers and other stocks that tend to have smaller swings in price than the rest of the market.

U.S. Mortgage Rates Fall: 30-Year at 4.81 Percent

WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. long-term mortgage rates this week recorded the biggest drop in nearly four years, but remain much higher than they were a year ago. Mortgage giant Freddie Mac says the average rate on the benchmark 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage fell to 4.81 percent this week, down from 4.94 percent a week earlier.

Oil Plunge Could Help US Consumers, Some Emerging Markets

FRANKFURT (AP) – Sharply lower oil prices are sending ripples through the global economy, lending more spending power to consumers shopping for gifts and making fuel cheaper for people in poorer countries. The fall doesn’t yet match the 2014-2016 slump to $26 per barrel but will have its winners and losers.

European Privacy Search Engines Aim to Challenge Google

LONDON (AP) – In the battle for online privacy, Google is a U.S. Goliath facing a handful of European Davids. The backlash over Big Tech’s collection of personal data offers fresh hope to a number of little-known search engines that promise to protect user privacy, such as Britain’s Mojeek, France’s Qwant, Unbubble in Germany and Swisscows, which say they don’t track user data, filter results or show “behavioral” ads.

As Ghosn Heads for Nissan Exit, Renault Merger Hopes Fade

TOKYO (AP) – The arrest of Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn could extinguish any remaining hopes for a merger with key shareholder Renault, which the Japanese company’s CEO has publicly opposed. Ghosn had this year said he was open to the idea of a merger between Nissan and Renault, where he is chief executive and which he has tied into a cost-saving alliance.

Spanish Leader ‘Annoyed’ By Brexit Agreement

LONDON (AP) – Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez says his government is “annoyed” that the divorce agreement being prepared for Britain’s exit from the European Union doesn’t specify that Gibraltar’s future must be decided directly by officials in Madrid and London. Sanchez told a news conference during a visit to the Spanish city of Valladolid on Wednesday that the issue is a bilateral matter and is “essential” for Spain.

Fair Weather, Falling Gas Prices Help Thanksgiving Travelers

Mild weather and falling gasoline prices are helping Thanksgiving travelers get where they’re going while saving a few bucks. Airports around the country were busy Wednesday, leading to more than 1,500 delayed flights by early afternoon on the East Coast. But only about 75 flights were canceled, according to tracking service FlightAware. Vacationers traveling by car were able to take advantage of a big decline in gasoline prices caused by lower oil prices.

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