Business Briefs – February 17, 2019

Payless ShoeSource to Shutter All of Its Remaining U.S. Stores

NEW YORK (AP) – Payless ShoeSource is shuttering all of its 2,100 remaining stores in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, joining a list of iconic names like Toys R Us and Bon-Ton that have closed down in the last year.

The Topeka, Kansas-based chain said Friday it will hold liquidation sales starting Sunday and wind down its e-commerce operations. All of the stores will remain open until at least the end of March and the majority will remain open until May.

The debt-burdened chain filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in April 2017, closing hundreds of stores as part of its reorganization.

At the time, it had over 4,400 stores in more than 30 countries. It remerged from restructuring four months later with about 3,500 stores and eliminated more than $435 million in debt.

Hundreds of Companies Excused From Steel Tariff

WASHINGTON (AP) – Commerce Department waivers from an import tax show how pliable President Donald Trump’s protectionist policies can be. An Associated Press analysis shows the Commerce Department has granted hundreds of companies permission to import millions of tons of steel made in China, Japan and other countries without paying the hefty tariff Mr. Trump put in place to protect U.S. manufacturers and jobs. The president has used tariffs as a club against countries he accuses of playing unfairly.

Amazon’s Stormy Week Will Blow Over, but Debris Will Stay

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – It’s been a complicated few weeks for Amazon, what with its abrupt pullout from a massive New York City development and extortion claims related to intimate selfies taken by its founder, Jeff Bezos. Competitors may try to take advantage, but analysts say the dents are growing pains that are unlikely to damage Amazon’s core business.

U.S. Industrial Output Tumbled 0.6 Percent in January

WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. industrial production fell 0.6 percent in January, a decline caused in large part by an 8.8 percent plunge in the making of motor vehicles and auto parts. The Federal Reserve says that the manufacturing component of the index dropped 0.9 percent last month, reversing a 0.8 percent gain in December. Over the past 12 months, factory production has increased just 2.9 percent. Manufacturing of wood products, computers, electrical equipment, apparel and chemicals also fell in January.

FAA Decision Opens Door for Vietnamese Airlines to Fly to U.S.

WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. officials are clearing the way for Vietnamese airlines to fly to the United States. The Federal Aviation Administration says Vietnam’s oversight of airlines complies with standards set by the U.N.’s aviation agency. The decision also means Vietnamese airlines could enter deals with U.S. airlines to sell seats on each other’s flights, a practice called code-sharing.

Former Coal-Fired Power Plant Is Demolished In Germany

BERLIN (AP) – A long-shut coal-fired power plant in western Germany has been demolished with the help of more than 200 kilograms (440 pounds) of explosives.

The former Knepper power station on the outskirts of Dortmund was brought down in two explosions on Sunday. The first destroyed the main body of the plant and the second collapsed its 128-meter (420-foot) high cooling tower and its 210-meter (689-foot) tall chimney.

German news agency dpa reported that about 120 nearby residents had to leave their homes as a precaution.

Germany plans to switch off its nuclear plants by 2022 and the government is considering a proposal to stop burning coal for electricity by 2038 at the latest in a bid to curb greenhouse emissions.