Business Briefs – March 5, 2019

End-of-Year Season Defines Winners and Losers in Retail

NEW YORK (AP) — The end-of-year shopping season turned out to be a mixed bag for retailers. Retailers like Walmart, Target and Best Buy that have been responding faster to a more competitive landscape and shoppers’ shift to online are enjoying strong sales. But mall-based clothing chains and department stores continue to muddle along. If the economy slows down, those that never benefited from a booming economy could see their fortunes fall even more.

U.S. Service Firms Grew at Fastest Pace Since Fall 2018

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. service companies grew in February at the fastest pace in three months, rebounding after a decline in January. The Institute for Supply Management, an association of purchasing managers, reported Tuesday that its service index rose to 59.7 percent last month, up from 56.7 percent in January. Executives of service companies are concerned about U.S. trade disputes but they remain optimistic about overall business conditions, the ISM says.

Papa John’s, Schnatter Reach Settlement Agreement

LOUISVILLE, Kentucky (AP) — Papa John’s has reached a settlement agreement with founder John Schnatter that will see him step down from the company’s board. The agreement comes after more of a year of tussling between the Louisville-based pizza chain and Schnatter, who made a series of racially insensitive remarks that caused sales to plummet.

U.S. Budget Deficit Up 77 Percent So Far This Budget Year

WASHINGTON (AP) — The federal government recorded a budget surplus in January. But so far this budget year, the total deficit is 77 percent higher than a year ago. The Treasury Department says that the deficit for the first four months of this budget year, which began Oct. 1, totaled $310.3 billion. That’s up from a deficit of $175.7 billion in the same period a year ago. The surplus in January was $8.7 billion.

U.S. New-Home Sales Rose 3.7 Percent in December

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sales of new U.S. homes climbed in December at their highest pace in seven months, a sign that lower mortgage rates are helping the real estate market. The Commerce Department says that new-home sales rose 3.7 percent in December to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 621,000. November’s sales were revised down to 599,000 from an annual rate of 657,000.

Exxon, Chevron Raise Production Forecast in Texas-New Mexico

DALLAS (AP) — Exxon and Chevron are raising their forecasts of oil production in the Permian Basin. Exxon expects to boost production in west Texas and New Mexico to more than 1 million barrels of oil a day as soon as 2024, up from a previous forecast of 600,000 barrels a day. Chevron looks to double output to 900,000 barrels a day in 2023.