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Thursday Afternoon Business Brief

February 20, 2014, 1:44 PM

Thursday Afternoon Business Brief

Stocks are rising in afternoon trading on Wall Street. A private survey showing that U.S. manufacturing expanded at the fastest pace in almost four years helped offset a weak survey on Chinese manufacturing.

  • Walmart has posted a 21 percent drop in fourth-quarter profit, and it's giving a subdued forecast for the current quarter. The world's largest retailer says a number of things have been keeping shoppers away, including bad weather and the expiration of a temporary boost in food stamps. New CEO Doug McMillon is promising to sharpen Wal-Mart's focus on everyday low prices and speed up growth plans for its smaller Neighborhood Markets and Wal-Mart Express stores.
  • The pilots of a UPS cargo jet that crashed last August complained of tiring work schedules at the start of their fatal flight, and then made errors shortly before the plane flew into a  Birmingham, Ala., hillside and burst into flames. That's according to information presented to the National Transportation Safety Board today. The board was also told that the plane was equipped with an outmoded warning system to alert pilots when they are in danger of flying into the ground.
  • Employers can't make new hires wait more than 90 days for coverage in a company health care plan, under rules issued today by the Labor Department. The new rule takes effect in 60 days. The Kaiser Family Foundation says nearly 80 percent of workers face a waiting period before coverage takes effect. The average wait is under two months, but 30 percent have to wait three months or more.
  • Coca-Cola is raising its quarterly dividend by 9 percent. The next dividend is payable April 1 to shareholders of record as of March 14. Coca-Cola says raising the dividend to 30.5 cents from 28 cents reflects the confidence it has in its long-term cash flow.

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