Friday Afternoon Business Brief (Jan. 15, 2016)

  • It’s another day of tumbling stocks as Wall Street heads for its worst first two weeks of a year ever. Energy and financial companies are leading the declines, with oil trading below $30 a barrel. Discouraging data on retail sales and manufacturing are also weighing on the market, along with continuing jitters about China’s economy.
  • Wal-Mart is closing 269 stores, more than half of them in the United States. The other 115 locations are spread over Latin America, mostly in Brazil. The stores account for a fraction of Wal-Mart’s 11,000 stores worldwide, and less than 1 percent of its global revenue. The move will affect 16,000 workers — 10,000 of them in the United States. The world’s largest retailer is striving to become more nimble in the face of increased competition, including from online rival
  • Federal officials say a bird flu virus that is different from the one that ravaged turkey and chicken farms last summer has been found in Indiana. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says the H7N8 flu strain has been confirmed at a commercial turkey farm in the southwestern Indiana county of Dubois. The Indiana Board of Animal Health says the farm has about 60,000 turkeys and the flock is being euthanized to prevent the disease from spreading.
  • Seventeen automakers have reached an agreement with the U.S. government to cooperate on safety issues in the future. Automakers and regulators will study whether the aviation industry’s voluntary safety reporting can be applied to autos, and they agreed to look at using big data to spot and report safety problems faster. They’ll also work together to increase the percentage of recall repairs that get done, and they’ll study and share cybersecurity information.
  • U.S. airlines are doing better at staying on schedule than a year ago, but more passengers are filing complaints against the carriers. Hawaiian Airlines and Delta Air Lines top the on-time rankings released today by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Budget airlines Spirit and Frontier were last in on-time performance and complaint rates. Flights on the 13 largest airlines arrived on time 83.7 percent of the time in November, up from 80.6 percent in November 2014. Complaints rose 56 percent from a year earlier.

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