Bernanke to skip conference amid rumors he’ll step down
WASHINGTON – Ben Bernanke is intensifying speculation that this year will be his last as Federal Reserve chairman by deciding to skip the Fed’s annual August conference in Jackson Hole, Wyo.
A Fed spokesman said Monday that Bernanke won’t attend because of a “personal scheduling conflict.”
Jackson Hole has long been a high-profile platform for speeches by Fed chairmen. Since taking over the Fed in 2006, Bernanke has been the marquee speaker each year. In 2010, he used his speech to signal that the Fed could launch another bond-buying program. Stock prices jumped in response to his remarks.
His second four-year term will end in January, and neither he nor President Obama has signaled whether Bernanke will serve a third term.
Caterpillar’s profits decline as mining business falls off
MINNEAPOLIS – A slowdown in the mining business is digging a hole in Caterpillar’s profits, which fell by 45 percent in the first quarter.
Caterpillar has lowered its expectations for full-year sales and profit because its mining business is slowing. Sales of Caterpillar-branded mining machines such as large trucks and bulldozers will drop by half this year, the company said.
Caterpillar, based in Peoria, Ill., said mining customers placed big orders for equipment last year, but then mining profits fell, so now those customers are cutting back.
Stock price of Netflix soars over new-subscriber gains
SAN FRANCISCO – Netflix’s move to compete against traditional cable-TV channels with original programming is pulling in more subscribers to its Internet video service and winning back investors who doubted the company’s ability to develop distinctive entertainment.
The skepticism dissipated Monday with the release of Netflix’s financial results for the opening three months of the year.
The first-quarter numbers showed Netflix Inc. added 2 million U.S. subscribers from January through March, hitting the top end of the company’s target. The growth left Netflix with 29.2 million U.S. subscribers to an $8-per-month service that streams movie and TV shows to Internet-connected devices.
Those first-quarter gains, coupled with signs that Netflix’s profit margins are widening, delighted investors. The company’s stock soared $42.54, or 24 percent, to $216.91 after the results came out. If the stock rallies similarly on Tuesday, it will mark the first time Netflix’s stock has topped $200 in 19 months.
‘Boston Massacre’ T-shirts pulled from stores by Nike
NEW YORK – Nike Inc. says it has pulled from the market T-shirts emblazoned with the words “Boston Massacre” in the aftermath of last week’s bombing during the Boston Marathon that killed three people and left more than 170 injured.
The sports gear company said Monday that it took immediate action last week to remove the products. The shirts, which featured blood-splattered lettering, were designed for New York Yankees fans and sold primarily at Nike’s factory store outlets.
“We conducted this process as quickly as possible and are confident the product has been removed from distribution,” said Nike spokeswoman Mary Remuzzi.
Monopoly contest boosts Hasbro first-quarter results
PAWTUCKET, R.I. – Hasbro reported first-quarter results Monday that beat Wall Street expectations as the toy maker benefited from an online contest that let people vote to eliminate one of its Monopoly tokens and introduce a new one.
The Pawtucket, R.I., maker of G.I. Joe, My Little Pony and Transformers said revenue rose for three of its four categories: games, girls and preschool. Its boys category continued to slump, with sales down 20 percent.
Rival Mattel, the world’s biggest toy maker and the seller of Barbie dolls, also reported better-than-expected results last week, as strong sales of dolls like Monster High, Disney Princess and American Girl helped more than quadruple net income.
March home sales decline, but still ahead of last year
WASHINGTON – Sales of previously occupied U.S. homes dipped in March as the supply remained tight. But the sales pace remained ahead of last year.
The National Association of Realtors said Monday that sales dipped to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.92 million, from 4.95 million in February. February’s figure was revised lower.
Sales in March were 10.3 percent higher than a year earlier.