Energy companies’ losses weigh heavily on investors

It’s just a forecast, and for only one of 10 industry groups in the stock market. Yet it has almost singlehandedly turned what had been a strong earnings season into a weak one.

Profits for companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index are expected to have grown in the fourth quarter at one of the lowest rates in years, just 2.2 percent.

The culprit: Energy companies that suffered as oil prices plunged. Their profits are expected to have dropped 23 percent, a collapse of fortune nearly unheard of outside of a recession, and one that has weighed on the stock market.

Burger chain’s shares more than double in market debut

Shares of Shake Shack, a burger chain that started as a New York City hot dog cart, more than doubled in the initial day of trading. The small chain is now valued at more than $1.6 billion.

The company, which raised $105 million in its initial public offering, feeds into investors’ growing appetite for restaurants that are quick but also serve food consumers think is more healthful or fresher than what a fast-food chain offers.

It now has 63 locations, mostly on the East Coast, with plans for more.

Germany to Greece: Don’t mess with us over debt fix

Greece and its European bailout creditors were openly at odds Friday.

Germany rejected suggestions that heavily indebted Greece should be forgiven part of its rescue loans and warned against “blackmail” from Athens.

Greece’s five-day-old radical left government insists it will honor pre-election promises to seek a cut on most of the country’s rescue debt and scrap painful budget measures that were demanded in exchange for the loans.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, however, warned Athens against strong-arm negotiating tactics in its effort to win debt relief.

– From news service reports