U.S. retailers get the cold shoulder
NEW?YORK?(AP) -For years, Canadians would cross the border to the U.S. to shop at Target. Exporting its cheap chic there seemed like a no-brainer.
But a year after opening more than 100 stores north of the border, Target has found business isn't so easy.
Shelves are hard to keep stocked. Shoppers complain the prices are higher than at U.S. stores. Sales have been weak, and the retailer lost nearly a billion dollars in Canada for the year.
Cracking the Canadian retail market, about one-tenth the size of the United States', looks simple. The two countries are neighbors. They are culturally similar. And Canada's malls generate 20 percent more sales per square foot, because there are fewer of them.
Late flights are up, complaints down
DALLAS (AP) - A big drop in customer complaints helped U.S. airlines post their best ratings ever even though more flights were late and more bags were mishandled, according to a report released Monday by university researchers.
Virgin America topped the ratings, and three regional airlines scored at the bottom.
Among the four biggest airlines, Delta ranked best followed by Southwest, American and United, according to researchers from Wichita State University and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
The researchers have graded airlines since 1991 on government figures for on-time performance, mishandled bags, bumping passengers, and complaints filed with the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Australia, Japan agree on trade deal
TOKYO (AP) - Japan and Australia have agreed on a free trade deal that both sides say will yield windfalls for their economies.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his Japanese counterpart, Shinzo Abe, announced the pact, Japan's first with a major agricultural economy, at a news conference Monday.
The deal calls for Japan to gradually phase out its nearly 40 percent tariffs on Australian exports of beef. In turn, Australia is to end its tariffs on Japanese-made vehicles, household appliances and electronics.
Consumer borrowing up $16.5 billion
WASHINGTON (AP) - U.S. consumers increased their borrowing in February on autos and student loans by the largest amount in a year. But for a second straight month, they cut back on their credit card use.
Consumer borrowing climbed $16.5 billion in February, up from a $13.5 billion gain in January, the Federal Reserve reported Monday.
The category that includes credit cards fell $2.4 billion after a $241 million drop in January. But this decline was offset by an $18.9 billion increase in borrowing in the category that covers autos and student loans, the biggest one-month gain since February 2013.
The overall increase in consumer debt pushed total borrowing to a record $3.13 trillion.
Oil prices slip below $101 after deal
NEW YORK (AP) - Oil prices fell below $101 a barrel Monday following reports that four Libyan oil terminals under militia control could soon open and possibly boost global supplies.
The official Libyan news agency said the country's main militia in the east agreed to hand back control of four oil terminals it captured and shut down last summer to demand a share in oil revenues.
The shutdown has cost Libya billions of dollars.
Under the deal reached late Sunday, the militia would immediately hand over two terminals to the national government and return two others in a few weeks.
Survey: US health insurance gains pick up
WASHINGTON (AP) - A growing share of Americans got health insurance as sign-up season for President Barack Obama's health care law neared its end last month, a major survey released Monday has found.
The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index provides independent validation for White House claims that the law is expanding access, particularly for working people with no health coverage on the job. But the improvement, while substantial, doesn't appear as large as some of the numbers claimed by the law's supporters.
Gallup found that the share of adults without health insurance shrank from 17.1 percent at the end of last year to 15.6 percent for the first three months of 2014.
The decline would translate roughly to more than 3.5 million people gaining coverage. The trend accelerated as the March 31 enrollment deadline loomed.
GOP seeks coverage choices in health law they hate
WASHINGTON (AP) - At the prodding of business organizations, House Republicans quietly secured a recent change in President Barack Obama's health law to expand coverage choices, a striking, one-of-a-kind departure from dozens of high-decibel attempts to repeal or dismember it.
Democrats describe the change involving small-business coverage options as a straightforward improvement of the type they are eager to make, and Obama signed it into law. Republicans are loath to agree, given the strong sentiment among the rank and file that the only fix the law deserves is a burial.
Obama tests work policies on federal contractors
WASHINGTON (AP) - Sidestepping Congress, President Barack Obama is using the federal government's vast array of contractors to impose rules on wages, pay disparities and hiring on a segment of the private sector that gets taxpayer money and falls under his control.
Obama this week plans to issue an order prohibiting federal contractors from retaliating against workers who discuss their pay. He will also direct the Labor Department to issue new rules requiring federal contractors to provide compensation data that includes a breakdown by race and gender.
Cement makers Holcim, Lafarge create Swiss merger
GENEVA (AP) - Two of the world's largest suppliers of building materials announced plans for a "merger of equals" Monday that would create an industry giant with a combined 32 billion euros ($44 billion) in annual revenues.
Swiss-based Holcim and its French counterpart, Lafarge, said the new company would be named LafargeHolcim and be headquartered in Switzerland. They said the merger would create the most advanced group in the building materials industry - the two companies are already global leaders in the supply of cement, crushed stone, sand and gravel.
Mallinckrodt buying Questcor for about $5.6B
ANAHEIM, California (AP) - Mallinckrodt is buying California-based Questcor Pharmaceuticals Inc. for a combination of stock and cash valued at about $5.6 billion that will help to further diversify the Irish company's business.
Mallinckrodt makes a range of specialty pharmaceuticals. Questcor's primary product is H.P. Acthar Gel, which is used in the management of autoimmune and inflammatory conditions. It is approved in the U.S. for treating 19 indications.
By The Associated Press=
The Dow Jones Industrial average dropped 166.84 points, or 1 percent, to 16,245.87. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 20.05 points, or 1.1 percent, to close at 1,845.04. The Nasdaq slipped 47.97 points, or 1.2 percent, to 4,079.75.
Benchmark U.S. crude oil for May delivery slipped 70 cents to $100.44 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Brent crude, used to set prices for international varieties of oil, dropped 90 cents to $105.82 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.
Wholesale gasoline fell 1 cent to $2.93 a gallon.
Natural gas rose 4 cents to $4.48 per 1,000 cubic feet.
Heating oil shed 2 cents to $2.89 a gallon.
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.