Business Highlights

February 4, 2020 GMT


Tesla stock is soaring. Madness or visionary investing?

DETROIT (AP) — Eight months after it seemed headed for the corporate junkyard, Tesla is now worth more than General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler combined, even though the Big Three together sell more cars and trucks in two weeks than Tesla does in a whole year. Tesla’s stock has increased fivefold to nearly $900 since June, reflecting a sense among investors that the company is well-positioned for the expected global shift from the internal combustion engine to batteries. But some analysts think the stock run-up is just plain nutty for a company that has never turned a full-year profit.


Hyundai halts Korea output as China outbreak fallout spreads

WASHINGTON (AP) — Hyundai Motors is suspending production in South Korea, a sign that the economic fallout from China’s viral outbreak is spreading. For other companies bracing for losses from coronavirus, the damage has so far been delayed, thanks to a stroke of timing: The outbreak hit just when Chinese factories and many businesses were closed anyway to let workers travel home for the week-long Lunar New Year holiday. But the respite won’t last. If much of industrial China remains on lockdown for the next few weeks, a very real possibility, Western retailers, auto companies and manufacturers that depend on Chinese imports will start to run out of the goods they depend on.


Trump’s economy: Solid and steady but vulnerable to threats

WASHINGTON (AP) — A portrait of a robust U.S. economy is sure to fill center stage Tuesday night when President Donald Trump gives his third State of the Union address. It is an economy that has proved solid and durable yet hasn’t fulfilled many of Trump’s promises. Nine months before the election, the economy keeps growing steadily if only modestly. Yet what Trump now calls an unprecedented boom is, by some measures, not all that different from the solid economy that he inherited from President Barack Obama.


Ford full-year profit plunges on slower sales, pension costs

DETROIT (AP) — Ford Motor Co.’s profit last year plunged by more than $3.6 billion, weighed down by slowing U.S. sales, the cost of a botched SUV launch and some big pension expenses. The Dearborn, Michigan, automaker said it made $47 million in 2019, down from a $3.68 billion profit a year earlier. For the fourth quarter the company lost $1.7 billion, or 42 cents per share, weighed down by $2.2 billion in one-time pension costs. Excluding one-time items, Ford made 12 cents per share for the quarter, falling short of Wall Street’s expectations. Analysts polled by FactSet predicted 17 cents per share. Quarterly revenue fell 5% to $39.7 billion, about even with Wall Street estimates.


Disney Plus streamer hits nearly 29M subscribers in 3 months

NEW YORK (AP) — The Disney Plus streaming service reached nearly 29 million paid subscribers in less than three months. That’s an impressive start for what Disney has positioned as its future as more people drop cable subscriptions. But as expected, starting up a new service comes with huge expenses, contributing to a 23% profit decline for the company in the latest quarter. Disney Plus launched in November to compete with online video services like Netflix. Original series on Disney Plus include the “Star Wars” series “The Mandalorian.” Disney says a second season is coming in October.


Macy’s to close 125 stores, shed 2,000 corporate jobs

NEW YORK (AP) — Macy’s says it is closing 125 of its least productive stores and cutting 2,000 corporate jobs as the struggling department store tries to reinvent itself in the age of online shopping. The store closures represent about one fifth of Macy’s current total. It didn’t specify how many jobs would be lost at the shuttered stores. The corporate jobs will be shed as Macy’s closes its offices in Cincinnati and San Francisco, leaving New York as its sole corporate headquarters.


UK boosts climate effort by banning new gas vehicles by 2035

LONDON (AP) — The British government says it plans to ban the sale of new gas and diesel cars by 2035, five years earlier than its previous target, in a bid to speed up its efforts to tackle climate change. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson made the announcement as he launched the U.K’s plans to host the United Nations’ global climate summit. The COP26 meeting is being held in Glasgow in November. Johnson, however, is facing criticism from the woman he appointed to lead the conference, then who he fired last week. Claire O’Neill strongly criticized the prime minister on Tuesday, saying Britain’s efforts to fight climate change were “miles off track.”


Tech stocks lead indexes broadly higher, Nasdaq sets record

NEW YORK (AP) — Technology companies led a broad rally for stocks, giving the S&P 500 its best gain since early August. Traders were encouraged Tuesday by a gain in China’s main stock index after the country took more steps to soften the financial blow of the recent virus outbreak. Bond prices fell, sending yields sharply higher, in another sign investors are willing to take on more risk. Tesla’s stock soared again.


The S&P 500 index rose 48.67 points, or 1.5%, to 3,297.59. The Dow climbed 407.82 points, or 1.4%, to 28,807.63. The Nasdaq gained 194.57 points, or 2.1%, to 9,467.97, a record high. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks picked up 24.56 points, or 1.5%, to 1,656.77.