Nov 11th

Kroger Acquires Chicago Grocery Chain

By Frank Galvano

Kroger Acquires Chicago Grocery Chain

The nation's biggest supermarket chain got bigger Wednesday as the Kroger Co. agreed to purchase a Chicago area grocery chain named Roundy's, which operates 34 Mariano's grocery stores. The purchase price of $800 million, or $3.60 a share, represents a healthy 65 percent premium over Tuesday's close, when Roundy's shares were trading at $2.19 per share. According to a press release, the boards of directors at Roundy's and Cincinnati-based Kroger have already approved the merger. In a statement, Roundy's chairman Bob Mariano lauded the merger with Kroger, calling it a “great win for our customers, communities, employees and our shareholders.” Marianio's stores will be run as a Kroger subsidiary, lead by senior members of Roundy's management team. No store closings are expected to result from the merger.

Sep 4th

Stocks Plunge Again on Weak August Jobs Report

By Mike Goldman

Stocks Plunge Again on Weak August Jobs Report

US stocks plummeted during Friday's session in response to the August jobs report, which showed the nation's lowest unemployment rate since the onset of the Great Recession but also showed less jobs created than economists were expecting. The Dow Jones lost nearly 300 points in the first half of the trading day, and all three major indexes had lost well over 1 percent as investors reacted to the mixed report. Despite the smaller-than-expected job creation number, investors are concerned that the drop in joblessness will convince the Federal Reserve to boost interest rates.

Aug 13th

Google Reveals Major Restructuring Plan

By Andy

Google Reveals Major Restructuring Plan

Google surprised investors this week by revealing a bold new restructuring plan under which a new parent company called Alphabet Inc. will be created.  As a subsidiary of Alphabet, Google will continue to run the search giant's most notable businesses, like search, Android and YouTube, while various other ventures will be organized separately under the Alphabet umbrella.   Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page will oversee Alphabet, while Sundar Pichai will be assigned the role of CEO at Google.  Check out a letter Page sent to Google employees, informing them of the restructuring, below.

May 27th

1st Quarter Overdraft Fees Top $1.1 Billion at Big 3 US Banks

By Frank Galvano

1st Quarter Overdraft Fees Top $1.1 Billion at Big 3 US Banks

 JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo took in a combined $1.1 billion in overdraft fees in the first quarter, according to a report from CNN. Of course, that accounts for nearly half of the $2.5 billion brought in by the 600 US banking firms required to reveal income from overdraft charges. Overdraft fees are charged to a bank's customer when an automatic payment goes through or a check on the account clears, but also when a customer pulls money from an ATM and their account balance dips below $0. The latter can only occur if the customer opts in to allow ATM withdrawls to exceed available balance, otherwise the ATM wouldn't disperse cash if the amount exceeds the balance. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is looking into overdraft fees, and is particularly curious about instances when customers are charged multiple overdraft fees in a day. 2015 is the first year that banks are required to disclose overdraft fee information.

May 5th

Wells Fargo Charged with Opening Unauthorized Accounts in Customers' Names

By Andy

Wells Fargo Charged with Opening Unauthorized Accounts in Customers' Names

A complaint was filed Monday in the Superior Court of California accusing Wells Fargo of opening bank accounts and credit cards in their customers' names without their knowledge. The Civil suit seeks a $2,500 fine for each account opened plus additional damages. The number of unauthorized accounts has not yet been disclosed. A spokesman for the banking giant said it will “vigorously defend itself”, but declined to confirm or deny whether unauthorized accounts had been opened. According to the complaint, bank employees were pressured to meet unrealistic sales goals and quotas, prompting the fraudulent activity. Employees allegedly opened the accounts to meet the quotas and even transferred money from authorized accounts to pay fees on the unauthorized ones. In addition to fines, prosecutors also wants all money taken from customers to cover late fees returned.

May 5th

US Trade Imbalance Surges to post-Recession High

By Kelly Curtis

US Trade Imbalance Surges to post-Recession High

The US Commerce Department reported Tuesday that the nation's trade deficit reached its highest level since the recession as a resolution was found to a labor standoff. Negotiations over a new labor contract for unionized longshoreman have been ongoing for months as billions of dollars in imports have sat on the docks at Los Angeles and Long Beach, the two US ports that handle the most imported goods. March's massive jump was essentially a recovery from the prior month, when the trade gap plummeted to a six year low. Both fluctuations were anomalies caused by the labor stoppage and the resulting delays in processing imports. According to the Commerce report, US imports rose 7.7 percent last month, easily a record for one-month growth in the category.

May 28th

CNBC's Jim Cramer Cautions Bull Market May End Soon

By Betty
CNBC's Jim Cramer Cautions Bull Market May End Soon
CNBC stock market analyst Jim Cramer suggested this week that the current bull market may be nearing an end, and the market could be in for a pullback in the next few months.  On his CNBC televsion show “Mad Money,” Cramer cited research from Mark Sebastian of Swan Wealth Advisors because Sebastian had been dead on in the past.  Cramer  noted that Sebastian had correctly predicted the current bull run for the market back in April 2012 after analyzing the VIX, an index used to track volatility in the stock market.  Sebastian noted that between 2002 and 2007, the years leading up to the last major crash, the VIX routinely spiked, then fell to new lows.  Just before the crash, Sebastian noted, the VIX began hovering at higher levels, getting nowhere near its prior lows after spiking.  This overall rise in the VIX, Sebastian suggests, served as an omen that the S&P 500, which almost always moves in the opposite direction as the VIX, was about to crash, which it did.
 
Jan 8th

Consumer Debt Rose Less than Forecast in November

By Dave Simmons
Consumer Debt Rose Less than Forecast in November

The US Federal Reserve reported Wednesday that consumer debt in the world's largest economy rose $12.2 billion to $4.81 trillion in November.  It was the smallest increase since April, showing that many Americans are making an attempt to pay down debt rather than take on more.  The gain was also well below the $15 billion expected by economists, according to a recent survey conducted by Reuters.  The Fed also revised its figures for October consumer debt, from an initially reported $18.2 billion down to $17.9 billion.
Dec 31st

55 Tax Breaks to Expire as 2013 Winds Down

By Kelly Curtis
55 Tax Breaks to Expire as 2013 Winds Down
 
With 2013 winding down, millions of American businesses and individuals are nervously looking forward to an altered climate as Congress is poised to allow some 55 tax breaks expire at midnight on New Year's Eve.  Of course, the companies and people affected by the decision should be used ti this by now, as Congress seems to allow the incentives to expire every year, before renewing them later in the year.  Since tax returns for the 2014 fiscal year won't be due until April of the following year, lawmakers have plenty of time to re-enact the tax breaks, saving firms and consumers billions of dollars in tax expenses.  When Americans file their 2013 taxes in a few months, the tax breaks will still be available because they were re-instated for the current fiscal year.

Dec 6th

Consumer Borrowing Reaches Record Level in October

By Mike Goldman
Consumer Borrowing Reaches Record Level in October


Americans reached out to lenders more in October, according to a report issued Friday by the Federal Reserve.  The report showed significant increases in auto and student loans, as well as the largest uptick in outstanding credit card debt since May.  Total consumer borrowing, the Fed said, came to a record-high $3.08 trillion, an increase of $18.2 billion from September.  Borrowing for automobile purchases and student loans, grouped in the same category, rose $13.9 billion last month, providing the bulk of the overall increase.  Borrowing in the category, which has risen in all but one month since May 2010, has risen over 6 percent from a year ago.

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