J.C. Penney CEO Johnson admits 'big mistakes'
J.C. Penney's chief executive admitted that he had made "big mistakes" in his turnaround effort as the retailer reported a startling fourth-quarter loss of $2.51 per share, compared with the 24-cent-per-share loss analysts had expected. In the year since the CEO, Ron Johnson, debuted his new strategy, the company has lost $4.28 billion in sales, and its stock is down about 55 percent. In his quest to "be the favorite store for everyone," Johnson said the retailer had gotten some areas wrong, including an assessment that customers wanted simple pricing without constant sales. Revenue in the quarter, including the holiday shopping season, fell 28.4 percent to $3.8 billion.
U.S. pending home sales rose 4.5% in January
Pending home sales in January showed healthy increases in every U.S. region except the West, according to new data. The National Association of Realtors said that its index of pending sales — based on the number of home purchase contracts signed — rose 4.5 percent in January from the previous month and 9.5 percent from January 2012. The index, at 105.9, is at its highest reading since April 2010, the month a popular tax credit for buyers was driving the market up. Month over month, pending sales were up 8.2 percent in the Northeast, 4.5 percent in the Midwest and 5.9 percent in the South. They were essentially flat, up just 0.1 percent, in the West.
Shell puts Arctic drilling on hold for this year
Royal Dutch Shell, after a series of costly and embarrassing accidents in its efforts to drill exploratory wells off the north coast of Alaska last year, said it would not return to the Arctic in 2013. The company's two drill ships suffered serious accidents as they were leaving drilling sites in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas last fall and winter. Shell said the ships would not be fixed in time to drill during the short summer this year.
Most durable goods orders rose last month
Orders for U.S. durable goods excluding transportation gear climbed in January by the most in a year, indicating business investment is holding up. Bookings for equipment meant to last at least three years minus demand for things such as aircraft, which is often volatile, climbed 1.9 percent, exceeding the median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg and the most since December 2011, Commerce Department data showed. Total orders declined 5.2 percent, more than projected, reflecting the biggest slump in defense bookings in a decade.
British GDP contracted 0.3% in 4th quarter
Britain's economy shrank in the fourth quarter as exports fell and an uncertain outlook depressed company investment. Gross domestic product declined 0.3 percent from the third quarter, with net trade knocking 0.1 percentage point from output, the Office for National Statistics said.
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