Jos. A Bank rejects sweetened takeover offer

Men's clothing company Jos. A. Bank rejected Men's Wearhouse $1.78 billion sweetened acquisition offer but it said it is willing to meet with its rival chain over a possible higher bid. Men's Wearhouse Inc. said Monday it would offer $63.50 per share for Jos. A. Bank, up from its prior bid of $57.50 per share. The Houston company also said it could raise the bid to $65 per share, if some conditions are met. On Thursday, Jos. A. Bank said it was willing to meet with Men's Wearhouse to discuss the higher bid. The raised offer came 10 days after Jos. A Bank announced that it was planning to buy the parent company of Eddie Bauer in a cash-and-stock deal valued at $825 million.

Initial jobless claims rise but remain stable

The number of people applying for U.S. unemployment benefits rose 14,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 348,000, though the broader trend in applications remained stable. But the four-week average was unchanged at 338,250, the Labor Department said. Applications are a rough proxy for layoffs. The average is not far above prerecession levels, a sign companies are laying off few workers. Economists said that winter storms two weeks ago may have caused some people to delay submitting their applications until last week, temporarily boosting the figures. Applications have been mostly steady in recent weeks, even though hiring faltered in January and February. That suggests employers may be reluctant to add many jobs, but they aren't worried enough about future growth to step up layoffs.

Orders for durable goods fell last month

American businesses ordered fewer durable manufactured goods in January, cutting demand for planes, autos and machines. But a key category that reflects business investment rebounded on the strength of demand for electronics and fabricated metals. The Commerce Department said that orders for durable goods fell a seasonally adjusted 1 percent in January from December. Much of the decline was driven by a 20.2 percent drop in demand for commercial aircraft, a volatile month-to-month category. Orders for all transportation-related equipment fell 5.6 percent. More encouragingly, orders rose 1.7 percent in a closely watched category, known as core capital goods, which excludes volatile transportation and defense orders. This category had dropped 1.8 percent in December.

Energy prices push Japanese inflation higher

Japan's consumer price index rose 1.3 percent in January, as inflation picked up pace though most of the increase was due to higher energy costs. Data released Friday show the recovery in the world's third-largest economy held steady in January, with factory output up 4 percent from December. The figures were in line with forecasts. The government and central bank have unleashed a flood of stimulus aimed at breaking Japan free from a long spell of deflation, or falling prices, that is thought to discourage investment and spending. Excluding both food and energy prices, consumer prices rose 0.7 percent in January.

Hilton consider selling the Waldorf Astoria

Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc., the world's largest publicly traded hotel operator, is considering selling a stake in the Waldorf Astoria in Manhattan or the entire hotel, Chief Executive Christopher Nassetta said. "We may look to reposition the hotel," Nassetta said in a telephone interview after the McLean, Va.-based company reported fourth-quarter earnings. "We are still deciding on how we may reposition it and who we may reposition it with. Part of this would require capital, so we would look at the option of selling all or a stake in the hotel." The 1,232-room hotel is so large that it has hurt Hilton's ability to charge luxury-level rates, said Nikhil Bhalla, an analyst at FBR & Co. in Arlington, Va. Rooms at the 82-year-old hotel start at $279 for the week of March 3.

NHTSA looking into General Motors recall

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has launched a probe into why General Motors Co. did not promptly recall more than 1.6 million vehicles after it learned that faulty ignition switches were causing fatal crashes. The investigation is likely to result in hefty fines for the automaker. GM recalled the vehicles in two phases this month even though documents demonstrate that the automaker first learned of the problem in 2004. The GM recall covers the 2005-2007 Chevrolet Cobalt, 2007 Pontiac G5, 2003-2007 Saturn Ion, 2006-2007 Chevrolet HHR, 2006-2007 Pontiac Solstice and 2007 Saturn Sky vehicles. GM issued a second apology Thursday and said it will cooperate with the NHTSA.