U.S. jobless claims up slightly but remain low
Initial jobless claims rose slightly last week to 333,000 but the average over the past month dropped to its lowest level since 2007, the Labor Department said. The number of people filing for first-time unemployment benefits in the week ended Saturday was up from the previous week’s revised figure of 328,000, the department said. The rise in claims last week was in line with analyst expectations. But the less-volatile four-week average dropped last week to 335,500. That was the lowest since November 2007, before the Great Recession began, according to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
Ackman wants action in Penney CEO search
Bill Ackman is ratcheting up pressure on J.C. Penney Co. to accelerate management changes as the retailer works to rebound from the sales decline and cash drain that’s cut almost a third of market value this year. The board agreed last month to begin a search for a new chief executive, to be named within six months, Bloomberg News reported, citing an anonymous source. Ackman is pushing the retailer to find a CEO to replace Myron Ullman by mid-September since there are only a few candidates, Bloomberg said. Among those possibilities are Foot Locker CEO Ken Hicks, Bon-Ton Stores chief Brendan Hoffman and Hudson’s Bay Co.’s Bonnie Brooks, according to the Bloomberg report.
T-Mobile’s largest customer growth in 4 years
T-Mobile, the fourth-largest U.S. carrier, lost thousands of customers over the last few years to rivals that offered more popular phones. But it appears to be rebounding. The company said it had gained 1.1 million customers, including 685,000 contract subscribers, in the last quarter. That compares with a loss of 557,000 contract subscribers, the most valuable type of customer, a year ago. The upswing was its largest customer growth in four years. The company started offering the iPhone in April, when it also began offering new phone plans that addressed common frustrations with wireless companies.
Canada’s Tim Hortons seeks new U.S. strategy
Tim Hortons Inc., the Canadian coffee and doughnut chain under pressure from activist investors over its U.S. expansion, said starting in 2014 it will reduce the capital it deploys in the country. The company is looking for “new ways” to grow in the U.S., a market it says will contribute to long-term earnings growth. The Oakville, Ontario-based chain will accelerate an “initiative to partner with well-capitalized franchisees in the U.S.,” as one approach, according to a statement. The company also plans to raise debt to buy back $900 million Canadian ($868 million U.S.) in stock.
Progressive’s driving tracker meets resistance
Progressive Corp., the fourth-largest U.S. auto insurer, is searching for the right message to attract customers to a product that tracks a person’s driving to set rates, Chief Executive Glenn Renwick said. Surveys of prospective Snapshot users have shown that “you get about 30 percent of people saying, ‘Yeah, why not?’; you get another 30 percent of people saying, ‘Maybe, I need to know more’; and you get about 40 percent of people saying, ‘No way in hell,’ ” Renwick said on a conference call. The insurer has been counting on the technology to encourage safer habits behind the wheel.