Amazon Prime launches same-day delivery
In another blow to brick-and-mortar retail stores, Amazon.com is launching free same-day delivery for Prime members in 14 metropolitan areas. Shoppers who belong to Amazon's annual Prime membership program and make a purchase of $35 or more by noon will receive their items by 9 p.m. that day, seven days a week. The initial rollout includes more than 1 million items, such as books, cables and chargers, games, cooking tools and electronics. The same-day option will be available in the metropolitan areas of San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Phoenix, Dallas, Indianapolis, Tampa Bay, Fla., Atlanta, Washington, Baltimore, New York, Philadelphia and Boston.
FTC settles with Teva for $1.2 billion
The Federal Trade Commission announced a record settlement of $1.2 billion with Teva Pharmaceutical Industries over charges that its subsidiary Cephalon illegally blocked generic competition to its sleep-disorder drug Provigil. Cephalon, which agreed in 2011 to be bought by Teva, had been in litigation with the commission since 2008. The case was due to go to federal court in Philadelphia on Monday. The five FTC commissioners were unanimous in a 5-0 vote to resolve the lawsuit. The case is the latest and most significant signal yet, experts say, that the federal government, and the FTC in particular, is focused on increasing competition in the pharmaceutical industry, with the aim of reducing health care costs.
Average mortgage rates inch up again
Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates rose this week to their highest level so far this year as new data showed strength in the housing market. Mortgage giant Freddie Mac said the average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage increased to 3.87 percent from 3.84 percent a week earlier. The rate on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages advanced to 3.11 percent from 3.05 percent. Rates have risen in recent weeks amid signs of improvement in the economy. Despite their recent climb, mortgage rates remain low by historic standards. A year ago, the average 30-year rate was 4.12 percent and the 15-year was 3.21 percent.
Union Pacific furloughs 900 workers
Union Pacific Corp. has furloughed about 900 railroad workers because shipping demand has been weaker than expected. The Omaha-based railroad said last month that it had begun reducing rail crews and storing some locomotives because shipping volume had been weaker than expected this year. Union Pacific spokesman Aaron Hunt said the recent furloughs were also part of the railroad's effort to align its workforce with the current market. The number of shipments Union Pacific has been delivering so far this year is down about 3 percent, which includes a 30 percent drop in coal carloads.
Initial jobless claims rise but remain low
More Americans sought unemployment benefits last week, though the overall level remains low and points to a healthy job market. Weekly applications increased 7,000 to a seasonally adjusted 282,000, the Labor Department said. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, rose 5,000 to 271,500. The average had fallen to a 15-year low two weeks ago. Applications are a proxy for layoffs. They have remained below 300,000, a historically low number, for 12 weeks. That suggests Americans are experiencing solid job security. It also indicates that employers are confident enough to hold on to their staffs.
Japan's jobless rate down to 18-year low
Japan has reported that its jobless rate dropped to an 18-year low in April, but industrial production, inflation and household spending were muted as consumers kept purse strings tight. The government said Friday that the unemployment rate was 3.3 percent in April, the lowest since April 1997, as the number of jobs to applicants rose to the highest level since 1992. The core consumer price index, excluding volatile food prices, rose 0.4 percent, partly due to a fall in energy costs thanks to cheaper crude oil. Aggressive monetary easing by the Bank of Japan has pulled the Japanese yen to its weakest level against the dollar since 2002.
New at Dunkin': Chips Ahoy doughnuts
Doughnuts aren't just for breakfast anymore. That's the idea behind the latest Dunkin' Donuts pastries, created to help attract customers during the afternoon. The chain will start selling Chips Ahoy doughnuts filled with cookie dough-flavored buttercream on June 1, touting them as an anytime snack. Dunkin' also is testing mini doughnuts at about 40 restaurants in the Pittsburgh area and will introduce filled croissant doughnuts later this year.