IMF cuts global growth forecast to 3.1%
China's slowdown and tumbling commodity prices will push global economic growth this year to the lowest level since the recession year 2009, the International Monetary Fund predicted. In a report Tuesday in advance of the IMF-World Bank annual meetings this week in Lima, Peru, the fund said the world economy will grow 3.1 percent this year, down from a July forecast of 3.3 percent and from 3.4 percent growth last year. "The risks seem more tilted to the downside than they did just a few months ago," IMF chief economist Maurice Obstfeld told reporters. Still, Obstfeld downplayed the risk of a global recession.
Sinking U.S. exports push trade deficit up
The U.S. trade deficit jumped sharply in August as exports fell to the lowest level in nearly three years while imports increased, led by a surge in shipments of cellphones from China. The deficit increased 15.6 percent to $48.3 billion, the biggest deficit since March, the Commerce Department reported. Exports of goods and services dropped 2 percent to $185.1 billion, the lowest level since October 2012. Imports rose 1.2 percent to $233.4 billion. Exports have been hurt this year by the rising value of the dollar, which makes U.S. goods less competitive on overseas markets, and weaker economic growth in China and other major export markets. Economists say they expect these trends will combine to push the deficit higher and make trade a drag on overall growth this year.
Wal-Mart puts protein bars in grocery aisles
Protein and health bars at Wal-Mart are getting ready for prime time. The world's largest retailer plans to expand its offering of bars like Special K and Clif beyond the over-the counter section that features diet supplements to the more visible main grocery aisles of some of its stores, starting in January. Wal-Mart is also considering eventually placing these nutritional bars near the cash registers. The move comes as the world's largest retailer, along with many other rivals, are going on a health kick aimed at their customers as they fight to grab more of their share of the wellness and healthy food business. Target Corp. announced last month that it was pushing granola bars and healthy grab-and-go snacks over candy at the checkout aisles in 30 of its stores.
Samsung quarterly profit beats forecasts
Samsung Electronics said its third-quarter operating profit was up 80 percent from over a year earlier, a forecast-beating result likely stemming from strong sales of electronics components and a weakness in the local currency. The South Korean smartphone maker said that its operating profit for the July-September quarter was 7.3 trillion won ($6.3 billion). The result showed that Samsung was on track for a recovery. Its operating profit has gained quarter to quarter for the past year since falling to 4.1 trillion won one year ago.
Express Scripts will cover cholesterol drugs
The nation's biggest pharmacy benefits manager has decided to cover two new drugs that lower artery-clogging cholesterol but raise concern over prices that can top $14,000 a year. Express Scripts said it will pay for prescriptions of Amgen Inc.'s Repatha as well as Praluent from Sanofi and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. under a few conditions designed to control costs. The decision comes as soaring drug prices draw criticism from patients, doctors and politicians, as well as insurers and employers that generally pay most of the prescription bill. Praluent and Repatha both stirred worry because of their potential to be used by millions of patients.
ABC Family changing its name to Freeform
The ABC Family network, home of youthful dramas "Pretty Little Liars" and "The Fosters," will change its name to Freeform this winter. The rebranding reflects the Disney-owned network's worries that its current name is a turnoff to its target audience of 14- to 34-year-old viewers. "This is an evolution for our company that has been going on for a long time," said Tom Ascheim, ABC Family president. The changeover takes place in January. The company tested several different names but felt Freeform would describe and appeal to the audience it is seeking, young people heading out into the world and experiencing their first jobs and first loves, he said. Ascheim said the network won't change its focus or programming mix.
Twitter 'Moments' curates day's top stories
Twitter launched a new feature called "Moments" that helps highlight the top stories being tweeted. The feature will showcase top stories being discussed, even if you don't follow the tweeters. It can be found by tapping a lightning bolt icon tab on the site or app. It will update the "Moments" throughout the day. The "Moments" are a mix of news and fluffy trending topics. For example, two "Moments" on Tuesday included tweets about the South Carolina floods breaking dams and a pygmy hedgehog called Marutaro. Twitter, which limits posts to 140 characters, has been trying to find a way to make the site easier to navigate and broaden its appeal.