Qualcomm to cut 15% of chip workforce

Qualcomm Inc., responding to pressure from an activist investor, said it plans a major cut in its workforce under a restructuring that will slash annual spending by $1.4 billion. San Diego-based Qualcomm is the nation's leading maker of so-called chipsets, or collections of integrated circuits, used in mobile phones. It also earns substantial profit from licensing its technology. The company's plan includes a 15 percent cut in its full-time chip-making workforce along with "significant reductions in our temporary workforce" and certain office closures, Qualcomm Chief Executive Steve Mollenkopf told analysts. He did not specify the exact number of jobs targeted, but Qualcomm employs about 31,000 full-time and temporary employees, so the cuts could amount to 3,500 employees or more.

Leader of Delta pilots union to step down

The head of the pilots' union at Delta Air Lines is resigning. Mike Donatelli said he will step down in September and union leaders will elect a new chairman. Donatelli's decision comes less than two weeks after members of the Air Line Pilots Association rejected a Delta contract offer that union leaders had narrowly endorsed. "It is time for the pilots of Delta Air Lines to unify," Donatelli said in a letter to the airline's 12,000 pilots. The Delta offer, which lost by nearly a 2-to-1 ratio, included pay raises but could have reduced profit-sharing under some circumstances. Union leaders will meet Sept. 1-2 to elect a new chairman, said Donatelli, a Detroit-based Boeing 777 pilot who has flown for Delta since 1987.

Canada's loonie at 10-year low vs. U.S. dollar

The Canadian dollar dropped to levels not seen in more than a decade as the price of oil and gold both came under pressure. The loonie was down 0.53 cents at 76.70 U.S. cents — its lowest level since September 2004. The Canadian dollar has been on a downward slide since last summer, when the price of oil started to weaken. Oil prices dropped below the US$50 mark in trading Wednesday, settling at US$49.19, while gold lost US$12 to fall to $1,091.50 an ounce. Compounding the loonie's weakness was a decision by the Bank of Canada to cut its key interest rate last week.

N.Y. food workers could see $15 minimum

Fast-food workers in New York state would see a super-sized raise under a plan to phase in a $15 minimum wage — the first time a state has singled out a particular industry for such an increase. The hike, approved by the state Wage Board, would increase gradually over three years in New York City and six years for the rest of the state. It would apply to employees at any fast-food restaurant with 30 or more locations, impacting an estimated 200,000 workers. San Francisco, Seattle and Los Angeles have approved gradual increases to $15 an hour, and the huge University of California system said Wednesday that it would raise its minimum to $15 for all hourly workers.

Home Depot to buy Interline for $1.63B

Home Depot, the largest home improvement retailer, agreed to buy Interline Brands for about $1.63 billion in cash to bolster its offerings for professional contractors. The acquisition is expected to be completed in the quarter that ends Nov. 1 and will add to earnings in the current fiscal year, Atlanta-based Home Depot said. Home Depot has curtailed store openings since the housing crash and focused on new avenues of growth, such as online sales and installation services. Buying Interline would be a major boost to Home Depot's efforts to sell more supplies to customers in the building and maintenance professions. The Jacksonville, Fla.-based company markets and distributes products including Barnett pro contractor supplies and Wilmar janitorial equipment through 90 locations in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico.

Wal-Mart cuts hours for some 24-hour stores

Wal-Mart Stores will start closing some of its 24-hour supercenters for at least a few hours each night, aiming to use the time to better stock shelves and organize stores for the peak shopping rush. The move will affect about 40 stores, including those in Philadelphia, New Jersey and Maryland, beginning next week, said spokesman Brian Nick. About two dozen 24-hour locations already had their hours reduced this spring, and more stores are slated to go through the process later, he said. The change is a sign of retreat for a company that helped bring convenience and all-hours shopping to many parts of America. CEO Doug McMillon is taking the step as part of his drive to improve the shopping experience at Wal-Mart's U.S. stores, where customers have complained about empty shelves, long checkout lines and poor-quality produce.