Square, the financial services start-up that helps small businesses process credit card payments, is planning to go public. The six-year-old company is known for its white, cube-shaped card readers that plug into smartphones and tablet computers, turning them into electronic sales terminals. It’s also known in the tech industry for being founded and led by Jack Dorsey, 38, who was separately named CEO of the social networking service Twitter last week. Square filed regulatory papers for an initial public stock offering valued at up to $275 million, although that figure could change. San Francisco-based Square said it had $850 million in revenue last year.
Fed’s regional survey sees moderate growth
The Federal Reserve said steady consumer spending and an improving housing market spurred modest U.S. economic growth in the late summer, though factory output was sluggish in part because of the strong dollar. The Fed said in its latest snapshot of the economy that nine of its 12 regional banks reported that growth was moderate or modest from mid-August through the beginning of October. Two banks said economic activity increased while the Kansas City Fed said the economy slowed slightly. The Fed’s report echoes other recent data that suggest the U.S. economy, while still expanding, has run into headwinds from overseas and lost some momentum. Most analysts forecast that growth will fall sharply in the July-September quarter to an annual pace of about 1.5 percent from 3.9 percent in April-June.
Retail sales stayed nearly flat last month
Americans spent cautiously at retailers in September, with stepped-up spending for cars, clothes and restaurants tempered by sales declines for gasoline, building materials and online outlets. Retail sales rose just 0.1 percent last month after being unchanged in August, the Commerce Department said. Over the past 12 months, sales have climbed 2.4 percent. Auto purchases shot up 1.8 percent in September, while spending rose 0.7 percent at restaurants and 0.9 percent at clothiers. More Americans are buying cars and dining out as the U.S. economy has entered its seventh straight year of expansion. Spending increased amid a surge in hiring — 2.8 million jobs in the past year — that has slowed in recent months.
Producer price index fell 0.5% last month
Prices fell for manufacturers, farmers and other producers in September, as lower energy costs have limited broader inflation. The Labor Department said the producer price index, which measures price changes before they reach the consumer, dropped 0.5 percent last month after being unchanged in August. Excluding the volatile food and energy categories, core prices tumbled 0.3 percent in September. All of this suggests that the Federal Reserve may delay an expected rate hike until signs of inflation appear. Wholesale prices have decreased 1.1 percent from a year ago. Gasoline costs fell a sharp 16.6 percent, while food prices slid 0.8 percent.
VW exec tapped for North America bows out
The German executive whom Volkswagen tapped to take charge of its North American operations in the wake of the automaker’s emissions-test cheating scandal has quit just weeks after taking the post. VW said Winfried Vahland resigned from the company Wednesday. He had been named the manager with overall responsibility for the North American region just last month. The company said Vahland resigned over “differing views on the organization” of the automaker’s North American business. His resignation was “not related” to the ongoing scandal, the carmaker said.
Twitter’s new chairman is a Google veteran
Twitter named Omid Kordestani, once deemed Google’s “business founder” by search giant co-founder Larry Page, to the role of executive chairman as the social media company struggles to reverse slowing growth. Kordestani, a former chief business officer at Google, will have an operational role at Twitter, helping with recruiting and strategy, a spokesman for the San Francisco-based company said. After investor criticism, Twitter is working to improve its product, making it easier for casual users — among them Kordestani — to stay active and find helpful content. Before Wednesday, he had tweeted only eight times through an account created in 2010.