The Recap: Obama’s pledge to push past Congress


Recap illustration by Cristiana Couceiro FTWP (cristiana couceiro)
February 1

President Obama, in his State of the Union address, pledged to use his White House authority with new force to advance an agenda that Congress has largely refused to support. ¶ Obama made clear that instead of trying to fix the mess in Washington, he was now promising to find ways around it. ¶ He challenged lawmakers to work with him to achieve breakthroughs on large-scale initiatives to overhaul immigration laws and provide more benefits to American workers, including a higher minimum wage and extension of long-term unemployment insurance. ¶ He also sketched out more than a dozen ways in which he intends to use executive powers to try to boost the economy on his own. ¶ Republicans accused the president of abandoning more-sweeping initiatives by refusing to work through the legislative process.

Business

Royal Dutch Shell has delayed plans to drill in Alaska’s Arctic waters as it slashes capital spending and awaits the repercussions of a recent appellate court ruling challenging the validity of the lease sale in the Chukchi Sea. Shell said it would cut global capital spending by about $9 billion and will not drill in Alaska during 2014, despite having made extensive preparations with upgraded rigs and support vessels.

Charlie Shrem, head of the Bitcoin exchange BitInstant, was arrested in connection with a scheme to sell the virtual currency to online drug traffickers.

Honda said it built and shipped more cars overseas from the United States last year than it imported here from Japan.

The Justice Department pledged to find hackers who breached Target’s customer credit card data.

Southwest Airlines is expanding beyond the continental United States with flights to the Caribbean.

Ford Motor will use rotating shifts — two weeks on, two weeks off — to avoid indefinite layoffs at an assembly plant west of Cleveland. The automaker says rotating shifts will mean most Avon Lake workers will get 74 percent to 100 percent of regular full-time pay.

Hopes for a turnaround by the Royal Bank of Scotland, the nationalized British bank, took a hit when the lender said it set aside $5 billion more to cover U.S. legal costs and customer compensation claims in Britain.

Doug Parker, chief executive of the new American Airlines, said he will get a salary of $700,000 this year. The majority of his compensation will come in the form of a stock award that has not been determined.

Yahoo identified an effort to break into Yahoo Mail accounts. The list of user names and passwords in the attack was probably taken from a third-party database, Yahoo said.

Many U.S. shoppers are not taking steps to ensure that their personal data are more secure after a massive security breach at Target, an Associated Press-GfK poll found. Just 37 percent have tried to use cash for purchases rather than pay with plastic, while 41 percent have checked their credit reports.

The pain reliever in Aleve may be safer on the heart than other popular anti-inflammatory drugs taken by millions of Americans, federal health officials said.

Verizon said its shareholders have approved its $130 billion deal to buy the 45 percent stake in its wireless division owned by British cellphone carrier Vodafone.

The deep freeze gripping the U.S. Farm Belt has slowed barges on the Mississippi and Illinois rivers, major arteries for supplying corn, soybeans and wheat to exporters on the U.S. Gulf.●

Deloitte passed Price­waterhouseCoopers to become the world’s top accountant by revenue, a global survey showed. The International Accounting Bulletin said Deloitte, Price­waterhouseCoopers, KPMG and Ernst & Young, dubbed the Big Four, still dominate the sector with over two-thirds of the market. Deloitte reported fee income of $32.4 billion last year, just ahead of PwC with $32 billion. Ernst & Young came third with $25.9 billion and KPMG with $23.4 billion.

D.C. developer Douglas Jemal plans to develop the former Hecht warehouse, which will feature 300 apartments and an organic grocery.

Earnings

Amazon.com reported fourth-quarter profit that more than doubled to $239 million. Revenue climbed 20 percent to $25.6 billion, trailing estimates of $26.1 billion.

American Airlines Group, which combined with US Airways last month to form the world’s biggest carrier, reported fourth-quarter profit of $436 million excluding some costs, compared with a loss of $42 million a year earlier.

Boeing posted a profit of $1.23 billion, well ahead of analyst expectations and boosted by its commercial airplane and defense businesses.

Caterpillar posted a profit of $1 billion, up from $697 million a year ago, as cost cuts and an uptick in demand for its building equipment offset continued weak sales to the mining industry.

Exxon Mobil reported a profit of $8.35 billion, compared with $9.95 billion a year ago. It failed to offset declining production but spent heavily to find fresh reserves.

Facebook said it earned $523 million, up from $64 million a year ago. Mobile advertising accounted for more than half of Facebook’s total ad revenue in the quarter, a sign that the social network born a decade ago in the desktop computer era is succeeding in its goal of being “mobile first.”

Ford Motor posted a pretax profit of $8.56 billion — the second-highest in the past decade — and worldwide sales were up 12 percent to 6.3 million cars and trucks. That was a faster pace than Toyota, the industry leader, whose sales rose 2 percent to 9.98 million.

Google profit rose 17 percent to $3.4 billion, even though a long-running slump in its online ad prices deepened. Google’s average ad price in the fourth quarter fell 11 percent from a year ago.

Economy

The Federal Reserve said it will continue to scale back its support for the nation’s economy despite recent turmoil in global markets that has reverberated across U.S. indexes. The central bank will reduce the amount of money it is pumping into the recovery from $75 billion this month to $65 billion in February. The move is a sign that the Fed remains confident that the economy is healing. It said that growth has “picked up” in an official statement announcing its unanimous decision.

Turkey’s central bank raised its key interest rate to 12 percent from 7.75 percent to try to stave off inflation and support the national currency, which has fallen sharply in recent weeks. The decision was made at an emergency meeting after the currency, the lira, hit a record low.

Home prices in 20 U.S. cities rose in November from a year ago by 13.7 percent — the most in almost eight years, providing a boost to household wealth.

New-home sales fell in December for a second month, but even so, sales for all of 2013 climbed to the highest level in five years. For the year, sales were up 16.4 percent, to 428,000, the highest level since 2008.

The average 30-year fixed-rate loan fell to 4.32 percent from 4.39 percent last week. The average for the 15-year loan eased to 3.40 percent from 3.44 percent.

Transitions

Nintendo’s next target market is old people. Company president Satoru Iwata announced that, instead of releasing games on smartphones and tablets, it wants to step into the health market by 2015. Nintendo saw profits take a 30 percent dive last year.

— From news services and staff reports

$15 million
a year advertising campaiGn

Chocolate milk is making a comeback with an unlikely new image: the perfect drink for Ironman and Olympic athletes after a grueling workout. As overall milk sales have dropped, the dairy industry has been positioning chocolate milk as a contender in the fast-growing market for protein bars and shakes.

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