The Senate will vote on the nomination of Janet Yellen to be the next chairman of the Federal Reserve in January.
Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced Thursday that Republicans and Democrats had worked out an agreement on votes for several of President Obama’s nominees, including Yellen.
The Senate plans a test vote to move ahead on Yellen’s nomination on Friday and will then vote Jan. 6 on her confirmation.
If confirmed, Yellen would be the first woman to lead the Fed and the first Democrat to do so since Paul Volcker stepped down in 1987. She would succeed Ben S. Bernanke, whose second four-year term as chairman will end Jan. 31.
— Associated Press
Darden Restaurants said Thursday that it will either spin off or sell Red Lobster, one of its oldest and biggest brands.
The Orlando-based company also said it plans to stop building new Olive Gardens and to slow down growth at LongHorn Steakhouse.
The announcement came as Darden reported weak second-quarter results. Profit plummeted to 15 cents per share — a 42.3 percent decrease from the previous year. Analysts had expected earnings of about 20 cents per share.
Red Lobster’s sales were down more than 4 percent during the second quarter, with guest counts declining 10 percent in October.
The company said it expects earnings per share for next year to drop 15 to 20 percent compared with this year. The company had previously predicted a 3 to 5 percent decline.
With 705 restaurants in the United States and Canada, Red Lobster generated $2.6 billion in sales last year, about a third of Darden’s total revenue. About 58,000 of Darden’s more than 200,000 employees work at Red Lobster.
Barington Capital Group, a New York hedge fund representing shareholders owning more than 2 percent of Darden’s stock, has been pushing for a spinoff of both Red Lobster and Olive Garden. Barington chief executive James Mitarotonda called Darden’s plan “incomplete and inadequate.”
— Orlando Sentinel
● Bethesda-based Lockheed Martin is halting its donations to the Boy Scouts of America over the organization’s ban on gays serving as adult leaders after a review of the company’s philanthropy guidelines, the defense and aerospace giant said Thursday. Lockheed Martin spokesman Gordon Johndroe said the company decided it will not support nonprofit organizations that do not align with its corporate policies or commitment to diversity. The company did not disclose how much it has contributed to the Boy Scouts. Lockheed follows UPS, Merck and Intel in withdrawing support for the Boy Scouts over its no-gays policy in the past two years.
● The Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday charged two Seattle men with 35 counts of insider trading relating to Microsoft options. One of the men, Brian Jorgenson, is a former senior portfolio manager at Microsoft. The other, Sean Stokke, is an online trader. “Our company has zero tolerance for insider trading. We helped the government with its investigation and terminated the employee,” Microsoft said in a statement, referring to Jorgenson.
● Hershey, the maker of chocolate Kisses and Reese’s candies, agreed to buy Shanghai Golden Monkey Food Joint Stock to expand in candymaking in China. The purchase has an enterprise value of about $584 million, with the U.S. company’s Dutch unit paying $498 million in cash and assuming $86 million in debt, the company said Thursday in a statement.
● Applications for U.S. unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose last week to an almost nine-month high, showing fluctuation in the filings that typically occurs around the year-end holidays. Jobless claims climbed by 10,000, to 379,000, in the period ended Dec. 14, the most since the end of March, Labor Department data showed Thursday. “Claims at this time of year are very volatile, so we don’t want to put too much stock in each week’s fluctuations,” said Ryan Sweet, a senior economist at Moody’s Analytics in West Chester, Pa. “Layoffs are low, which is very encouraging.”
● U.S. officials on Thursday ordered the largest non-bank mortgage servicer to provide $2 billion in help to underwater borrowers to resolve allegations of misconduct that led to thousands of people losing their homes. Ocwen Financial must reduce loan balances for struggling homeowners and refund $125 million to foreclosed borrowers under an agreement with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and officials from 49 states and the District.
● Nike’s second-quarter net income jumped 40 percent, helped by higher average selling prices and an increase in revenue around the world. Profit topped analysts’ expectations, though revenue came in slightly short. Net income for the three months that ended Nov. 30 rose to $537 million, compared with $384 million last year. Total revenue rose 8 percent to $6.43 billion from $5.96 billion, Nike said.
● Research firm eMarketer expects spending on mobile advertisements to hit nearly $9.6 billion in the United States this year, up from $4.4 billion in 2012 and from less than $1.6 billion in 2011 as Facebook and Google barrel ahead. Mobile ads now represent nearly 23 percent of the money companies spend on digital advertising, or ads people see on their computers, tablets and mobile phones. That’s up from about 12 percent last year and less than 5 percent in 2011.
— From news services
● 8:30 a.m.: Final third-quarter gross domestic product released.
● Earnings: Walgreen.