Morning Business Memo:
Big banks have a chance to play the good guy after Hurricane Sandy. Citi (C), Wells Fargo (WFC), Bank of America (BAC) and TD Bank (TD) are among the banks waiving some of their normal fees for customers in states affected by the monster storm. One example is Chase Bank, which says customers in Washington, Virginia and much of the Northeast this week won't be charged for overdrawing their checking accounts or making a late credit card payment. Citi is waiving fees at least until Monday for affected customers who use overdraft protection, have insufficient funds or are late in paying their credit cards. Wells Fargo says some of its branches that lost power are still open, as employees use flashlights and hand-stamp deposit and withdrawal forms. TD Bank is allowing customers to cash in their bank CDs without charging early-withdrawal penalties.
Some big-box retailers are cashing in on demand for generators and other emergency supplies. The Wall Street Journal reports consumers lined up at Home Depot (HD), Walmart (WMT) and Lowes (LOW) "snagging necessities such as chain saws for clearing fallen trees and sump pumps to remove water or sewage from basements." Some big chains made sure they boosted their supply chains. "Retailers monitored the storm through emergency-operations centers at their headquarters last week, using global-positioning systems to reroute storm supplies to thousands of stores along the East Coast," the Journal reports.
A comeback for China? Two business surveys show China's manufacturing improved in October, adding to signs the world's second-largest economy might be recovering from its deepest slump since the 2008 global crisis. Chinese economic growth fell to a 3-1/2 year low of 7.6 percent in the quarter ending in September, but other indicators, including retail sales and investment, are improving.
About 3.6 million tax returns from as far back as 1998 have been hacked in South Carolina. Experts say it might be the largest ever cyber-attack against a state tax department. State and federal officials are investigating the hacking they say might have started in August and was discovered last month. They say the vulnerability in the system has been fixed. The tax returns included millions of Social Security numbers and about 387,000 credit and debit-card numbers that were also exposed, 6,000 of those unencrypted. Tax information from businesses across the state might also have been accessed.
Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC NEWS Radio ABCNews.com twitter.com/daviesabc