Business http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/business The latest Business news and blog posts from ABC News contributors and bloggers. Thu, 10 Jul 2014 12:01:02 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.2.1 Economy at Long Last Is Gaining Traction http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/business/2014/07/economy-at-long-last-is-gaining-traction/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/business/2014/07/economy-at-long-last-is-gaining-traction/#comments Thu, 10 Jul 2014 12:01:02 +0000 Richard Davies http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/business/?p=120449 Morning Money Memo…

It’s official. The Federal Reserve is sounding more confident that the US economy really is gaining strength. The Fed said in a statement that it plans to stop adding to its bond holdings by October. Interest rates are expected to remain low for a “considerable time” after the bond buying ends. Most investors believe the Fed will start raising rates in the second half of next year.

A new jobs survey out today suggests the market will continue to improve. “Employers expect to add more jobs in the back half of the year,” says Jennifer Grasz of CareerBuilder. The employment firm asked than 2,100 HR and hiring managers about their plans. “Nearly half of employers (47 percent) plan to hire full-time permanent employees over the next six months,” says Grasz. “The results of this year’s survey were indicative of a more confident employer population compared to 2013.”

Boeing is raising its long-term forecast for new airplane demand by more than 4 percent and it’s still the Asia-Pacific region that is driving most of the growth. Three of the largest US airlines are also giving positive signals about their business. Revenue at American, United and Southwest is up compared to the peak summer travel season last year. Since a series of big mergers that started in 2008, airlines have kept a lid on flights, which helps keeps fares high enough to overcome higher fuel prices.

The price of oil has fallen for nine straight days as global supplies continue to flow despite unrest in the Middle East, the world’s most important oil-producing region. The prolonged drop for wholesale crude could lead to lower gasoline prices for American motorists in the weeks ahead.

The insurgency in Iraq is far from resolved, but hasn’t halted oil exports. The fighting now seems unlikely to spread to Iraq’s major oil fields. Tensions between Israel and Hamas have escalated in the past week, but aren’t threatening any major oil production. Oil exports from Libya may rise after an agreement between the government and local militias cleared the way for export terminals to open. US production continues to soar.

Samsung Electronics says it’s looking into allegations that one of its Chinese suppliers hired children and underage student workers, who worked long hours without overtime pay and social insurance. The allegations from New York-based China Labor Watch conflict with Samsung’s recent report that says no child labor was found by an external audit of about 100 Chinese suppliers.

Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC News Radio abcnews.com Twitter: daviesnow

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Honda’s Air Bag Recall Gets Bigger http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/business/2014/07/hondas-air-bag-recall-gets-bigger/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/business/2014/07/hondas-air-bag-recall-gets-bigger/#comments Wed, 09 Jul 2014 11:57:39 +0000 Richard Davies http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/business/?p=120440 Morning Money Memo…

Another massive auto industry safety recall just got bigger. Honda, one of eight manufacturers affected by problems with a supplier’s air bags, is expanding its recall by as many as one million more autos in California. The air bags made by the Japanese firm Takata could explode in a crash, sending metal shards that can cause injuries to drivers and passengers. In recent weeks Honda has ordered four air-bag recalls involving a range of cars and SUVs as a precautionary measure. Takata “has said the propellant inside the inflator was not properly prepared and was too powerful,” reports The New York Times.

It’s just the thing for helicopter parents. LG has come up with a new plastic wearable wristband called the KizON which would allow parents to track their child’s movements, and listen-in on what’s going on. Using Wi-Fi and GPS, KizON’s one-step direct calling feature gives children the ability to call home with a single button — and vice versa. If the child doesn’t pick up within 10 seconds, the device will automatically answer, letting mom and dad listen in on what’s going on in the background. The large plastic wristbands may be controversial. They go on sale in South Korea tomorrow and LG plans to introduce KizONs in North America and Europe later this year.

Strong earnings from Alcoa: the first big company to report second quarter numbers. The big aluminum maker made $138 million in profits. In the same quarter last year Alcoa lost $119 million. Alcoa has struggled in recent years with low aluminum prices and has increased its focus on making sheets and other products for manufacturers of airplanes and autos, which value aluminum for its light weight.

A global study on the financial knowledge of 15-year-old boys and girls puts the U.S. in the middle of the pack. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development researched 18 countries. Kids in Shanghai had the highest average score. An OECD official says Shanghai schools identify students who are struggling and provide the support they need to be successful.

Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC News Radio abcnews.com Twitter: daviesnow

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Mortgage Mess Settlement Means $3B for Homeowners http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/business/2014/07/mortgage-mess-settlement-means-3b-for-homeowners/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/business/2014/07/mortgage-mess-settlement-means-3b-for-homeowners/#comments Tue, 08 Jul 2014 13:07:22 +0000 Richard Davies http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/business/?p=120427 Morning Money Memo:

The impact of the mortgage mess keeps rumbling through the economy, nearly seven years after the crisis began. A new report says homeowners have received about $3.1 billion in cash as part of a federal settlement with 13 big banks. The deal came after allegations of misconduct in processing mortgages that may have resulted in wrongful foreclosures. The Federal Reserve says about 83 percent  of 4.2 million borrowers covered in the settlement cashed checks by the last week of April. The amounts paid range from several hundred dollars to $125,000. The 13 banks include Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Goldman Sachs. The total $9.3 billion settlement called for $3.6 billion in cash payments and $5.7 billion in aid such as reduced mortgage loans.

Cable cord-cutting is a fact of life for growing numbers of Americans seeking to reduce their monthly entertainment bills. The number of people with high-speed Internet who don’t have cable or satellite TV rose from just over 5 million in 2010 to more than 7.5 million in 2013, according to Experian Marketing Services. “What consumers really are asking for is they want content on their own terms,” says Albert Lai, chief technology officer of media at Brightcove, a provider of cloud computing solutions. “Consumers over the past three to four years really have changed their attitude and expectation when it comes to digital content.” They watch TV on a range of devices and “want all content on every screen at any time of the day.” Many but by no means all cable companies offer subscribers “TV everywhere” services. But some consumers are switching to Netflix, Hulu, Chromecast, Amazon Prime, Apple TV and other streaming services.

Four out of 10 Americans have cut their landline phone cord, living with cellphones only. “The biggest predictor of whether or not someone is wireless only is whether they own or rent their home,” says Stephen Blumberg of the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. “Renters are more than twice as likely as owners to be wireless only.” Experts say many people who are holding onto their landlines only do so because they’re part of their Internet and cable-TV package.

Drivers with three trucking companies at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have begun what they say is an indefinite strike. Right now the impact on the movement of cargo around of the biggest gateway trade with Asia is limited. But the threat of a broader disruption would grow if striking truckers take their pickets from the offices of their employers to the dockside terminals.

The cupcake company Crumbs says it’s closing all its 65 stores. Most are in the Northeast and Washington, D.C. In the past few years, Crumbs suffered a big decline in sales. Employees were told the bad news Monday. Crumbs will file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation.

Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC News Radio abcnews.com Twitter: daviesnow

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Dialing Up Problems? Samsung’s Profits Plunge http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/business/2014/07/dialing-up-problems-samsungs-profits-plunge/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/business/2014/07/dialing-up-problems-samsungs-profits-plunge/#comments Mon, 07 Jul 2014 12:05:41 +0000 Richard Davies http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/business/?p=120415  

GTY samsung kab 140707 16x9 608 Dialing Up Problems? Samsungs Profits Plunge

                                       (Photo Credit: Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images)

Morning Money Memo:

One of the business world’s biggest success stories in recent years may be set for some unhappy chapters going forward. South Korea’s Samsung Electronics is facing a third straight decline in quarterly profits. While the company remains the world’s largest seller of smartphones, profit margins for some popular brands are small. Cheaper phones manufactured by rival firms are taking a larger bite out of Samsung’s market share, especially in Asia. The website Techcrunch reports that almost one in four of Xiaomi’s handset customers in China had recently switched from a Samsung device. A Thomson Reuters poll of analysts expects a 12.6 percent drop in second-quarter earnings when Samsung reports Tuesday.

Another dose of good news for the U.S. economy helped give a lift to the stock market last week. For the first time in its 118-year history, the Dow Jones index closed above 17,000. While stock futures fell slightly this morning, last week’s surveys on jobs and manufacturing were strong. This week marks the start of quarterly earnings reports. Wall Street analysts expect that many big names will report double-digit profit gains.

Jeep is facing a challenge with the redesign of its popular Wrangler SUV. Jeep is considering a lighter body, more gears and a smaller engine to improve fuel economy, according to Automotive News. Today’s version burns a lot of gas, with just 18 mpg combined city and highway. But Wrangler’s off-road performance is a hit with loyal consumers. The trick is to combine fuel efficiency required by government standards with a vehicle that does not turn off its biggest fans.

American Apparel is reported to be in talks with a New York hedge fund to raise emergency funds. A loan became due after the board unanimously voted to fire founder and CEO Dov Charney. “Bankers are still working out the terms of the financing from Standard General,” The Wall Street Journal reports. It’s unclear what role Charney would play at the retail firm in the future.

The ballots are due by Friday in Detroit’s bankruptcy vote. Retired city workers will decide how quickly the city gets out of bankruptcy. Most retirees are being asked to take about a 4 and a half percent pension cut with no cost-of-living increases. Their pension boards are urging a “yes” vote on the plan. Voting “no,” they warn, could result in deeper pension cuts.

Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC News Radio abcnews.com Twitter: daviesnow

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June Unemployment Rate Drops http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/business/2014/07/june-unemployment-rate-drops/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/business/2014/07/june-unemployment-rate-drops/#comments Thu, 03 Jul 2014 13:17:10 +0000 Richard Davies http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/business/?p=120407 Morning Money Memo…

The jobs market is heating up with a stronger than expected June employment report today from the Labor Department.

The U.S. economy added 288,000 jobs and the unemployment rate dropped from 6.3 percent to 6.1 percent. June was the fifth month in a row when more than 200,000 new jobs were added. That’s stronger than last year’s jobs market.

“I don’t see any reason why this shouldn’t continue, even improve,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics. “Early in the economic recovery, most of the job growth was among low-paying jobs. Now, it’s high-paying jobs and even some middle-paying jobs. A lot of that’s related to what’s going on in housing and construction and government.”

Businesses are taking on more workers and limiting job cuts. Jobs were added in health care, professional and business services, retail, bars and restaurants. Some local government jobs were also added, primarily in the education sector.

The workforce participation rate remained the same, which was not so encouraging. An increase in this rate would be another strong sign for the job market.

The global outplacement consulting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas said, “June job cuts were 20 percent lower than the same month a year ago.”

Obama: Banks Need More Rules

Almost four years after Congress passed the Dodd-Frank reform bill in response to the financial crisis, banks are still in need of more rules, President Obama said.

Bank customers need to be better protected against failed risk-taking, he said, adding that bank traders can still make huge bonuses on high-risk trades. If the bets go bad, the president told APM’s Marketplace, “everybody else is left holding the bag.”

Obama did not specify what changes he would recommend. Recently, he has met with groups of economists, including Stanford’s Anat Admati, who has called for banning large banks from making payouts to shareholders until they can better deal with any losses.

Amazon vs. FTC Over Sales to Kids

Amazon appears prepared to go to court against the Federal Trade Commission. The online giant is defending itself against charges that it has not done enough to prevent children from making unauthorized in-app purchases.

Amazon said it had already refunded money to parents who complained. Apple agreed to a $32.5 million fine in January over a similar matter.

Bitcoin Boost

Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper has snapped up nearly 30,000 bitcoins in a government auction. He plans to sell the digital currency in countries trying to build stronger economies. Draper prevailed over 44 other bidders registered for an auction of bitcoins seized last year from Silk Road, a website that stockpiled the currency while selling illegal drugs.

China Loosens Up on Currency

China has announced a new step toward easing its tight currency controls, allowing banks to set their own exchange rates in dealings with customers. Today’s announcement was the latest in a series of moves intended to make China’s government-controlled financial system more market-oriented.

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Goldman Sachs ‘Boys Club’ Condemned in Discrimination Lawsuit http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/business/2014/07/goldman-sachs-boys-club-condemned-in-discrimination-lawsuit/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/business/2014/07/goldman-sachs-boys-club-condemned-in-discrimination-lawsuit/#comments Wed, 02 Jul 2014 12:48:35 +0000 Richard Davies http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/business/?p=120393 Morning Money Memo:

The big investment bank Goldman Sachs has been slapped with a gender-discrimination lawsuit and accused of fostering a “boys club atmosphere.” Visits to strip clubs and a work environment that was generally hostile to women are among the claims being made by two former Goldman employees who want a judge to approve their lawsuit for class-action status. The two women first filed a claim against Goldman in 2010. “This constellation of evidence reflects widespread concerns among women about gender bias and a ‘boys club’ atmosphere; the sexualization of women and an uncorrected culture of sexual harassment and assault,” the complaint says. Cristina Chen-Oster, a former Goldman vice president, and former associate Shanna Orlich allege that the company routinely paid women less than men. Goldman Sachs denies the allegations. “This is a normal and anticipated procedural step for any proposed class-action lawsuit and does not change the case’s lack of merit,” the company said in  a statement.

The Federal Trade Commission has accused the wireless carrier T-Mobile of adding hundreds of millions of dollars of bogus charges to customers’ accounts without their consent. The cellphone carrier reportedly billed consumers for subscriptions to premium text services such as $10-per-month horoscopes that were never authorized by the account holder. “T-Mobile knew about these fraudulent charges and failed to stop them,”  FTC consumer protection chief Jessica Rich says. The FCC is doing its own investigation into the company’s billing practices. In a statement T-Mobile says the accusations are without merit.

Most young workers may not be worried about saving for retirement because it’s decades away. But personal finance experts say starting early can give savers a big head start. “Even small amounts with a long horizon make a huge, huge difference,” says Julie Jason, chief investment officer at the retirement planning firm Jackson Grant. If you start putting away a small amount each week in your 20s, it’s much better than waiting until your 30s or 40s, she says. “The younger you are and the earlier you start to invest the more you can take advantage of compounding,” she adds, adding that the gains from compound interest rates “are just incredible as to how much more you can have over a long period of time.”

Is Vegas coming back from the recession? Two major resorts will be completely overhauled and rebranded. Caesars Entertainment says it’s investing $223 million to overhaul The Quad, an aging 2,256-room hotel on the Las Vegas Strip. In a separate announcement, timeshare company Westgate Resorts said it had purchased the LVH, a hard-hit property that was formerly known as the Las Vegas Hilton.

Wall Street is starting the day on a high note after Tuesday’s record close. The Dow Jones Industrial Index climbed within 2 points of 17,000 for the first time. The S&P 500 gained 7 tenths of 1 percent Tuesday. Futures rose this morning and Asian stocks closed mostly higher. Analysts say the latest trigger for stock gains came from strong manufacturing surveys in the United States, Canada and China.

Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC News Radio abcnews.com Twitter: daviesnow

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GM Recalls Outnumber Six Years of Sales http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/business/2014/07/gm-recalls-outnumber-six-years-of-sales/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/business/2014/07/gm-recalls-outnumber-six-years-of-sales/#comments Tue, 01 Jul 2014 12:32:12 +0000 Richard Davies http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/business/?p=120384

Morning Money Memo…

The numbers are staggering. In the first six months of this year General Motors announced the recall of more than 29 million cars. That’s the largest number of recalls ever in one year by a single auto manufacturer. So far GM’s new car sales have not been hit hard by the dent to its reputation, but that might change when June sales are announced today by the auto industry. GM announced Monday the recall of 8.2 million more vehicles, most of them for faulty ignition switches. The company says it will take an additional $500 million charge against earnings to pay for the new recalls. So far GM has said it will spend $2.5 billion to fix safety problems. But this does not include the newly announced compensation fund for victims of crashes linked to flawed vehicles.

“So far these recalls haven’t impacted current sales and have had minimal impact on consumer perception, but we’re hitting unprecedented numbers and it’s reasonable for people to start asking, when and where will it end?” says Karl Brauer, senior analyst for Kelley Blue Book. “A quick look at GM’s sales records for the past 10 years, shows that the company has now officially recalled in the first six months of 2014 more cars that it has sold from 2007 to 2013,” says the Consumerist blog.

A federal watchdog warns retirement plans covering roughly 1.5 million American workers are severely underfunded, threatening benefit cuts for current and future retirees. The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation says multi-employer plans, collectively bargained retirement plans maintained by more than one employer, are most at risk, At the same time, the agency says single-employer pension plans — covering a little more than 30 million participants — are on firmer financial footing and are likely to remain so at least over the next 10 years.

The stock market ended the second quarter with solid gains. The S&P 500 is up 6 percent since the beginning of this year. Most of those gains came since April. Stock averages closed down slightly yesterday.

Samsung says dozens of its Chinese suppliers are committing labor violations. The world’s largest smartphone maker says an external audit covered 100 of the company’s Chinese suppliers in its annual social responsibility report. The violations included minors handling chemicals, failure to provide safety gear and excessive working hours. Samsung came under fire in 2012 over allegations of “inhumane” working conditions.

The Justice Department says France’s largest bank, BNP Paribas, has agreed to pay nearly $9 billion to resolve criminal allegations that it processed transactions for clients in Sudan and other blacklisted countries in violation of US trade sanctions. The bank pleaded guilty to state charges in New York and plans another guilty plea in federal court next month. After months of negotiations, BNP admitted to violating U.S. trade sanctions by processing billions of dollars in illegal transactions on behalf of clients in Sudan, Cuba and Iran.

Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC News Radio abcnews.com Twitter: daviesnow

AP chevy cobalt kab 140701 16x9 608 GM Recalls Outnumber Six Years of Sales

Mark Stahl/AP Photo

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GM Could Make Huge Payments to Crash Victims http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/business/2014/06/gm-could-make-huge-payments-to-crash-victims/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/business/2014/06/gm-could-make-huge-payments-to-crash-victims/#comments Mon, 30 Jun 2014 13:05:12 +0000 Richard Davies http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/business/?p=120372  

GTY mary barra kab 140630 16x9 608 GM Could Make Huge Payments to Crash Victims

                     (Image Credit: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

Morning Money Memo:

General Motors today plans to announce its compensation plan, paying victims of crashes caused by bad ignition switches. CEO Mary Barra has said there won’t be any cap on payments. The decision on how much to pay claimants is being made by compensation expert Kenneth Feinberg. GM says the faulty switches are responsible for at least 54 crashes and more than 13 deaths, but lawyers and lawmakers say the death toll is closer to 100. Feinberg’s payments could go into the hundreds of millions of dollars, if not billions.

This year has been a record year for auto-safety recalls. But many recalled cars are not repaired by used car dealers before they are sold to consumers. “It’s critical if there’s an air bag issue that it be addressed in your car,” executive market analyst Jack Nerad of Kelley Blue Book says. “It’s important that if your car has been recalled for you to know it and then do something about it.” Under current law, consumers, not dealers, have responsibility for responding to recalls. “The first thing people should do is either check sites like ours kbb.com, or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration site,” he adds.

Are you planning a summer road trip? Be prepared for sticker shock at the pump. The price of gas is heating up as summer kicks into high gear. This will be the most expensive July 4th holiday since 2008. Gas prices in some of the most populous states are close to or above $4. Earlier this year most industry analysts had forecast lower gas prices for this summer. The calculations were upset by the growing war in Iraq and instability elsewhere in the oil-rich Middle East.

Online-streaming service Aereo is closing down its operation for now, a few days after it was dealt a devastating defeat by the Supreme Court. “We have decided to pause our operations temporarily as we consult with the court and map out our next steps,” Aereo said in a letter to customers posted on its website. The Supreme Court dealt Aereo a major setback Wednesday in ruling that the television-over-the-Internet service operates much like a cable TV company. As a result, the service violates copyright law unless Aereo pays broadcasters licensing fees for offering TV stations.

“Transformers: Age of Extinction” is ruling the box office. The fourth installment of filmmaker Michael Bay’s morphing robots series earned $100 million in its opening weekend, making it the biggest debut for a movie in 2014, according to studio estimates. The Paramount film also earned $201.3 million from 37 international territories. “Transformers” stars Mark Wahlberg and Nicola Peltz as a human father and daughter who aid the transforming robots from the Hasbro toy franchise. “Transformers: Dark of the Moon,” the previous installment in the series, took in $97.8 million during its opening weekend in 2011.

Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC News Radio abcnews.com Twitter: daviesnow

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GM Puts the Brakes on Cruze, Its Most Popular Car http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/business/2014/06/gm-puts-the-brakes-on-cruze-its-most-popular-car/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/business/2014/06/gm-puts-the-brakes-on-cruze-its-most-popular-car/#comments Thu, 26 Jun 2014 12:39:55 +0000 Richard Davies http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/business/?p=120359 GTY gm ml 140626 16x9 608 GM Puts the Brakes on Cruze, Its Most Popular Car

                               (Photo Credit: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

Morning Money Memo:

General Motors is telling dealers to stop selling all models of its bestselling 2013 and 2014 Chevrolet Cruze sedan because of an air bag problem. “We are working diligently with the supplier to identify the parts in the affected vehicles so we can resume delivery,” a GM spokesman told Automotive News. The potentially faulty airbags are made by Takata, the Japanese supplier already linked to a sweeping recall of other vehicles. The stop-delivery order is a setback for GM dealers, deprived of the top-selling car on their lots. The Cruze may have a flawed driver’s side air bag deflator. “The Cruze stop-sale order is a positive move, overall, because it reflects GM’s higher focus on safety,” says Karl Brauer, senior analyst for Kelley Blue Book’s KBB.com. “However, these blanket stop orders will have a short-term impact on sales volume, especially when they involve a high-volume model like the Cruze during the height of the summer-selling season.”

A new survey of more than 2,000 hiring and HR professionals finds more employers are looking at job seekers’ social media activity. And in some cases applicants are rejected because of postings on Facebook and other sites. “Fifty-one percent of employers say they now have found something on social media that has caused them not to hire somebody and that is up from 34 percent in 2012,” Michael Erwin of CareerBuilder says. “This means that you now more than ever have to be very careful of what you are posting on social media and what your friends are posting.” It’s difficult to erase old social media postings.

Google says it has begun deleting some search results at the request of users, following the European Union’s “right-to-be-forgotten” ruling. People have a right to ask for the removal of irrelevant or embarrassing personal information that pops up on a search of their names. Several weeks after the decision by the European Court of Justice, the company set up an online interface for users to register complaints. Google spokesman Al Verney says the company began taking down some results this week, but it has a backlog to work through. He said “each request has to be assessed individually.” Google is only deleting information that appears on its own results pages. It has no control over information on websites.

Ikea’s U.S. division is raising the minimum wage for thousands of its retail workers, pegging it to the cost of living in each location instead of to local competition. The new minimum, to take effect in the beginning of 2015, amounts to a 17 percent  increase for the lowest-paid employees. About half of Ikea’s 11,000 hourly store workers will get a raise. The move represents a big shift in approach. Ikea, which has cultivated a reputation for fair treatment of its workers, evaluates its benefits plans every year and had always adjusted wages based on its competition. But Rob Olson, Ikea’s acting U.S. president, says the company is focusing less on what rivals do and more on the needs of its work

The New York state attorney general is suing the British-owned bank Barclays. Eric Schneiderman accuses the firm of making false statements about its “dark pool” private stock trading platform and other aspects of its electronic trading division. He is seeking unspecified damages and wants Barclays to change what it’s doing. Schneiderman says Barclays’ system favors high-frequency traders at the expense of other investors. High-speed firms use highly complex computer data to buy and sell large amounts of stocks in microseconds, taking advantage of tiny changes in stock prices. “The facts alleged in our complaint show that Barclays demonstrated a disturbing disregard for its investors in a systematic pattern of fraud and deceit,” Schneiderman says.

Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC News Radio abcnews.com Twitter: daviesnow

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What to Consider Before You Post a Review to a Consumer Rating Website http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/business/2014/06/what-to-consider-before-you-post-a-review-to-a-consumer-rating-website/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/business/2014/06/what-to-consider-before-you-post-a-review-to-a-consumer-rating-website/#comments Wed, 25 Jun 2014 23:54:36 +0000 ABC News http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/business/?p=120348 GTY computer laptop tablet sk 140626 16x9 608 What to Consider Before You Post a Review to a Consumer Rating Website

(Credit: Getty Images)

When Travis Hartinger found his dream home in Chicago, only one thing was missing.

“We needed to update the kitchen,” said Hartinger, who works in apartment sales and lives with his wife.

So he saved up for the $45,000 fix, took out a loan and called in a contractor. Hartinger told ABC News he liked almost all of the work that was done — except the time frame.

“I was really happy with the finished product,” he said. “I just thought they took too long to complete it.”

Related: Woman Sued After Giving Bad Online Reviews

Related: Ratings Sites like Yelp and Angie’s List in the Hot Seat

Related: Website Lets Businesses Share Notes on Customers

And that’s why Hartinger — like many other Americans have — went online and wrote a review of the company.

“At the end, we are 95% happy with how everything turned out but we were told that this would be a 3-4 month project and by the time everything was signed off it was closer to 6-7 months. I would never refer them to anyone,” he wrote.

To his surprise, after he posted the review on a consumer rating website, he was slapped with a legal letter. In it, the contractor accused him of making “false comments” and said it was pulling the plug on his 10-year warranty.

Experts say it’s a growing issue: business owners retaliating after customers post critical comments on everything from handymen to dentists.

“These lawsuits are a form of bullying,” said Evan Mascagni, the policy director of the Public Participation Project. “They’re a tactic to silence your critics and force them into submission to pull down their negative review.”

But some small business owners said that they rely on word of mouth and that sometimes a negative comment was unfair and devastating.

Consumer advocates said there’s no way to guarantee that you won’t be sued but they suggested keeping these guidelines in mind when posting a review online:

1. Stick to opinions: Use words like “I think” and “in my experience.”

2. Get evidence: If there’s proof — i.e. a hair in your food or a discrepancy on your bill — snap some pictures for backup.

3. Read the fine print: Before signing any contracts with a business, make sure there’s no clause forbidding you from voicing your opinions online.

The third tip is a mistake Hartinger said he’d never make again.

“I had no idea signing this contract meant signing away my right to [an] honest review,” he said.

The good news for Hartinger: After a request for comment from ABC News, the Chicago company said it would reinstate Hartinger’s 10-year warranty.

ABC News’ Rebecca Jarvis and Michael Koenigs contributed to this story.

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