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8:55 PM Fri, Oct. 19th

Business in Brief: US stocks set new, latest record high; investors don’t believe shutdown threats

US stocks set new, latest record high; investors don’t believe shutdown threats

Investors shrugged off the potential for a federal government shutdown Friday, driving U.S. stocks higher and setting new milestones for several of the indexes.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index, Nasdaq composite and Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks finished at record highs as the market bounced back from modest losses a day earlier.

The S&P 500 has now posted a weekly gain in nine of the last 10 weeks.

Retailers, banks and consumer goods companies accounted for much of the latest gains Friday. Energy stocks fell along with crude oil prices. Utilities also declined as bond yields edged up to their highest level in more than three years.

The market rally suggested that the possibility of a federal government shutdown this weekend wasn’t worrying traders.

“Looking back to some of the previous shutdowns, they weren’t terribly extended in nature and didn’t cause a lot of disruption by the time everything was done,” said Tim Dreiling, regional investment director at U.S. Bank Private Wealth Management.

“I don’t think it’s going to disrupt growth or make much of an impact on GDP, for example.”

Red Lobster’s plan: Kitchen

upgrades, online orders, small-plate dishes

NEW YORK (AP) — What’s on the menu for Red Lobster’s future? Delivery, online ordering and snack-friendly dishes, such as fries topped with cheese, fried clams and a layer of chowder.

The chain, which turns 50 this year, hopes the moves will hook diners at a time when many are shunning casual sit-down restaurants for cheaper, faster places.

After years of sales declines, Red Lobster was sold by the parent of Olive Garden nearly four years ago to private equity firm Golden Gate Capital.

The chain doesn’t release sales numbers, but CEO Kim Lopdrup said it has “made tremendous progress” since the sale.

The kitchens were recently redone at all Red Lobster locations, and online ordering is operational for 95 percent of the locations.

Red Lobster has are 750 restaurants in the U.S., with larger opportunity going international.

The franchise has opened 22 new restaurants abroad since 2014 — for a total of 44 franchise restaurants in nine countries and one U.S. territory. The big goal is to grow to at least 1,000 restaurants globally over the next 10 years.

Tax law gives unexpected break to farmers who sell to co-ops

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Key senators and farm groups are trying to fix a provision in the federal tax overhaul that gave an unexpected tax break to farmers who sell their crops to cooperatives rather than regular companies.

Lawmakers say they didn’t intend to give a competitive advantage to co-ops. But it’s not clear they can rework the legislation given the partisan divide on Capitol Hill. That means many companies — from local grain companies to agribusiness giants such as Cargill and ADM — could wind up paying more for crops than co-ops.

The provision from GOP Sens. John Thune of South Dakota and John Hoeven of North Dakota surfaced in the final days of the debate over the tax bill, which President Donald Trump signed last month. Thune and Hoeven wanted to replace a deduction that benefited co-ops in the old law, which was being dropped, and they wanted to make sure farmers didn’t wind up with a tax increase.

But the final language went further than maintaining the status quo. “I think at the end of the day what it boiled down to is the staff didn’t know what they were doing. ... They rushed this thing through,” said U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota, the ranking Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee.

Agricultural co-ops are typically owned by farmers, and they provide their members with help with marketing crops, purchasing supplies and various other services. They range from small and local co-ops to big, nationwide ones such as Land O’ Lakes and Sunkist Growers.

The new provision lets farmers deduct 20 percent of their gross sales to co-ops, but only 20 percent of their net income if they sell to other companies.

Farmers who do sell to regular companies may be able to command higher prices to help make up for the lower tax break.