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Business news briefs — Jan. 8

LOCAL BUSINESS

Natural gas price increases

The monthly natural gas price for residential customers who have chosen Dominion’s Standard Choice Offer (SCO), or those who don’t choose their own supplier, will go up slightly this month. Effective Jan. 14, the identical Standard Choice Offer and Standard Service Offer (SSO) rate is being rounded to $5.01 per thousand cubic feet (mcf).

The price is 59 cents/mcf, or 13 percent higher than the December rate of $4.42/mcf.

It is $1.06/mcf or 27 percent higher than the price a year ago, when prices were at record lows.

Even with the increase, the SCO pricing is about the same or lower than fixed prices offered by natural gas competitors. The SCO price is based on a state-approved formula of wholesale prices and an approved charge called an “adder.”

Dominion said the SCO/SSO residential customer’s bill for the month of January would be $121.73, up $4.53, or 3.9 percent, from $117.20 in January 2013.

Residential customers pay the same usage-based charges to deliver gas to a residence and $22.01 monthly service fee whether they choose a supplier or stay with Dominion.

RETAIL

New Barnes & Noble CEO

Bookseller Barnes & Noble has promoted the head of its Nook business to chief executive of company. The struggling retailer said Michael Huseby, 59, will take the role immediately. The post has been vacant since July when CEO William Lynch left the company.

Macy’s to cut 2,500 jobs

Macy’s Inc. is cutting 2,500 jobs as part of a reorganization to sustain its profitability. The announcement comes on the heels of a strong holiday shopping season. Macy’s said the moves will save it $100 million per year and predicted a 2014 profit above Wall Street’s forecasts.

ECONOMY

Holiday spending assessed

Retail sales rose 2.7 percent during the 2013 holiday season, the smallest increase since 2009, as stores’ profit-eating discounts failed to draw shoppers to malls, researcher ShopperTrak said. Customer traffic in November and December declined 15 percent from the same period a year earlier, the Chicago-based firm said. Consumers spent $265.9 billion, resulting in a larger sales gain than the 2.4 percent increase ShopperTrak had predicted. Holiday sales have risen at least 3 percent every year since declining 1.2 percent in 2009.

ENERGY

World reacts to U.S. drillers

The U.S. oil boom has put European refineries out of business and undercut West African crude suppliers. Now domestic drillers threaten to roil Asian markets and challenge producers in the Middle East and South America.

Fifteen European refineries have closed in the past five years, with a 16th due to shut this year, the International Energy Agency said, as the U.S. became a major exporter to the region.

Cheap oil from the Rocky Mountains, where output has grown 31 percent since 2011, will soon allow West Coast companies to cut back on imports of pricier grades from Saudi Arabia and Venezuela that they process for customers in Asia, the world’s fastest-growing market. “I don’t really think anyone saw this coming,” said Steve Sawyer, an analyst with FACTS Global Energy in London.

WALL STREET

Dow drops 68 points

The stock market stumbled as investors waited for the government’s jobs report on Friday and the beginning of quarterly earnings releases from corporate America.

Traders put aside a positive report that showed private employers created more jobs in December than economists had expected. The market had a muted reaction to minutes from the Federal Reserve’s mid-December policy meeting that showed officials saw diminishing economic benefits from the central bank’s bond buying program. The minutes didn’t describe a set schedule for the pace of asset-purchase reductions.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 68.20 points, or 0.4 percent, to 16,462.74. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 0.39 points, or 0.02 percent, to 1,837.49. The Nasdaq composite rose 12.43 points, or 0.3 percent, to 4,165.61.

Compiled from staff and wire reports.



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