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Business news briefs — Sept. 17

LOCAL BUSINESS

Free seminar on financing

Area businesses, finance institutions and community and economic development organizations can learn about nontraditional financing of projects at a free daylong seminar Oct. 31 organized by the Development Finance Authority of Summit County and the Greater Akron Chamber.

Topics will include an overview of the bond market, benefits of port authority financing, debt instruments used by the Development Finance Authority, as well as clean-energy bonds, and a federal program that provides incentives to attract foreign investments.

Presenters will be area legal and finance professionals.

The seminar called Non-Traditional Sources of Capital Finance will run from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron, 47 N. Main St.

For reservations, call the chamber at 330-237-1220.

Registration and breakfast will begin at 8 a.m. A complimentary lunch will be served. For information and a full agenda, click on “News & Events” on the home page of the Development Finance Authority’s website, www.developmentfinanceauthority.org. This Summit agency — which until last year was called the Summit County Port Authority — stimulates development by floating loans and issuing bonds for projects through its Jobs & Investment Bond Fund.

FirstEnergy declares dividend

FirstEnergy announced an unchanged quarterly dividend of 55 cents per share, payable Dec. 1 to shareholders of record Nov. 7.

Separately, the company said Luis A. Reyes has been elected a director. He retired from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 2011 with 33 years’ service.

ECONOMY

Lower holiday spending likely

A research firm said it expects holiday sales growth will be slower this year during the retail holiday season. Shoppers are also expected to visit fewer stores as they research purchases online.

Retail revenue in November and December should rise 2.4 percent during the biggest shopping period of the year, Chicago-based research firm ShopperTrak said. That compares with a 3 percent increase in 2012 from 2011.

Slow growth predicted

An Associated Press survey of more than two dozen economists showed predictions for the economy to grow at a 2.3 percent annual rate in the second half of 2013 and 2.6 percent in 2014. Japan is expected to grow 2.2 percent next year — far weaker than its 3.8 percent growth rate from April through June.

Normally, a healthy expansion in advanced economies produces annual growth of 3 percent or better. The United States expanded at an average pace of 3.25 percent from 1976 through 2007. But it hasn’t grown at a 3 percent rate or faster since 2005.

GAMBLING

Sports betting ban upheld

A federal appeals court dealt another blow to New Jersey’s efforts to legalize sports gambling, upholding a ruling that the state’s betting law conflicts with federal law and should not be implemented.

The case was heard by a three-judge panel at the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, and the state could seek to have the case reheard by the full appeals court.

Voters passed a sports betting referendum in 2011, and last year New Jersey enacted a law that limited bets to the Atlantic City casinos and the state’s horse racing tracks. Bets wouldn’t be taken on games involving New Jersey colleges or college games played in the state. Christie said at the time that he hoped to grant sports betting licenses by early this year, but those plans were put on hold.

The NFL, NBA, NHL, Major League Baseball and NCAA sued the state last year, and the NCAA moved several of its championship events out of New Jersey, though it later relented.

“In the dissent, the judge agrees with New Jersey’s central argument — that the law is unconstitutional since it prevents sports betting in New Jersey against the wishes of its own elected officials and citizens,” said Gov. Chris Christie’s spokesman Colin Reed in an email. “This makes the issue all the more appropriate to be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

STOCKS

Microsoft to buy back stock

Microsoft Corp., the world’s largest software maker, announced a new $40 billion stock buyback plan and increased its dividend 22 percent. The repurchase program, which has no expiration date, replaces another $40 billion buyback plan that was due to end.

The quarterly dividend will rise to 28 cents a share, payable Dec. 12 to shareholders of record Nov. 21.

Compiled from staff and wire reports



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