LOCAL BUSINESS

KSU plans women’s program

Financial literacy, workplace skills and communication abilities are among workshop topics at the Spirit of Women in Business conference from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 7 at the Kent Student Center on the Kent State University campus.

This year’s theme of the event is The Empowered Woman.

The breakfast keynote speaker will be DeLores Pressley, motivational speaker, author and founder of the BornSuccessful Institute. The luncheon keynote speaker will be Regina Brett, Plain Dealer columnist and host of the Regina Brett Show on WKSU.

Early registration is $25 and ends Jan. 31. Late or on-site registration is $40. Students pay $10 for preregistration by Jan. 31 or $15 for late or on-site registration.

More information is available online at www.kent.edu/business/wib. Vendors should register by Feb. 10.

RETAIL

J.C. Penney sets price changes

J.C. Penney Co. wants to redefine its department store with monthlong sales and committing to 10 new shops inside all 1,100 stores by August.

Penney’s new CEO, Ron Johnson, and his newly assembled management team, including President Michael Francis, told analysts, reporters and vendors that Penney is going to put realistic prices on everything and abandon the old ways of speaking to customers.

Gone are the dollar and percent-off coupons, morning-only sales, additional markdowns at the register and all the “gimmicks,” Johnson said.

It will get rid of signs with promotional prices above the racks telling shoppers how much off the artificially inflated “full” prices they’re getting. Also, prices will no longer end in 99 cents.

WALL STREET

Dow finishes up 81 points

The Dow Jones industrial average closed up Wednesday by 81.21 points, or 0.6 percent, at 12,756.96. That’s the highest close since May 10. The Dow peaked last year in April at 12,810. Before that, it had not been so high since May 2008.

In the bond market, the yield on the 10-year Treasury note was at 2.05 percent an hour before an announcement by the Federal Reserve that interest rates would remain low, and quickly fell to 1.92, a significant move. It rose to 1.99 percent two hours later.

The yield on the five-year Treasury note hit 0.76 percent, an all-time low. Bond yields fall when their prices rise.

The promise of lower rates pushed the dollar lower against other major currencies. Low interest rates make the dollar less attractive because they reduce the returns traders get on U.S. debt and other bonds priced in dollars.

Apple once again passed Exxon Mobil as the company with the biggest market value. Apple stock jumped 6.3 percent, helping lift the Nasdaq composite index by 31.67 points, or 1.1 percent, to close at 2,818.31. The Nasdaq is up 8.2 percent this year, nearly twice the gain for the Dow.

Netflix Inc., the DVD-by-mail and video streaming provider, jumped 13 percent in after-hours trading after reporting earnings that far exceeded Wall Street’s expectations.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 11.41 points, or 0.9 percent, to 1,326.06. The S&P is up 5.4 percent for the year and more than 14 percent from its Nov. 25 low.

LABOR

Indiana making change

Indiana is poised to become the first right-to-work state in more than a decade after the Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed legislation banning unions from collecting mandatory fees from workers.

It is yet another blow to organized labor in the heavily unionized Midwest, which is home to many of the country’s manufacturing jobs. Wisconsin last year stripped unions of collective bargaining rights.

The vote came after weeks of protest by minority Democrats who tried various tactics to stop the bill. They refused to show up to debate despite the threat of fines that totaled $1,000 per day and introduced dozens of amendments aimed at delaying a vote.

But the House voted 54-44 to make Indiana the nation’s 23rd right-to-work state. The measure is expected to face little opposition in Indiana’s Republican-controlled Senate and could reach Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels’ desk shortly before the Feb. 5 Super Bowl in Indianapolis.

“This announces, especially in the Rust Belt, that we are open for business here,” Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma said.

Republicans handily outnumber Democrats in the House 60-40, but Democrats have just enough members to deny the Republicans the 67 votes needed to achieve a quorum and conduct any business. Bosma began fining boycotting Democrats $1,000 a day last week, but a Marion County judge blocked the collection of those fines.

Compiled from staff and wire reports