RETAIL

J.C. Penney denies

exploring restructuring

J.C. Penney, looking to soothe rattled investors, said Friday it hasn't hired any advisers to prepare for an in-court restructuring or bankruptcy.

The company's statement came after a report said Penney was hiring experts to help restructure its debt.

Reuters reported Thursday that Penney has held discussions with lawyers and investment bankers who work with struggling companies on debt restructurings. It cited anonymous sources familiar with the matter.

Penney's shares fell nearly 17% Friday.

The department store chain based in Plano, Texas, continues to maintain strong liquidity but faces a $4 billion debt bill in the next few years.

WALL STREET

Stocks continue retreat

from recent record gains

U.S. stocks pulled further back from their records on Friday to cap the weakest week for the S&P 500 since May.

Indexes sloshed between small gains and losses for much of the day before turning lower in the afternoon after Iran said it seized a British oil tanker, the latest escalation of tensions between Tehran and the West. Reined-in expectations for how deeply the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates at its next meeting also weighed on stocks.

The S&P 500 fell 18.50 points, or 0.6%, to 2,976.61. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 68.77, or 0.3%, to 27,154.20. The Nasdaq composite lost 60.75, or 0.7%, to 8,146.49. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks dropped 7.73, or 0.5%, to 1,547.90.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Instagram expands test

of hiding 'likes' for posts

Instagram is expanding a test to hide how many "likes" people's posts receive as it tries to combat criticism that such counts hurt mental health and make people feel bad when comparing themselves to others.

The Facebook-owned photo-sharing service has been running the test in Canada since May. Now, Facebook said the test has been expanded to Ireland, Italy, Japan, Australia, Brazil and New Zealand.

The company would not comment on what it's learned from the Canada test or if it has plans to expand it to the United States any time soon.

TRAVEL

Carnival promises steps

to curb ocean pollution

Carnival Corp. executives pledged anew Friday that steps are being taken to curb ocean pollution, which was the subject of a recent $20 million federal penalty imposed because of continued environmental violations.

Carnival outlined some of those steps at a hearing before two skeptical Miami federal judges. Last month, Carnival admitted violating probation from a 2016 criminal pollution case — it paid a separate $40 million fine at the time — as its ships continued to cause environmental harm around the world since then.