Consumers fuel steady US economy as rest of world struggles
WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. economy slowed in the final three months of 2014, but a burst in consumer spending and the prospect of continued low energy prices are bolstering confidence that growth will strengthen this year.
The economy, as measured by the gross domestic product, grew at a 2.6 percent annual rate in the October-December period, the government said Friday. That was down from a sizzling 5 percent gain in the previous quarter.
Though business investment, government spending and trade weakened, consumers signaled rising confidence by stepping up their spending at the fastest rate in nearly nine years.
Markets brace for Big Oil profit plunge
NEW YORK (AP) — It's just a forecast, and for only one of 10 industry groups in the stock market. Yet it has almost singlehandedly turned what had been a strong earnings season into a weak one.
Profits for companies in the Standard & Poor's 500 index are expected to have grown in the fourth quarter at one of the lowest rates in years, just 2.2 percent.
The culprit: Energy companies that suffered as oil prices plunged. Their profits are expected to have dropped 23 percent, a collapse of fortune nearly unheard of outside of a recession, and one that has weighed on the stock market.
List: 10 Super Bowl ads you'll be talking about
NEW YORK (AP) — When the Super Bowl kicks off on Sunday, 40-plus advertisers will be hoping to win over the more than 110 million viewers expected to tune in.
After paying $4.5 million for a 30-second spot, advertisers are hoping to have the ad everyone will be talking about Monday morning.
Here are 10 Super Bowl ads to watch out for.
Shake Shack shares more than double in stock market debut
NEW YORK (AP) — Shares of Shake Shack, a burger chain that started as a New York City hot dog cart, more than doubled in their first day of trading. The small chain is now valued at more than $1.6 billion.
The company, which raised $105 million in its initial public offering, feeds into investors' growing appetite for restaurants that are quick but also serve food consumers think is healthier or fresher than what a fast-food chain offers.
It now has 63 locations, mostly on the East Coast, with plans for more.
Germany to Greece: Don't mess with us over debt, austerity
ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece and its European bailout creditors were in open dispute Friday.
Germany rejected suggestions that heavily-indebted Greece should be forgiven part of its rescue loans and warned against "blackmail" from Athens.
Greece's five-day-old radical left government insists it will honor pre-election promises to seek a cut on most of the country's rescue debt and scrap painful budget measures that were demanded in exchange for the loans.
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, however, warned Athens against strong-arm negotiating tactics in its effort to win debt relief.
Barbie blues gave Mattel holiday disappointment
Slumping sales of Barbie did little to bring a happy holiday to her maker, Mattel Inc.
Mattel's fourth-quarter earnings release Friday drilled down into the details of a weak performance that led to the resignation of its chairman and CEO.
Barbie sales fell 12 percent, though that wasn't as bad as the third quarter's 21 percent drop. Fisher-Price sales fell 11 percent. While American Girl slipped 4 percent, it was better than the 7 percent decline in the third quarter.
Hot Wheels sales rose 5 percent.
Interim CEO Christopher Sinclair said he will spend the next few months evaluating the company's businesses to "revitalize our brands."