RadioShack´s bankruptcy filing.

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It’s official: RadioShack has filed for bankruptcy.

In a release on Thursday evening, the electronics retailer disclosed that it has reached an agreement with hedge fund Standard General for the firm to purchase up to 2,400 of its stores.

To facilitate this sale, the company has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Delaware.

Standard General’s affiliate, General Wellness, has also reached an agreement with Sprint to, “establish a new dedicated mobility ‘store within a store’ retail presence in up to 1,750 of the acquired stores.”

In a statement, RadioShack said:

RadioShack currently has approximately 4,000 company owned stores in the U.S. Its more than 1,000 dealer franchise stores in 25 countries, the stores operated by its Mexican subsidiary, and its Asia operations are not included in the Chapter 11 filing or the agreements announced today.

Discussions are underway with interested parties to sell all of the company’s remaining assets.

Joe Magnacca, RadioShack’s chief executive officer, said, “These steps are the culmination of a thorough process intended to drive maximum value for our stakeholders.”

In a separate announcement, Sprint said it will occupy about one-third of the space in RadioShack locations in which it operates a “store within a store,” with Sprint employees selling mobile devices and plans.

The stores will be co-branded, with Sprint being the primary brand on storefronts and in marketing materials.

RadioShack’s bankrupt filing marks the end of a long march towards bankruptcy, as the company’s sales have deteriorated in recent years and the stock has fallen by more than 99% over the last decade.

Target to shut down Canada.

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Target Corp. said Thursday that it was giving up on its money-losing operation in Canada, and would shut all 133 of its stores there.

The company said its Target Canada subsidiary was seeking protection under Canada’s Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act, and that it would seek approval to contribute toward employee severance costs, and appoint a liquidator to oversee the wind-down of its stores.

Target entered Canada with great expectations in 2013, only to be beset by slow store traffic, merchandising problems, perceived pricing issues and the failure to distinguish itself in a market experiencing a concurrent expansion by U.S. rival Wal-Mart Stores. Its ongoing struggles there were a factor in the exit last year of CEO Greg Steinhafel, analysts said.

Brian Cornell

Brian Cornell

New CEO Brian Cornell said it he would evaluate the possibility of continuing operations there but on Thursday acknowledged that holiday sales did not reach levels the company was seeking, and that profitability remained far off.

“After a thorough review of our Canadian performance and careful consideration of the implications of all options, we were unable to find a realistic scenario that would get Target Canada to profitability until at least 2021,” Cornell said in a statement. “Personally, this was a very difficult decision, but it was the right decision for our company. With the full support of Target Corporation’s Board of Directors, we have determined that it is in the best interest of our business and our shareholders to exit the Canadian market and focus on driving growth and building further momentum in our U.S. business.”

The decision will result in a $5.4 billion pre-tax fourth-quarter loss against Target Canada, which will be decoupled from Target, the company said. Target expects to report approximately $275 million of pre-tax losses on discontinued operations in fiscal 2015. Cash costs to wind down the operation are expected to be between $500 million and $600 million.

Target’s frozen, dairy and dry grocery items were supplied by Canadian supermarket operator Sobeys. A spokesman for Sobeys told SN Thursday that the company was disappointed to hear the news but that the loss of the account would not have a material impact on Sobeys’ results.

United States; Food and beverage sector boosts job numbers.

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Approximately 10% of new retail jobs in November came from the food and beverage sector, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Of 50,200 jobs created between October and November, 5,700 were in food and beverage stores — essentially, supermarkets — according to BLS figures released Friday.

That compares with 4,700 new jobs among health and personal care stores — essentially, drugstores; 1,200 at general merchandise stores; and 26,500 at restaurants, the BLS reported.

During the 12 months from November 2013 to November 2014, employment at food and beverage stores totaled 3.03 million, compared with 2.96 million at the beginning of that period, Tom Braun, principal at Braun Resources, Mahwah, N.J., told SN.

He said he is “encouraged” that employment is up in the food and beverage sector, calling the increases “significant.”

However, he said it was not clear if the increases meant more people might shop for food at supermarkets or patronize restaurants more often.

Looking at the economy as a whole, the BLS said the unemployment rate in November remained unchanged fgrom October at 5.8%, or 9.1 million people, compared with 7% unemployment, or 10.8 million people, a year earlier.

Señales muy positivas de repunte económico en Estados Unidos.

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La economía de EE.UU. parece inclinada a acelerarse este trimestre y tal vez podría crecer más de 4 por ciento luego de un invierno muy desalentador, según expertos.

Una encuesta hecha por el diario The Wall Street Journal a 48 economistas arrojó que el consenso es que el crecimiento del producto bruto anualizado sea de 3,3 por ciento.

Nueve de esos economistas dijeron que su predicción es que la economía crezca 4 por ciento o más en el segundo trimestre del año.

La semana pasada el Departamento de Comercio reportó un crecimiento de solo 0,1 por ciento del producto interno bruto en el primer trimestre.

Pero datos sobre construcción y exportaciones en marzo divulgados con posterioridad han hecho pensar a los economistas que durante ese período la economía realmente se contrajo.

Sin embargo, informaciones preliminares del mes de abril confirman que como muchos previeron la economía está repuntando.

No solo las nóminas no agrícolas mostraron en abril una sólida ganancia de 288 mil nuevos empleos sino que también la manufactura y los servicios dieron señales de crecimiento.

Fuente: Abasto Online.

U.S. unemployment rate drops to 7%, lowest since 2008.

U.S. unemployment rate falls to 7%Retired U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Thomas Gipson, right, has his resume looked over by Ralph Brown during a job fair for veterans in Marietta, Ga. (David Goldman, Associated Press / November 14, 2013)

A surprisingly robust gain in new jobs last month helped drop the unemployment rate to a five-year low, fueling optimism about the nation’s economic recovery and raising the prospect that the government may finally start to ease a key stimulus effort this month.

In its report Friday, the Labor Department said that the nation’s employers added 203,000 non-farm jobs in November and that a large part of them were higher-paying positions. The unemployment rate fell to 7%, the lowest since November 2008.

“It’s not just the quantity of the jobs but the quality,” said Diane Swonk, chief economist at Mesirow Financial. “These are higher-wage jobs, and a shift from a reliance on leisure and hospitality and retail gains we had seen in recent months.”

Big increases in manufacturing and construction gave experts hope that the labor market was starting to produce enough solid jobs to fuel stronger economic growth and lead the Federal Reserve to pull back on its monthly purchases of $85 billion in bonds.

The economy has averaged more than 200,000 net new jobs a month for the last four months. That’s the sustained level that central bank officials have said they wanted to see before starting to reduce the monthly bond purchases, part of their effort to spur the recovery from the Great Recession.

Despite fears that the Fed’s easy money policies might start ending, investors cheered the upbeat labor market news, the biggest in a series of positive economic reports recently. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 198.69 points, or 1.26%, to close at 16,020.20.

Wall Street is “waking up to the fact that good news really is good news,” said Alan Whitman, managing director at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management in Pasadena. “It means the economy is able to carry itself on its own, and that’s really what we want.”

Construction companies added 17,000 jobs in November, up 42% from the previous month, as the housing market rebound created more demand. And the nation’s factories added 27,000 workers, the most in 20 months and 69% more than in October.

Layoffs, meanwhile, have been dropping. Roy Paulson has seen business at his Paulson Manufacturing Corp. in Temecula pick up this year domestically and abroad.

“We were planning for layoffs in October, November, December because that’s what we traditionally do, but we didn’t have layoffs,” he said.

The company, which makes safety products such as face shields for industrial use, first responders and the military, normally would be down to 110 workers at this time of year. But there are 150 workers keeping the factory operating around the clock at times to fill rush orders.

The improving economy has led Paulson to boost production despite concern about tax and spending policy in Washington.

“I’m doing what I need to do. I’m not holding back on hiring,” Paulson said.

Other employers remain worried, though, about whether there will be another partial government shutdown when a short-term federal spending bill expires on Jan. 15.

“We’ve seen a ton of hesitancy by companies to invest in bricks and mortar because of what’s going on in the political scene,” said Noel Massie, United Parcel Service Inc.‘s Southern California regional president. Still, UPS has hired about 600 workers this year in the region, bringing its workforce to 19,800.

Economists were encouraged that construction and manufacturing companies were increasing their hiring.

“Since the third quarter, we’ve seen a pickup in activity,” said Chad Moutray, chief economist at the National Assn. of Manufacturers trade group. “It’s pretty clear that things have started accelerating a little bit.”

The surging auto industry has helped boost factory payrolls, and U.S. exports of airplanes and other manufactured goods have increased as the economies in Europe and other foreign countries started rebounding, he said.

Even so, Moutray noted, U.S. manufacturers shed 2.3 million workers during the Great Recession and have added back just 543,000.

“There’s still a lot of work to be done over the coming years,” he said.