Business news in brief

Nucor’s suit against rival mill dismissed

A lawsuit seeking to stop construction of a steel mill in Osceola has been dismissed. U.S. District Judge Leon Holmes on Wednesday dismissed the lawsuit by Nucor Steel against Big River Steel. Holmes ruled that the citizen lawsuit under the federal Clean Air Act is not authorized and that his court has no jurisdiction. Nucor claimed Big River Steel has violated the Clean Air Act. Big River Steel countered that the mill is still under construction and not operational, so it can’t be emitting anything to violate the act. Nucor operates a steel mill in Blytheville, about 20 miles from where Big River Steel broke ground in September on its $1.3 billion mill. Nucor is also appealing approval of an air permit granted for Big River’s mill.

— The Associated Press

Photo archivist faces another lawsuit

Christopher Cathey of Sherwood sued sports photo archivist John Rogers of North Little Rock on Tuesday, claiming he is owed almost $434,000 in loans made to Rogers including interest.

The loans were made to help Rogers buy sports cards, buy a percentage of The Oklahoman newspaper's photo archives and "to keep the doors open," the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit was filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court. At least 13 lawsuits have been filed against Rogers since February last year.

In addition, Cathey said he personally guaranteed some loans made by Rogers, the lawsuit said. Cathey partially guaranteed a $14 million loan First Arkansas Bank & Trust made to Rogers, leaving Cathey open to a potential $2.2 million loss.

Cathey and Rogers have known each other since childhood, the lawsuit said.

-- David Smith

Outlets at LR on I-30 will open in October

Outlets at Little Rock, featuring 75 outlet stores on Interstate 30 in Little Rock's Otter Creek area, will open in October, not this summer as previously announced, said Michael Barelli, vice president of New England Development of Boston.

A grand opening is planned for Oct. 16 with a full weekend of festivities. Outlet stores including Children's Place, China Max, Dress Barn, Express, Gymboree and Kay Jewelers have been reported so far. Some of those already have locations in the area. New England Development would not confirm any of the stores named.

"We have a strong list of retailers on board," said Barelli. "We know Arkansans are eager to start shopping, and the stores will be open in time for fall fashions and the start of holiday shopping."

Outlets at Little Rock will be located at Gateway Town Center, 10 miles southwest of downtown Little Rock at I-30 and Interstate 430, next to the only Bass Pro Shops store in Arkansas.

-- Cyd King

Electronic driver logs pushed for trucks

The Alliance for Driver Safety and Security wants lawmakers to accelerate the implementation of mandated electronic logging devices in commercial trucks.

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced last week its publication date for a final rule has been pushed back from late September to early November.

Lane Kidd, managing director of the national trucking alliance, said the electronic logging devices "will stop the endless debate over truck driver hours and service rules."

The alliance was formed in 2011 with Arkansas-based carriers Maverick USA, J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. and Fikes Truck Line among its members.

The alliance also supports raising the minimum liability insurance level for trucking companies, hair tests to meet federal truck driver drug-testing regulations, and truck speed limiters. It also plans to push for keeping safety ratings for trucking companies in public view.

Kidd and Steve Williams, chairman of the Trucking Alliance and chief executive officer of Maverick USA, met recently with acting Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator Scott Darling and U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., to share the alliance's 2015 objectives.

-- Robbie Neiswanger

T.J. Maxx owner to pay at least $9 hourly

NEW YORK -- The owner of T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and Home Goods stores said Wednesday that it will raise pay for its U.S. workers to at least $9 per hour.

The announcement by TJX Cos. comes a week after Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said it would increase wages for its employees and is a sign that more competitors may follow suit. Low-paying retailers are having a harder time retaining workers as the job market improves.

"This pay initiative is an important part of our strategies to continue attracting and retaining the best talent," Chief Executive Officer Carol Meyrowitz said in a statement.

TJX spokesman Doreen Thompson declined to say what workers currently earn. A recent Credit Suisse report estimates TJX's current hourly pay at $8.24. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour.

TJX said hourly workers will start to receive the pay increase in June. In 2016, the company plans to pay all associates who have worked at its stores for more than six months at least $10 per hour.

Based in Framingham, Mass., TJX operates 3,395 stores, including six of its outdoor goods chain Sierra Trading Post.

The company has 191,000 employees.

-- The Associated Press

Target loses $2.6 billion in 4th quarter

NEW YORK -- Target Corp. on Wednesday delivered a cautious profit outlook for the first quarter and reported a loss in its fourth quarter, dragged down by costs to end its money-losing foray in Canada.

But the discount retailer recorded stronger-than-expected sales during the Christmas period as shoppers bought more clothing and other items.

The results, which included the second consecutive increase in a key sales measure in a year, come a little more than a month after the retailer announced it was giving up on Canada and focusing on revving up its U.S. business.

The closing was the first major move by CEO Brian Cornell, who took over last August and who is tasked with reclaiming the retailer's image as a purveyor of cheap chic fashions.

Target lost $2.6 billion, or $4.14 per share, in the three months ended Jan. 31. That compares with a profit of $520 million, or 82 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding costs to exit Canada and other one-time items, Target's adjusted earnings were $1.50 per share. Analysts polled by FactSet expected $1.46 per share. Target is now liquidating all 133 stores after entering Canada just two years ago.

Revenue rose 4.1 percent to $21.7 billion. Revenue at stores opened at least a year rose 3.8 percent. The measure is considered a key indicator of a retailer's health.

Shares rose 20 cents to close at $77.15.

-- The Associated Press

Yellen: Cheaper oil slows inflation pace

Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen told lawmakers Wednesday that the impact of lower oil prices means the U.S. inflation rate will decline before it eventually rises toward the central bank's 2 percent target.

"Declining oil prices have had a very major influence" on inflation, she said in testimony before the House Financial Services Committee.

The Fed chairman reiterated that she expects the drag on inflation "will be transitory."

"Especially with an improving labor market we expect inflation in the medium term to move to our 2 percent target," she said.

Yellen said in December she and colleagues will want to be "reasonably confident" that inflation will move back to their target as they begin raising interest rates.

The Fed's preferred gauge of inflation, based on personal consumption expenditures, hasn't touched 2 percent since April 2012, and rose to just 0.7 percent in December. A version of the index that strips out volatile food and energy prices was 1.3 percent in December.

-- Bloomberg News

Business on 02/26/2015

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