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USA Truck to pay former exec $630,000

USA Truck has agreed to pay former Chief Financial Officer Michael Borrows $630,000 as part of a separation agreement, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The Van Buren-based company's board approved the agreement and accepted Borrows' resignation on May 19.

The 48-year-old Borrows will receive severance pay equal to his base salary of $300,000 for 18 months, according to the filing. He'll also receive a lump sum payment of $180,000, which was the target amount for the short-term cash incentive compensation USA Truck would've awarded to Borrows under the company's 2016 bonus plan.

Borrows was hired by former CEO John Simone in September 2014.

USA Truck CEO Randy Rogers said last week that the board had started the process of hiring a chief financial officer.

-- Robbie Neiswanger

Verizon strike seen affecting jobs data

The walkout by Verizon Communications Inc. employees last month pushed the number of striking U.S. workers to the highest it has been in more than four years and could depress the May jobs numbers slated for release next week, data from the Labor Department showed.

The agency's report on Friday provides information on workers in strikes involving 1,000 or more employees who were idle for the entire reference pay period, which includes the 12th of the month. The report identified the telecommunications provider as the company involved, with 35,100 workers off the job across 10 states and the District of Columbia. The strike began on April 13.

Striking Verizon employees may be back to work next week after the company and its unions reached an agreement in principle Friday for a four-year contract.

Labor Secretary Thomas Perez said the agreement was being written Friday and will be submitted for approval from union members of Communications Workers of America and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

Both the monthly employment numbers and the average hourly earnings data can be impacted by striking workers, depending on how long and during what period the strike takes place.

About 39,000 landline workers have been on strike at Verizon, the U.S.'s largest wireless carrier, after rejecting proposals toward a new contract.

-- Bloomberg News

Oil field servicer files 2nd bankruptcy

NEW YORK -- Oil field services company Hercules Offshore has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for the second time in less than year.

In August of 2015, the company filed for bankruptcy and emerged in November after restructuring with a new $450 million credit facility. That filing showed that the Houston company had $1.3 billion in debt and $546.3 million in assets at the time.

Although there has been a slight recovery in crude prices -- the barrel price recently broke $50 for the first time this year -- there has been tremendous damage in the energy industry.

"The ongoing decline in oil prices, the consolidation of its U.S. customer base and the addition of new capacity have negatively impacted [rates] and demand for Hercules's services," company representatives said Friday.

Under the new restructuring plan, Hercules plans to maintain employee wages and benefits while paying creditors. If approved, shareholders will receive cash recoveries over time, including a payment of $12.5 million upon completion of the bankruptcy process and the sale of assets.

-- The Associated Press

Consumer optimism higher in May

WASHINGTON -- Americans turned more optimistic about the economy in May than the previous month, buoyed by low interest rates on home and car purchases.

The University of Michigan says its index of consumer sentiment rose to 94.7 in May, the highest in nearly a year. That's up from 89 in April.

A more optimistic consumer is typically more likely to spend money, which drives greater economic growth. Consumer spending accounts for roughly 70 percent of U.S. economic activity. The economy slowed to a crawl in the first three months of this year, growing just 0.8 percent at an annual rate. Yet most analysts expect growth to rebound in the April-June quarter.

Still, the survey detected some notes of caution, stemming from the presidential election, which was the biggest uncertainty cited by consumers.

-- The Associated Press

Miami's condo market suddenly soft

Miami's crop of new condo towers, built with big deposits from Latin American buyers and lots of marketing glitz, are opening with many owners heading for the exits.

A third of the units in some newly built high-rises are back on the market, though most are listed for more than their owners paid in the pre-construction phase. At the current sales pace, it would take 29 months to sell the 3,397 condominiums available in the downtown area, according to South Florida development tracker

With the U.S. dollar strong, South American investors who piled into the downtown Miami market after the real estate crash are now trying to unload their recently-built condos, adding inventory to an area where 8,000 units are under construction and nine towers were completed since the end of 2013.

Some are offering homes at a loss as demand cools. Condo purchases from January through April slid 25 percent from a year earlier, while the average price fell 6 percent on a per-square-foot basis, CraneSpotters data shows.

"The problem is that investors are no longer buying, and now they're going to be looking to sell," said Jack McCabe, a housing consultant based in Deerfield Beach, Fla. "And what buyers are going to replace those other than vulture buyers looking for deals?"

-- Bloomberg News

Business on 05/28/2016

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