SC business notebook, Feb 14

February 14, 2014 

Stock listings unavailable

Stock listings will not run in The State’s Business pages Friday. Early deadlines due to the inclement weather did not allow time for the newspaper staff to include listings compiled of stocks of local interest. The stock listings will return when the weather and deadlines return to normal.

Banking network to unveil new name

First Financial Holdings, Inc., the parent company of Columbia-based SCBT, on Monday will unveil a new name for the company’s three-state banking network. The company also operates as NCBT in North Carolina and First Federal in both states. In addition, the rapidly growing community bank operates Community Bank & Trust and The Savannah Bank in Georgia. The company is rebranding as it grows its network in the multi-state area.

Bridgestone guilty in conspiracy to fix prices

The Justice Department says Bridgestone Corp. has agreed to plead guilty and pay a $425 million criminal fine in a conspiracy to fix prices of automotive rubber parts. According to a one-count felony charge, Bridgestone participated in allocating sales, rigging bids and raising prices of automotive anti-vibration rubber parts sold to car manufacturers in the U.S. and elsewhere. The Justice Department says Tokyo-based Bridgestone has agreed to cooperate with the government’s ongoing auto parts investigations. The plea agreement is subject to court approval. Bridgestone sold the parts to Toyota Motor Corp., Nissan Motor Corp., Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd., Suzuki Motor Corp. and Isuzu Motors Ltd.

Facebook adding gender options

You don’t have to be just male or female on Facebook anymore. The social media giant is adding a customizable option with about 50 different terms people can use to identify their gender as well as three preferred pronoun choices: him, her or them. Facebook said the changes cover the company’s 159 million monthly users in the U.S. and are aimed at giving people more choices in how they describe themselves, such as androgynous, bi-gender, intersex or transsexual.

Weather hurt January retail sales

Cold weather caused U.S. retail sales to drop in January. Americans spent less on autos and clothing and at restaurants during a brutally cold month. The Commerce Department says retail sales fell 0.4 percent last month. That marked the second straight decline after a 0.1 percent drop in December. The drop suggests that the momentum from consumer spending at the end of 2013 has tailed off this winter. Auto sales fell 2.1 percent. Excluding volatile spending on autos, gas and building supplies, retail sales were flat compared with December.

Kristy Eppley Rupon and The Associated Press contributed.

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