February 28, 2014

SC business notebook, Feb 28

The Associated Press contributed.

Fed chief says economic slowdown is being monitored

Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen noted Thursday that some recent economic data have pointed to weaker-than-expected gains in consumer spending and job growth. She said the Fed will be watching to see whether the slowdown proves only a temporary blip caused by severe winter weather. Yellen told the Senate Banking Committee that the Fed will be alert to upcoming data to make sure that the economy keeps strengthening. Responding to a question, Yellen repeated the Fed’s assurances that its pullback in stimulus for the economy is “not on a preset course” and could be modified if there was a “significant change” in the Fed’s outlook. The Fed is gradually reducing its monthly bond purchases, which have been intended to keep long-term loan rates low to encourage spending and growth. Yellen said that while she was open to changing the pace of the Fed’s reductions in bond purchases, “I wouldn’t want to jump to conclusions” that such a change will be needed.

Jos A. Bank rejects Men’s Wearhouse buyout offer, willing to negotiate

Jos. A. Bank is playing hard to get. The men’s clothing company rejected Men’s Wearhouse $1.78 billion sweetened acquisition offer. But it said it is willing to meet with its rival chain over a possible higher bid. Men’s Wearhouse Inc. said Monday it would offer $63.50 per share for Jos. A. Bank, up from its prior bid of $57.50 per share. It also said it could raise the bid to $65 per share, if some conditions are met. On Thursday, Jos. A. Bank said it was willing to meet with Men’s Wearhouse to discuss the higher bid.

Furniture maker seeks to track down defective trunks

Lane Home Furniture is urging people to check if they own a cedar chest it stopped making nearly 30 years ago, after two children recently suffocated to death inside the chest. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said a latch on the chest automatically locks when closed. Lane originally recalled about 12 million of the chests in 1996 after other deaths, but the chests are still being bought at second-hand stores or handed down by families. The chests were made between 1912 and 1987 and can be identified by the Lane and Virginia Maid brands inside of them. Consumers who own the chest should immediately remove the latch call and Lane at 800-327-6944 for replacement hardware.

New nutrition labels would play up calories, serving sizes

Those “Nutrition Facts” labels on nearly every food package in grocery stores are getting a new look. Calories would be in larger type, and consumers would know whether foods have added sugars under label changes proposed by the Obama administration Thursday. Serving sizes would be updated to make them more realistic. A serving of ice cream, for example, would double to a full cup, closer to what people eat. The idea isn’t that people should eat more; it’s that they should understand how many calories are in what they are actually eating.

The Associated Press contributed.

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