Business

Business news

BP Earnings Plunge 91 Percent In 4th Quarter

Feb 2, 2016

Global oil and gas price drops have shattered BP's profits.

The British energy giant said Tuesday that its fourth-quarter "underlying replacement cost profits" (or net income) dropped 91 percent. Profits fell to $196 million, compared with $2.2 billion in the year-ago quarter.

The full-year figures were somewhat less dramatic: 2015 profits amounted to $5.9 billion, down from $12.1 billion the previous year. That's a 51 percent drop.

"Full employment" is a phrase economists use to explain how the job market recovers from a recession. We'll be hearing this phrase a lot as the Labor Department releases the latest jobs data on Friday. It's expected to show that employers added even more workers in January.

But the phrase doesn't tell the full story for millions of Americans either still out of work or who are looking for something better than part-time work.

What is full employment and what does it mean?

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Editor’s Note: This story works best as an audio experience, so we urge you to take a listen.

What if you poured your energy into becoming an opera singer, but then became famous for doing the voice of a computer in a blockbuster video game?

That’s the unexpected twist in Ellen McLain’s career. She’s performed countless roles in operas in Seattle and Tacoma and acted in many Seattle theaters.

But now the thing she’s most famous for is doing the voice of GLaDOS, the sweet-sounding but passive-aggressive computer in Valve’s hit video games Portal and Portal 2.

Xerox will be splitting into two companies — one dedicated to document management, including the printing and copying technology that made Xerox's name, and another for business process outsourcing.

The split will be completed by the end of the year. The names of the two companies, as well as their leadership structures, have yet to be determined, Xerox says.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Boeing says it plans to reduce the production rate of its 777 wide-body jet, one of the company’s biggest sources of cash, to seven per month next year from the current rate of 8.3 per month.

“As a result of the rate change, we expect some impact on employment and will do our best to mitigate that by placing employees in other jobs across Boeing,” Boeing spokesman Doug Alder said in an emailed statement. “We are still studying how many roles may be impacted.”

The National Football League signed a five-year, $400 million contract with Microsoft in 2013 that gives teams custom Microsoft Surface tablets to use in training and, more importantly, on the sidelines during nationally televised games.

Coaches and players use the tablets to review plays and analyze data in real time — or at least that's how it's supposed to work.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

The city of Tacoma’s first public meeting about plans for the world’s largest methanol plant drew a much bigger crowd than expected. 

One fire marshal estimated that a thousand people showed up. Some couldn’t get into the main room or an overflow room because those were already full. 

Eugene Hoshiko / AP

Starbucks shares fell about 4 percent after the close of regular trading on Thursday after the company reported fiscal first-quarter results. 

In China, sales growth at the company's stores that have been open at least a year showed a slowdown, adding to recent concerns about the health of that country’s economy. 

Business travelers increasingly are relying on Uber and other ride-hailing services, often more than car rentals or taxis, according to new data.

Say you land at Chicago O'Hare International Airport. You've got a work meeting 20 minutes away. You might head to the rental desk to pick up a car. Or, you might call an Uber instead.

"More transactions coming through our system are in Uber than there were in all the rental car transactions," says Bob Neveu, CEO of Certify, a company that businesses use to book travel and track receipts.

SounderBruce / Flickr

Tacoma workers will be entitled to a minimum wage of $10.35 starting Feb. 1, up from the state’s current wage floor of $9.47. It’s the first of several hikes that will gradually phase in a $12 minimum wage approved by voters in November.  

IAM District 751

A group of Democratic lawmakers in the Washington House of Representatives is trying again to link Boeing’s tax break to the number of jobs the company keeps in the state. This time, they’ve won support from two Republicans: Rep. Cary Condotta, who represents the Wenatchee area, and Rep. Richard DeBolt from Chehalis.

Port of Tacoma

A Chinese-backed group wants to build what they say would be the world’s biggest methanol plant at the Port of Tacoma, raising lots of concerns among nearby residents, who will have a chance to weigh in on the project at a scoping meeting this Thursday. 

Emil Sjöblom / University of Washington

In developing and third-world countries, moving money around digitally can be very complicated and risky. Computer science professors and students at the University of Washington are trying to make that task easier and safer.

Univision Communications Inc., the parent company to the nation's leading Spanish-language broadcast channel, has acquired a controlling stake in the satirical news site The Onion, NPR has learned.

The agreement between two seemingly disparate media outfits was described to NPR by a person with direct involvement in the negotiations. A second person who was briefed on the deal by Univision executives also confirmed its broad strokes. The amount of money involved in the deal was not disclosed. NPR has also obtained a memo from the CEO of The Onion announcing the deal to staffers.

Hundreds of thousands of people drive for Uber in the U.S. The ride-hailing company has had high-profile fights in courts and city halls over the status of these drivers: Are they employees or contractors? Can they unionize?

A fight that's gotten far less attention — one that may affect drivers far more — is the competition between Uber and its main rival, Lyft.

Competition for drivers is so great that, about a year ago, Uber sent covert operatives into Lyft cars — to recruit.

Isabella Dure-Biondi was one of these covert operatives.

From McDonald's to Costco, Big Food has been declaring a shift to buying only cage-free eggs.

This day is starting out really nasty if you happen to be an oil driller — or a baby boomer who would like to retire with a nest egg.

Through the night and into the morning, the price of oil has been falling. You can now buy a barrel for less than $30. (Remember, it was nearly $115 as recently as June 2014.) The market for oil has been thrown into disarray because of worries about possible declining Chinese demand and surging Iranian supplies.

That means U.S. oil producers will continue to see their profits plunge and industry layoffs worsen.

Zillow

If you’re a homeowner in the Seattle area, you might be interested to hear that Zillow is forecasting another jump in property values this year, driven in part because many tech workers are opting to live in and around Seattle instead of the San Francisco Bay Area. 

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Leaders of the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA), the union representing Boeing engineers and other technical workers, have reached a tentative agreement with the aerospace giant for a six-year extension of the current contract, both sides announced Wednesday.

Al-Jazeera told its staff on Wednesday that it was shutting down its American network in April.

Financed by the ruling family of Qatar, Al-Jazeera America was launched in the summer of 2013 promising thoughtful, serious news coverage.

Lego says it is changing its guidelines for the purchase of large amounts of its iconic toy bricks, a policy that had generated a social media firestorm when used to block sales to Chinese artist Ai Weiwei.

The company said in a statement that it will no longer ask people who want to buy the bricks in bulk what they're using them for:

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Property owners are cashing in right now as Seattle’s real estate market booms.

But that’s not the main goal of Jan Johnson, owner of Seattle’s historic Panama Hotel, as she searches for someone to buy the place. She wants to ensure the hotel is preserved as a reminder of the city’s once bustling Japantown, part of what's known as the Chinatown International District, and the sad history of Japanese-American families sent to camps during World War II.

SounderBruce / Flickr

Contract talks are getting back underway between the University of Washington and a new union representing doctors in residency programs at hospitals including Harborview Medical Center, UW Medical Center and Seattle Children's. The residents say it’s a struggle to get by on what they’re paid, given the cost of living in Seattle and their student loan debt.

When I was a child growing up in India, once every year my father took my two siblings, my mother and me to the village where he grew up. He thought it was important for us kids to see rural living and to learn how basic life could be. He often said, "City folks are lucky to have cooking gas cylinders. You'll see how food is cooked in the village."

Andrew T. Sawyer / AP Photo

Farmworker advocacy groups are urging the state to investigate questionable responses by farmers to a survey about how much they pay their workers. 

If you hail a ride using the on-demand app Lyft, that car could one day be self-driving.

On Monday, Lyft announced a new partnership with General Motors, which is pumping half a billion dollars into the software startup and joining the board. One of the things they're doing is planning to build an autonomous fleet.

They haven't released a specific timeline on when, though in the future, when you call the on-demand car service, the vehicle likely won't have a human driver.

A.F. Litt / Flickr

Janitors who worked in Fred Meyer stores in Washington state are suing the company and its subcontractors in a class-action lawsuit alleging that they were forced to work off the clock. 

This is a case that involves layers of contractors and a big corporation at the top – Fred Meyer, which is owned by Kroger.

The janitors were employed by a subcontractor, MH Janitorial, which has since gone out of business. They say MH failed to pay them for work they did after their shift was supposed to end.

China's stock markets stumbled badly on the first day of trading in 2016, with a 7 percent plunge forcing a market shutdown. The trigger mechanism that cut the day short in Shanghai and Shenzhen was created in response to last year's market crash, which brought trillions in losses.

Why does a tai chi business not have to pay sales tax, and an aikido school does? This a question the martial arts community is asking the State Department of Revenue. Starting in 2016 a new law will require all martial arts facilities to charge sales tax.

Right before the holidays, Congress approved tax credits for clean energy. It was just a tiny part of a $1.8 trillion spending bill, but solar and wind power companies say it's a Christmas present that will catapult their industry forward. Analysts are predicting a big boost in wind and solar projects over the next few years.

Pages