Biz Bits

Wal-Mart pays for how it handled chemicals

 

SAN DIEGO --- Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has agreed to pay $27.6 million to settle allegations that it improperly handled and dumped hazardous waste at stores across California in a case that led to changes in the retailer's practices nationwide, prosecutors said Monday.

The settlement ends a five-year investigation involving more than 20 prosecutors and 32 environmental groups. They alleged that each of the company's 236 stores and distribution centers across California, including Sam's Club warehouse stores, were in violation of environmental laws and regulations, said San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis.

Wal-Mart was accused of improperly disposing of pesticide, fertilizer, paint, aerosols and other chemicals.

Mixed reports show rebound will be slow

WASHINGTON --- Factories are churning out more goods. Consumers are spending. Government aid is fueling construction activity. But stagnant pay and weak hiring will likely restrain the economic rebound in coming months.

That cautionary picture emerged from a series of economic reports Monday.

Consumers stepped up their spending in March by the largest amount in five months. Yet the increase was financed out of savings. Incomes rose only slightly.

The construction industry remains a concern, too. Industry spending rose 0.2 percent in March, the first increase in five months, Commerce said. But all the strength came from government activity -- much of it related to temporary stimulus money that's expected to run out soon. By contrast, construction by the private sector fell to the lowest level in a decade.

But factory production in April grew at the fastest pace in nearly six years, according to the Institute for Supply Management.

GMC Financial posts profit, gets new name

NEW YORK --- GMAC Financial Services on Monday posted its first quarterly profit in more than a year and announced plans to rename itself Ally Financial Inc., as the consumer lender aims to put a failed foray into the mortgage business behind it.

The Detroit-based company reported first-quarter earnings of $162 million compared with a year-ago loss of $675 million as its mortgage unit swung to a pretax profit and its core automotive business posted its fifth straight profitable quarter. Revenue rose 7 percent to $1.86 billion.

The switch to the Ally Financial name, which takes effect Monday, reflects the recent strength of Ally Bank, its consumer banking unit. Ally Bank has been a major focus of GMAC's marketing efforts and has benefited from rising deposits thanks in part to the relatively high interest rates it offers.

 

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