Talking Points

TALKING POINTS

Whole Foods shareholders say yes to Amazon deal

SUPERMARKETS

Whole Foods shareholders, regulators, approve deal with Amazon

Whole Foods shareholders and federal regulators approved Amazon’s $13.7 billion acquisition of the organic grocer, a deal that could bring big changes to the supermarket industry and how people order groceries online. By buying Whole Foods, Amazon is taking a bold step into brick-and-mortar, with more than 460 stores and potentially very lucrative data about how shoppers behave offline. Two moves forward came Wednesday. Whole Foods shareholders gave their blessing to a union that its CEO had called ‘‘love at first sight.’’ And the Federal Trade Commission said in a brief statement that it had looked into competition concerns and would not block the deal. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

RIDE HAILING

Uber’s performance improves amid scandals

Even as Uber Technologies Inc.’s investors mounted a revolt against the then-chief executive officer over a string of self-inflicted scandals, the ride-hailing company’s financial performance continued to improve in the second quarter of the year, based on financial results provided by the company. Still, Uber’s losses, which totaled $645 million, remained significant. Uber generated $1.75 billion in adjusted net revenue in the second quarter of this year, up 17 percent from the prior quarter. The company’s gross bookings, the total money taken in fares, reached $8.7 billion, also up 17 percent from the prior quarter. Travis Kalanick, Uber’s co-founder, resigned as CEO on June 20, only several days before the end of the second quarter. The results show that Uber continued to make progress on cutting its losses while growing its business, even as the company responded to a relentless cascade of scandals. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

REAL ESTATE

Sale of new homes plunge in July

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Sales of new homes plummeted 9.4 percent in July, the sharpest one-month drop in nearly a year. But the decline followed strong sales in previous months, and sales so far this year are outpacing last year’s. The Commerce Department said Wednesday that new-home sales fell to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 571,000 in July, down from 630,000 in June. Last month’s figure was the weakest since December. Still, sales in the first seven months of the year are 9.2 percent higher than in the same period last year. More buyers are turning to newly built houses as the supply of existing homes for sale has fallen steadily. The housing market overall is mostly healthy, but sales have stumbled this summer as a supply crunch has elevated average home prices nationwide. The rising prices have made homes too expensive for some would-be buyers, even as healthy hiring has lowered the unemployment rate to a 16-year low of 4.3 percent. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

SHIPPING

German company charged in Maine with keeping inaccurate pollution records

A Germany-based shipping company is charged in Maine with failing to keep accurate pollution control records and falsifying others aboard a cargo ship. The US attorney’s office says the nine-count indictment stems from the falsification of records in 2016 and 2017 to cover up overboard discharges of oily mixtures and wastewater from the Liberian-flagged cargo vessel, M/V Marguerita. The indictment alleges that at least eight times, the ship entered US waters and ports with a false and misleading oil record book available for inspection by the US Coast Guard. Indicted are management company MST Mineralien Schiffarht Spedition Und Transport and ship owner Reederei MS ‘‘Marguerita.’’ It wasn’t immediately known if they had a lawyer. The company has transported clay slurry used in paper mills to the ports of Searsport and Portland. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

COLLEGE

Detroit Pistons owner and Michigan foundation give $2m for Flint scholarships

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Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores (left) and a Michigan utility’s foundation are each committing $1 million to help fund college scholarships in Flint in the wake of the city’s water crisis. The $2 million in combined pledges announced Wednesday aim to create a ‘‘Flint Promise,’’ starting with students graduating next spring. It’s not clear how much has been raised, though Governor Rick Snyder’s administration previously had a $5 million goal. Gores, a Flint native, says ‘‘every student who works hard deserves a chance to earn a college degree.’’ Consumers Energy president and CEO Patti Poppe calls the foundation’s commitment a ‘‘down payment on a bright future’’ for Flint. Many scholarship details are still to be determined. Legislation to make Flint eligible for state funding to help finance the program has languished. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

MEDIA

Wall Street Journal editor criticizes staff over Trump coverage

Gerard Baker, the editor-in-chief of The Wall Street Journal, has faced unease and frustration in his newsroom over his stewardship of the newspaper’s coverage of President Trump, which some journalists there say has lacked toughness and verve. Some staff members expressed similar concerns Wednesday after Baker, in a series of blunt late-night e-mails, criticized his staff over their coverage of Trump’s Tuesday rally in Phoenix, describing their reporting as overly opinionated. “Sorry. This is commentary dressed up as news reporting,” Baker wrote at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday to a group of Journal reporters and editors, in response to a draft of the rally article that was intended for the newspaper’s final edition. He added in a follow-up, “Could we please just stick to reporting what he said rather than packaging it in exegesis and selective criticism?” A copy of Baker’s e-mails was reviewed by The New York Times. Several phrases about Trump that appeared in the draft of the article reviewed by Baker were not included in the final version published on The Journal’s website. The draft, in its lead paragraph, described the Charlottesville, Va., protests as “reshaping” Trump’s presidency. That mention was removed. The draft also described Trump’s Phoenix speech as “an off-script return to campaign form,” in which the president “pivoted away from remarks a day earlier in which he had solemnly called for unity.” That language does not appear in the article’s final version. Contacted about the e-mails Wednesday, a Wall Street Journal spokeswoman wrote in a statement: “The Wall Street Journal has a clear separation between news and opinion. As always, the key priority is to focus reporting on facts and avoid opinion seeping into news coverage.” — NEW YORK TIMES

HOME IMPROVEMENT

Lowe’s has weak performance, unlike rival
Home Depot

Lowe’s second-quarter profit got a boost from the sales of an Australian joint venture, but its performance was weak by most measures in a vibrant housing market, and its profit outlook for the year was well below the expectations of industry analysts. For the period ended Aug. 4, Lowe’s Cos. earned $1.42 billion, or $1.68 per share. A year ago the Mooresville, N.C., company earned $1.17 billion, or $1.31 per share. The current quarter included a $96 million gain related to the sale of its interest in the Australian joint venture. Earnings, adjusted for one-time gains, were $1.57 per share. That’s below the $1.62 per share that analysts polled by Zacks Investment Research predicted. Revenue rose to $19.5 billion from $18.26 billion. It fell short of the $19.52 billion in revenue analysts surveyed by Zacks expected. Sales at stores open at least a year increased 4.5 percent, one of the few areas where it did a little better than expected, according to FactSet. Comparable-store sales are a key gauge of a retailer’s health because the remove the volatility of stores recently opened or closed. Lowe’s doesn’t appear to be catching the same housing market tail wind of rival Home Depot Inc. Last week, it dazzled investors with its strongest quarterly sales ever and the richest profit in its history. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

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