Minimum wage in New York goes up next weekThe new year is bringing new wages to New York. The minimum wage is going up across the state on Dec. 31. The highest wages will be in New York City, where fast-food workers and employees of businesses with 11 or more people will see their minimum hourly pay go up to $15 from the current $13. That will have New York City joining Seattle and San Francisco as the major American cities to have hit that benchmark. For minimum-wage workers, the bump is a cause for celebration. But some business owners are stressed as they try to figure out how to adjust to the higher labor costs. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


Gap will close its Fifth Avenue store next month

Gap Inc. plans to close one of its major New York City stores next month. The clothing retailer, which said in November that it might close hundreds of underperforming Gap stores, will close a three-story location at 680 Fifth Ave. on Jan. 20, the company confirmed in an e-mail. Chief executive Art Peck also said last month that the value of some flagship locations was being scrutinized. Gap, which also operates the Old Navy and Banana Republic chains, has seen sales slide at its namesake brand amid broader struggles for some brick-and-mortar clothing retailers. It’s hoping that shuttering weak stores will boost the bottom line. The Fifth Avenue store is just south of Trump Tower, in an area with high rents that is frequented by tourists — particularly during the holiday season, because of its proximity to Rockefeller Center. Gap’s shares, which rose along with most US stocks on Wednesday, have lost about a quarter of their value in 2018. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


Sean Hannity’s ratings fall since the midterms

The drumbeat of bad news for President Trump hasn’t been good for his most prominent backer in the media. While Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity will end 2018 as cable news’ most popular personality, he’s been slumping in the ratings since the midterm elections. His show averaged 2.76 million viewers after the election through Dec. 17, down 19 percent compared to the previous month, the Nielsen company said. Among the 25- to 54-year-old demographic that’s most coveted by advertisers, he’s down 30 percent. Competitors Rachel Maddow on MSNBC and Chris Cuomo on CNN are up in each measurement. Maddow has been beating Hannity outright in December, a turnaround from October. During that month, when Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation drama dominated the news, Hannity’s audience routinely exceeded Maddow’s by about a million people each night, according to Nielsen. — ASSOCIATED PRESS



Tunisian journalists union may strike following photographer’s self-immolation

Tunisia’s journalists union announced a campaign of protests, possibly leading to a general strike, after a photographer set himself ablaze in a reminder of the spark that ignited the Arab Spring uprisings in late 2010. Abdel-Razaq Zarqi set himself on fire Monday in the restive Kasserine region, in an act of protest that triggered clashes between security forces and demonstrators, local media reported. The impoverished area has been the site of frequent militant attacks, often targeting security forces, and anti-government demonstrations. Tunisia had been hailed as the Arab Spring uprising’s most significant success story. While democracy has flourished in the nation, it has been roiled by political infighting, repeated labor strikes, and militant attacks that have battered the vital tourism sector. That has hindered successive governments from reviving the economy, attracting foreign investment, or making a significant dent in the core issues that led to the self-immolation of a fruit vendor that ignited the Arab Spring revolts eight years ago. — BLOOMBERG NEWS



Exxon looking at its worst year since 1981

Things haven’t been this bad for the world’s biggest oil stock since Ronald Reagan became president. But brace yourself, 2019 may not be much better. Exxon Mobil Corp., down 22 percent for the year, is headed for its worst annual performance since 1981, when the United States was in recession and a 20-year crude glut was just beginning. The decline comes as Exxon pursues one of the largest restructurings in its modern history, a seven-year, $200 billion push for oil in South America and natural gas in Mozambique and Papua New Guinea. — BLOOMBERG NEWS



World’s billionaires hit hard by stock sell-offs

The richest people on Earth lost $511 billion this year after record first-half gains were obliterated by a succession of bruising market sell-offs. Global trade tensions and worries about a US recession dragged markets lower at year’s end, leaving the 500 people on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index with a combined net worth of $4.7 trillion as of Friday’s close. It’s only the second annual decline for the daily wealth index since its 2012 debut, and represents a sharp about-turn from the start of the year, when bullish investors helped propel the fortunes of the richest to a record $5.6 trillion. Even Jeff Bezos, who recorded the biggest gain for 2018, wasn’t spared the volatility. His fortune peaked at $168 billion in September, a $69 billion gain. It later tumbled $53 billion to leave him with $115 billion at year’s end. The Amazon.com founder had a better year than Mark Zuckerberg, who recorded the biggest loss since January, dropping $23 billion as Facebook Inc. careened from crisis to crisis. Overall, the 173 US billionaires on the list — the largest cohort — lost 5.9 percent from their fortunes to leave them with $1.9 trillion. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


Nissan director freed from jail

Greg Kelly, the Nissan executive who was arrested along with former chairman Carlos Ghosn, has been freed from jail, with a court granting him bail after he spent more than a month in a Tokyo detention center. Kelly walked out of a detention center late Tuesday night in Tokyo after a local court set his bail at $635,000, according to the prosecutors’ office. He was arrested on Nov. 19 and was indicted for allegedly helping the car titan underreport his compensation by tens of millions of dollars. Both Ghosn and Kelly have denied the charges through their lawyers. — BLOOMBERG NEWS



Mayor of New Orleans wants bigger piece of hotel room tax

New Orleans’ mayor says the city deserves to get a bigger percentage of the $166 million collected each year from a 15 percent surcharge on hotel rooms. Mayor LaToya Cantrell says the city of Mardi Gras fame receives barely more than 1 in 10 of each dollar collected from the taxes and fees visitors pay. The Southern tourist destination is grappling with longstanding infrastructure challenges, including potholes, drainage problems and sporadic drinking water issues. Winning a bigger slice of the pie could be a tall political order for the new mayor — much of the money is earmarked for the Superdome and other state-owned institutions. — ASSOCIATED PRESS