Last updated: February 20. 2014 11:43PM - 634 Views

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Scranton group sells

Baltimore paper

The Baltimore Sun Media Group announced Thursday that it is buying the alternative weekly City Paper for an undisclosed price from Scranton-based Times-Shamrock Communications. The transaction is set to close in March, the company said.

City Paper’s sale will complete Times-Shamrock Communication’s plan to divest its alternative weeklies. In December, Times Shamrock sold its four other weeklies — the Detroit Metro Times, Orlando Weekly, Cleveland Scene and San Antonio Current — to Ohio-based Euclid Media Group.

Times-Shamrock has operated the City Paper for about 25 years. The company owns several local newspapers including The Scranton Times-Tribune, The Citizens’ Voice, The Republican-Herald in Pottsville and The Standard-Speaker in Hazleton. It’s still shopping several of its other newspapers including those in Towanda, Shamokin, the Virgin Islands and Petersburg, Va.

Leading indicators

gain moderately

A measure of the U.S. economy’s health posted a moderate gain in January, suggesting that the economy will continue to expand in the first half of this year.

The Conference Board reported Thursday that its index of leading indicators rose 0.3 percent last month following no change in December and a solid 0.9 percent increase in November. The index is designed to signal economic conditions over the next three to six months.

Conference Board economist Ken Goldstein said the January advance reflects an economy that is expanding moderately. But he said growth was held back over the past two months by severe winter weather in many parts of the country.

The advance in January was aided by fewer applications for unemployment benefits and strength in financial indicators.

Wal-Mart’s 4th

quarter disappoints

Much like its low-income shoppers, Wal-Mart can’t seem to catch a break as the U.S. economy rebounds.

The world’s largest retailer on Thursday posted a 21 percent drop in fourth quarter profit and gave a subdued forecast for the current year as it continues to be weighed down by a number of factors.

Winter has been marked by severe weather and slow spending over the holidays. Growing competition from dollar stores and grocers also has chipped away sales. And the latest headache? Wal-Mart said the Nov. 1 expiration of a temporary boost in food stamps is hurting its shoppers’ ability to spend.

The issues Wal-Mart Stores Inc. faces are big challenges for Doug McMillon, who took over as CEO on Feb. 1. In a pre-recorded call on Thursday, McMillon promised Wal-Mart will sharpen its focus on everyday low prices at U.S. stores and further push that strategy abroad.

Wal-Mart also said it will speed up growth plans for its Neighborhood Markets and Wal-Mart Express smaller stores that cater to shoppers looking for more convenience with fresh produce, meat and household and beauty products.

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