World finance :: Business, Economic and Trading

Dollar General beats sales estimates, to hike store managers pay

U.S. discount retailer Dollar General Corp (DG. N) reported better-than-expected quarterly sales and said it would raise wages for store managers, replicating similar moves by larger retailers such as Wal-Mart (WMT. N). Dollar General said on Thursday it would hike compensation and provide more training for its store managers, a move that it hopes will improve service quality in stores over time but will pressure earnings this year. Wal-Mart in 2015 had said it would spend $2.7 billion on wages, benefits and training, a move that it said had improved service quality and boosted sales last year. Other retailers have also hiked manager salaries in the past year in response to a tight labor market and also to comply with a rule change that extended mandatory overtime pay to more workers.

Dollar General said it had earmarked about $70 million in 2017, mainly for the pay hikes. The company said sales rose 13.7 percent to $6.01 billion in the fourth quarter ended Feb. 3, helped by higher average spending at its stores, even as store traffic declined slightly.

Analysts had expected sales of $5.97 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Dollar General and larger rival Dollar Tree Inc (DLTR. O) face stiff competition from Wal-Mart and Target Corp (TGT. N), which have been discounting aggressively, even amid falling grocery prices, to boost store traffic.

Wall Street to open higher on Fed's 'gradual' rate-hike outlook U.S. stocks looked set to open higher on Thursday, building on a day-earlier rally after the Federal Reserve raised interest rates for the first time this year and indicated it was in no hurry to increase the pace of tightening.

Britain asks regulator to investigate Sky takeover by Murdoch's Fox LONDON The British government said on Thursday it would refer Rupert Murdoch's planned takeover of European pay-TV group Sky to regulators to decide if the deal was in the public interest.

Yahoo cyber indictment shows Kremlin, hackers working hand-in-hand (Story corrects first name of U.S. Senator Warner to Mark, not John in 15th paragraph of March 15th item.)

Teslas Musk discusses energy proposal with South Australian government

Tesla Inc boss Elon Musk spoke with the premier of South Australia on Saturday after the tech entrepreneur offered to install $25 million of battery storage within 100 days to prevent recurring blackouts that have disrupted the state. The proposal follows a string of power outages, including a blackout that left industry crippled for up to two weeks and stoked fears of more outages across the national electricity market due to tight supplies."Just spoke with Premier of South Australia (Jay Weatherill). Very impressed. Govt is clearly committed to a smart, quick solution," Musk wrote on Twitter on Saturday. Weatherill said in a statement on Saturday the conversation about the battery proposal was "positive".

Musk made the offer on Twitter on Friday, saying if the work was not completed in 100 days it would be free. His proposal made headlines in Australia, which is in the midst of a heated debate about the national electricity market and energy security.

Musk proposed the battery storage fix in response to a comment on social media by Mike Cannon-Brookes, the co-founder of Australian software maker Atlassian Corp. Cannon-Brookes said he would be willing to line up funding and political support if Tesla could supply batteries that would solve South Australia's problems.

Musk responded by tweeting: "Tesla will get the system installed and working 100 days from contract signature or it is free. That serious enough for you?"He quoted a price of $250 per kilowatt hour for 100 megawatt hour systems, which would imply a price of $25 million for the battery packs.