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story.lead_photo.caption This March, 11, 2009, file photo, shows the Neiman Marcus store in Dallas. Neiman Marcus Group is getting serious about the fast growing secondhand luxury business. The Dallas-based luxury retailer said Wednesday, April 17, 2019, that it has acquired a minority stake in Fashionphile LLC, an online seller of preowned accessories. (AP Photo/Tom Pennington, File)

Third Tunica County casino set to close

ROBINSONVILLE, Miss. -- A casino company announced Tuesday that it's closing a gambling hall in Mississippi's Tunica County, the third casino to close in the area since 2014 in the face of increasing competition and declining revenue.

Penn National Gaming announced that it would close the Resorts Casino Tunica on June 30, leaving six casinos in a county that boomed on gambling revenue in the 1990s.

The company, based in Wyomissing, Pa., said that it has nearly 200 employees at Resorts and will try to place them at one of Penn National's other two casinos in Tunica County. The company bought Resorts and what is now 1st Jackpot in March 2017, paying $44 million for two distressed casinos that had been taken over by their lenders. The company also operates Hollywood Casino Tunica, which is next door to Resorts.

Tunica County boomed when gambling was legalized in 1992, becoming the only gambling destination for hundreds of miles. But employment at casinos peaked at 13,000 jobs in 2001, falling to fewer than 5,000 now, and revenue has been falling since 2006.

-- The Associated Press

High output sinks natural-gas futures

Natural-gas futures tumbled to the lowest in almost three years as U.S. shale output swamps the market during mild spring weather, soothing concern about a potential supply crunch next winter.

A seasonal lull in heating and cooling demand, coupled with surging production, is accelerating gains in stockpiles of the fuel in underground caverns and aquifers. While inventories are more than 30 percent below normal, they're poised to refill quickly: Analysts predict that stored supplies probably rose by more than quadruple the average last week.

Though gas demand has climbed as new U.S. export terminals send super-chilled cargoes to buyers as far away as Japan, soaring production continues to sway the market. In the Permian Basin of west Texas and New Mexico, where the fuel is pumped as a byproduct of oil exploration, gas supply has overwhelmed the capacity of pipelines to carry it out of the region, pushing prices below zero on some days.

Gas for May delivery fell 5.5 cents to $2.517 per 1 million British thermal unit on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the lowest settlement since June 8, 2016. Prices are down 14 percent this year.

-- Bloomberg News

Penney fills exec spots for comeback try

J.C. Penney said Wednesday that it has filled more positions in its executive ranks to help tackle its ongoing turnaround efforts.

Steve Whaley becomes senior vice president, principal accounting officer and controller. Whaley will report to Bill Wafford, who was hired in March to be Penney's chief financial officer.

Whaley joins Plano, Texas-based Penney from Walmart, where he worked for 11 years. He will be over Penney's finance and support operations in Salt Lake City and Bangalore, India.

Laurene Gandolfo takes over as senior vice president for home product design and development. More than 20 years of her career was specifically in the home business at both Macy's and Bloomingdale's.

Trish Adams comes to Penney after retiring recently from Target to be a strategic adviser and work with the company's chief transformation officer Truett Horne, who was hired in January. Adams will evaluate and create plans to simplify and improve the effectiveness and profitability of Penney's pricing and promotion strategies, the company said.

-- Tribune News Service

Writers Guild suing top talent agencies

Hollywood's writers are taking their battle against agents to court.

The Writers Guild of America said Wednesday that it has filed a lawsuit in California Superior Court against William Morris Endeavor, Creative Artists Agency, International Creative Management and United Talent Agency. The suit alleged a breach of fiduciary duty under state law and unfair competition practices under federal law.

The news provided another surreal turn in what has already been a strange time, with some of the most prominent creative people in the world confronting, firing and now suing the people who helped establish their careers.

The dispute stems from the writers' objection to packaging fees, the practice by which agencies are paid by studios for getting clients together on a project. The writers are also seeking to force agencies to divest of nascent production divisions, which they say represent a conflict of interest. The agencies maintain that these structures benefit all parties, including writers.

The writers and agents have been without an agreement governing their relationship since one expired last weekend.

-- The Washington Post

March new-car sales off 4% in Europe

MILAN -- New car sales in Europe have fallen for the seventh-straight month, dropping by 4 percent in March.

The European Automobile Manufacturers' Association, based in Brussels, said 1.72 million new cars were sold last month, down from 1.79 million in March 2018. Italy led all five top markets in decline, with a double-digit drop.

The Volkswagen group gained market share, capturing 23.2 percent of sales with a mild 1-percent drop. Shares of its luxury brands were mixed, with Audi up by 1.7 percent and Porsche plummeting 19 percent.

French carmaker Renault was alone among mass automakers in increasing sales, up 2 percent, on the strength of its lower-priced Dacia marquee.

German maker of luxury cars, Daimler, saw sales slip by 13.3 percent. BMW sales were down by 2.2 percent.

-- The Associated Press

Neiman Marcus buys Fashionphile stake

NEW YORK -- Neiman Marcus Group is getting serious about the fast-growing secondhand luxury business.

The Dallas-based luxury retailer said Wednesday that it has acquired a minority stake in Fashionphile LLC, an online seller of used accessories.

As part of the deal, Neiman Marcus and Fashionphile, founded in 1999, will be introducing new ways for both buyers and sellers to more easily participate in the preowned market. That means at select Neiman Marcus stores, customers will be able to not only receive an immediate quote for their items from Fashionphile but also payments they can spend immediately on new luxury items at the store. Neiman Marcus says it will not be selling any preowned merchandise at its stores.

The move comes as Neiman Marcus is trying to reinvent itself as its affluent shoppers spend more online.

-- The Associated Press

Business on 04/18/2019

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