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    Arkansas Business: Stocks start November on positive note

    8:33 AM, Nov 4, 2013   |    comments
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    LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Arkansas Business) -- Stocks ended Friday on a strong note as investors reacted to an expansion in U.S. manufacturing last month.

    The improvement came during what could have been a difficult month for the U.S. economy with a partial government shutdown that lasted 16 days.

    The Institute for Supply Management reporting that its manufacturing index increased to 56.4, the highest level since April 2011.

    That also was better than what economists were expecting.

    Wal-Mart gets jump start on holiday deals

    Wal-Mart is getting its holiday shopping strategy underway early.

    The world's largest retailer on Friday unveiled seven big holiday deals on items like TVs and tablets, deals that were originally reserved for the day after Thanksgiving and so-called Cyber Monday.

    Shoppers were able to purchase the items online. At the same time, the company's website pushing another 300 holiday deals.

    Last year, Wal-Mart offered about 100 holiday deals online right after Halloween, but the offerings were focused on home decor.

    The move comes as Wal-Mart, like its competitors, have seen customers scale back purchases heading into the holiday shopping season, which accounts for anywhere from 20 percent to 40 percent of retailers' annual revenue.

    Joel Anderson, president and CEO of Wal-Mart.com, cited the tough economy in explaining Wal-Mart's decision and said its wants to help its customers.

    Wal-Mart declined to say whether it would be repeating the discounts during the Thanksgiving weekend.

    Allens, Inc. claims $279.2 million in bankruptcy

    We now know just how much debt bankrupt food processor Allens Inc. of Siloam Springs is facing.

    According to information buried in its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filings made last week, Allens owes creditors a total of $279.9 million.

    The family-owned company, which filed bankruptcy last Monday, has about $178 million in secured debt and another $101.9 million in debt to unsecured creditors.

    Also in the filing, the company tracing its troubles to a decision to jump into the frozen vegetable business with the 2006 purchase of Birds Eye Foods Inc.

    It was a move that, quote, resulted in significant operating losses. Allens sold most of its frozen food operations in March 2012.

    Allens ranked No. 23 on Arkansas Business' most recent list of the state's largest private companies.

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