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Briefs

CEOs show uncertainty in economy

U.S. chief executives are less optimistic about the economy, according to a survey released Wednesday. The survey also indicates that disagreements in Washington on the 2014 budget and raising the debt ceiling are making them cautious about hiring.

The Business Roundtable said its quarterly index, which measures the economic outlook of CEOs from the largest U.S. companies, fell to 79.1 in the third quarter from 84.3 in the previous quarter. Any reading above 50 suggests expansion.

The group said 50 percent of the CEOs surveyed said the stalemate in Washington is having a negative effect on their plans for hiring additional employees over the next six months.

Of the CEOs surveyed, 32 percent said they expect to increase hiring in the next six months. That’s unchanged from the survey in the previous quarter. Forty-four percent said there will be no change in their hiring plans, up from 42 percent in the second quarter.

Report: BlackBerry could cut workforce

Struggling smartphone maker BlackBerry could cut its workforce by up to 40 percent by the end of the year, Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

Citing unidentified people familiar with the matter, the newspaper said the Canadian company plans to make the cuts through layoffs that will occur in all its departments, potentially affecting several thousand people.

When contacted by The Associated Press later Wednesday, BlackBerry released a statement saying it wouldn’t comment on rumors and speculation.

The report comes as BlackBerry continues to lose money amid tough competition from Apple’s iPhone and phones running Android, such as Samsung’s Galaxy. The company’s board is looking at strategic alternatives, including a possible sale of the company.

Waterloo, Ontario-based BlackBerry had 12,700 employees the last time it reported an employment figure in March.

Sharp plans share sale to lower loss forecast

Japan’s embattled Sharp Corp. is forecasting a narrower loss and plans to raise almost $1.7 billion from a share sale and new business alliances.

The maker of Aquos televisions and LCD panels said Wednesday that higher sales of large LCDs for TVs and solar cells are behind its less pessimistic outlook.

The company is forecasting a net loss of $100 million for the six months ending Sept. 30, which is half of the loss forecast in April.

Sharp is planning to raise $1.5 billion from a public share sale. It will raise a further $177 million by selling shares to auto parts maker Denso, building materials group Lixil and electric tools maker Makita.

Beanies creator won’t fight tax evasion case

The creator of Beanie Babies stuffed animals has agreed to pay a $53 million penalty after being accused of federal tax evasion for failing to report income he had earned in a secret offshore bank account.

As prosecutors in Chicago announced the charge against H. Ty Warner, his defense lawyer said the 69-year-old billionaire intended to plead guilty and pay the penalty.

Warner, who lives in suburban Chicago and is the sole owner of Ty Inc., still faces the prospect of time behind bars. A conviction on a federal tax evasion charge carries a maximum five-year prison sentence.

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