Dark days ahead for BlackBerry

NEW YORK — The stock market closed sharply lower Friday on worries about Washington’s finances. Investors are concerned about a brewing budget fight. To keep the government running, Congress must pass a short-term spending bill before the fiscal year starts Oct. 1.

The Dow Jones industrial average slid 185.46 to close at 15,451.09 Friday. The sell-off erased the big rally from earlier this week, when the Federal Reserve left its economic stimulus intact. The S&P 500 fell about 12 to close at 1,709.91 The Nasdaq composite dropped about 14 to 3,774.73.

TORONTO — BlackBerry said Friday it will lay off 4,500 employees, or 40 percent of its workforce, as it reports a nearly $1 billion second-quarter loss a week earlier than expected.

The company said Friday it expects to post the staggering loss, including a big write down of the value of its inventory due to increasing competition. Revenue of $1.6 billion is only about half of what analysts expected, according to FactSet.

BlackBerry said it wants to slash operating costs in half by early 2015 so cutting its global headcount to 7,000 employees is necessary.

ATLANTA — Home Depot is eliminating the limited medical insurance is has offered to its many part-time employees. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that the change means those 20,000 workers will either seek coverage from new public insurance marketplaces that open Oct. 1 or face a penalty.

The retailer said its decision is in response to the federal Affordable Care Act.

Home Depot joins a growing list of corporations that have cut back on or shifted their employee health insurance offerings. Some have cited potential savings and others are pointing to better employee benefits as reasons for their decision.

Home Depot has three stores in the Charleston region.

Kroger CEO David Dillon will retire from that post when the new year begins but will stay on for another year as chairman. His retirement is effective on Jan. 1, when W. Rodney McMullen will become CEO.

The nation’s largest traditional supermarket operator said Dillon, 62, will continue as chairman through Dec. 31, 2014. He’s been CEO since 2003. McMullen, 53, has been president and chief operating officer since 2008.

Kroger is buying Harris Teeter, which has seven supermarkets in the Charleston region and is building two more. Harris Teeter also is buying seven stores from Charleston-based Piggly Wiggly.

Target plans to hire about 70,000 seasonal workers for the holiday shopping season, down about 20 percent from a year ago.

The move to hire 18,000 fewer temporary holiday workers comes as the chain saw that its own permanent employees wanted to get first dibs on working extra hours.

Target says it also wants to better respond to the peaks and valleys of customer traffic.

DETROIT — BMW is recalling more than 134,000 528i, 535i, 550i and M5 cars in the U.S. from the 2008 through 2010 model years. The reason is the rear turn-signal, tail, brake and backup lights can fail because increased electrical resistance can damage the connections.

BMW dealers will replace part of the connections at no cost to owners. Customers will be notified in October.

Staff and wire reports