S&P boosts outlook for government’s long-term debt
WASHINGTON — Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services upgraded its outlook Monday for the U.S. government’s long-term debt. S&P cited the government’s strengthened finances, a recovering U.S. economy and some easing of Washington’s political gridlock.
The credit rating service raised its outlook to “Stable” from “Negative,” which means it’s less likely to downgrade U.S. debt in the near future.
S&P also reaffirmed the government’s “AA+” long-term and “A-1+” short-term unsolicited sovereign credit ratings. The long-term rating remains a notch below S&P’s top grade.
McDonald’s says cheap eats helped lift sales
NEW YORK — Cheap eats and new menu items helped McDonald’s boost a key sales figure in May, bouncing back from a decline the previous month.
The world’s biggest hamburger chain said Monday that global sales rose 2.6 percent at restaurants open at least a year, helped by an extra Friday in the month. In the U.S., the figure rose 2.4 percent, as the Dollar Menu and its new chicken wraps and egg white breakfast sandwiches lifted results.
In Europe, the figure rose 2 percent, as declines in Germany and France were offset by strong results in the United Kingdom and Russia.
Microsoft hypes next-gen Xbox One games
LOS ANGELES — Microsoft has its head in the cloud with Xbox One.
The company focused on how cloud computing will make games for its next-generation Xbox One console more immersive during its Monday presentation at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, the gaming industry’s annual trade show. Microsoft announced last week that the successor to the Xbox 360 must be connected to the Internet every 24 hours to operate, and the system would ideally always be online.
The upcoming console’s cloud computing capabilities were demonstrated by fleshing out dense environments in third-person open-world games like the zombie-fighting sequel “Dead Rising 3” and cartoony shooter “Sunset Overdrive.” The racing simulator “Forza MotorSport 5” introduced a feature called “drivatar,” which mimics players’ driving styles and allows their “drivatars” to play for them offline.
Greek economy suffers new blows
ATHENS, Greece — Greece’s troubled privatization program suffered a blow Monday after the Russian energy giant Gazprom withdrew its interest in buying the natural gas firm DEPA, citing fears over the Greek company’s future finances.
The news, announced as a delegation from Greece’s international creditors returned to Athens for a new round of inspections, hammered stocks in Greece, with the main index closing 4.7 percent lower.
After the deadline expired Monday, DEPA failed to attract any bids while sister company DESFA, the gas network operator, received a single bid from Azerbaijan’s state oil company SOCAR, Deputy Development Minister Asimakis Papageorgiou said.
“As far as DEPA is concerned, it will be re-examined and retendered at a future time — when conditions will be much more favorable for greater participation,” he said.
The head of Greece’s privatization fund, Stelios Stavridis, said the new tender would be held “as soon as possible,” but gave no further details. Stavridis said Gazprom’s decision was a disappointment “but not a disaster.”
Gazprom spokesman Sergey Kupriyanov said in a statement that DEPA is burdened by unpaid bills from customers and awaits restructuring related to the spinoff of DESFA. He added that potential investors were not guaranteed freedom from state interference.