Pacific Northwest Starbucks will remove rotating CD racks from the floors of 6,500 stores in the U.S. and Canada by September to focus...

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Retail

Starbucks will remove rotating CD racks from the floors of 6,500 stores in the U.S. and Canada by September to focus on four CDs for sale near cash registers.

“It’s an opportunity to focus on a small number of titles and tell those stories well,” said Doug Cavarocchi, a Starbucks spokesman.

It is an incremental move in Starbucks’ effort to return to its coffee core.

The company slashed its music and entertainment division this spring, ousting entertainment chief Ken Lombard and moving day-to-day management of its joint venture Hear Music record label to Concord Music Group.

Fewer than 10 Starbucks workers in Seattle and Los Angeles now choose CDs and create compilations to sell in stores. They also select store music.

Retail

Amazon sews upFabric.com deal

Amazon.com said it bought Fabric.com to expand its selection of sewing and craft products.

Fabric.com, established in 1999, sells fabrics, patterns and sewing tools, Amazon said Wednesday. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

The Seattle company said Marietta, Ga.-based Fabric.com will remain a stand-alone operation.

Real estate

Foreclosure-data firm goes national

Bellevue-based ForeclosurePoint said Wednesday it’s going national with its online foreclosure-information service, a business now dominated by two firms in California and Florida.

But while RealtyTrac and Foreclosure.com both charge for online services, ForeclosurePoint data will be free, said CEO Prakash Kondepudi.

ForeclosurePoint.com data covers 1.2 million foreclosed homes in the U.S., including address, size, foreclosure filing date, estimated value and estimated open bid.

Aerospace

Bangladesh carrier wants two 737s

Boeing said Biman Bangladesh Airlines has ordered two 737s — worth about $150 million at list prices — with purchase rights for two more.

The order announced Wednesday is in addition to the airline’s recent order for four Boeing 777s and four Boeing 787s.

Compiled from Seattle Times staff, Bloomberg News and The Associated Press

Apparel

Asia growth engine revs up Nike results

Athletic shoe and apparel company Nike said Wednesday that strong growth overseas, particularly in Asia, helped boost its fourth-quarter profit 12 percent.

The Beaverton, Ore., company reported profit rose to $490.5 million, or 98 cents a share, from nearly $438 million, or 86 cents a share, in the same quarter last year. Revenue for the quarter grew 16 percent to $5.1 billion. The results exceeded Wall Street’s projections. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial expected the company to earn 96 cents a share.

But Nike’s stock fell 4.5 percent in after-hours trading, reflecting investor concern over growth prospects in Nike’s core U.S. market, where consumer spending is being curtailed by rising food and energy prices combined with the sharp downturn in the housing market.

Nation and World

Oracle

Sales of software show strong growth

Oracle breezed past analysts’ expectations in its fiscal fourth quarter, providing another sign of the technology industry’s vitality despite the listless U.S. economy.

Perhaps most important to investors, Oracle’s software sales accelerated well beyond the 10 to 20 percent clip that management forecast three months ago. Oracle’s new software licenses in the quarter were up 27 percent.

That robust growth is significant because sales of new software provide reliable future revenue from product updates and maintenance.

Oracle shares gained 35 cents in extended trading after finishing the regular session at $22.55, up 32 cents.

J.C. Penney

Fewer new stores planned next year

J.C. Penney will further slow the pace of new department-store openings and cut capital spending next year because of the weak economy.

The company said Wednesday it plans 20 new or relocated stores next year, down from the 36 it expects to open in 2008.

Penney had once planned 50 new stores a year through 2011 but backed away from that in April, when it set the new 2008 target.

Penney and other retailers have been slumping as their middle-class customers struggle with higher gasoline prices, a slowing economy and a weak housing market.

Shares of Penney rose 80 cents, or 2.2 percent, to close at $37.68.

N.Y. Court of Appeals

Ruling backs ex-NYSE chief

New York’s top court backed a lower court in throwing out four of the state’s six claims against former New York Stock Exchange Chairman Richard Grasso’s $187.5 million compensation package, saying the attorney general at the time had exceeded his authority.

In a unanimous decision Wednesday affirming the lower court’s ruling, Court of Appeals Chief Judge Judith Kaye said the four challenges were based for the most part on just the size of the 2003 compensation package. But state law requires more: evidence Grasso knew the payment was unlawful or that he exercised bad faith in wasting NYSE assets, she wrote.

“The attorney general may not circumvent that scheme, however unreasonable that compensation may seem on its face,” Kaye wrote.

Energy Department

Oil slides on news of rising stockpiles

Oil futures fell sharply Wednesday after the Energy Department said the nation’s supplies of fuel and oil were larger than expected last week — evidence the soaring price for gas has sliced into Americans’ demand for fuel.

The Federal Reserve’s decision to hold interest rates steady had little impact on trading.

At the pump, gas prices inched lower but remain above $4 a gallon. The average price for regular in the Seattle-Bellevue-Everett slipped slightly Wednesday to $4.384 from $4.388 Tuesday, according to the AAA.

In its weekly inventory report, the Energy Information Administration said crude-oil supplies rose slightly last week. Analysts surveyed by research firm Platts expected a 1.7 million barrel drop.

Gasoline supplies fell less than expected. And inventories of distillates, which include diesel fuel and heating oil, rose much more than expected.

Demand for gas, meanwhile, fell 2.1 percent.

Tribune Co.

Historic buildings going up for sale

Tribune Co. is putting two of its most historic properties — the Los Angeles Times building and Tribune Tower in Chicago — on the block.

The company said it had sent out a request for proposals to “several of the country’s leading real-estate firms,” seeking to maximize the value of the sites, which are the headquarters of the Los Angeles Times and of Tribune, respectively.

“Both Tribune Tower and Times Mirror Square are iconic structures, deeply intertwined with the history of this company,” Tribune CEO Sam Zell said in an e-mail to workers Wednesday.

“But they are also underutilized, and as employee-owners, it’s in our best interests to maximize the value of all our assets.”

The real-estate billionaire said the company would focus on options that would allow for “some level of ongoing occupancy in both buildings” by the Times and Tribune.

He said it was “not rushing this process, and I can assure you we will not accept anything but full market value for these assets.”

Compiled from The Associated Press and Los Angeles Times