Wells Fargo deposits spiked; also: Best Buy to hire fewer seasonal blue-shirts, and UnitedHealth profits hurt by medical costs, investment losses

Wells Fargo experienced a $14.5 billion spike in deposits during the three months ending Sept. 30. That, despite lowering the rate of interest it pays on retail accounts. The Wall Street Journal says the deposit jump appears to be part of a “flight to quality” by bank customers, who are withdrawing money from the banks most associated with the financial crisis. If that’s the case, we should see a similar deposit gain at U.S. Bank when it releases its quarterly results on Tuesday.

Aspiring blue-shirts: Get your applications in fast. Best Buy plans to hire fewer seasonal employees this winter. Last year, the Richfield-based retailer hired 26,000 seasonal employees to help out between November and January. This year, the company’s hiring range is 16,000 to 20,000, the company said. Best Buy attributes some of the reduction to all-time-high employee retention. But retailers across the board are also bracing for a bleak holiday shopping season.

More Best Buy: The company is “open” testing an update on its yellow price tag logo. The new look features the store name in a softer, classier font, followed by a small, subtle outline of a price tag. The design is incorporated into the retailer’s Mall of America store. The goal is to gauge reaction in a live environment, marketing VP Barry Judge writes on his blog. (More commentary at AdFreak, JasonNessa, Brand New.)

UnitedHealth Group’s third-quarter profits were weighed down by rising medical costs and sinking investment income. The Minnetonka-based HMO reported a 28 percent decline in profits (PDF), compared with last year. That might sound disappointing, but it’s in line with what analysts expected. The good news: The company says its balance sheet is strong and that during the same period it saw membership growth in almost every category.

Do you have an inside scoop or news tip about a Minnesota company? Spotted something interesting in your RSS reader? Drop Business Agenda a note at dhaugen [at] minnpost [dot] com.

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