Business Highlights

3/25/2015 3:15 PM
By Associated Press

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HJ Heinz buys Kraft to build $28 billion food giant

NEW YORK (AP) — Some of the most familiar names in ketchup, pickles, cheese and hot dogs are set to come under the same roof after H.J. Heinz Co. announced plans Wednesday to buy Kraft and create one of the world's largest food and beverage companies.

The deal would bring together an array of longtime staples in American kitchens, including Oscar Mayer lunchmeats, Jell-O desserts, Miracle Whip spreads, Ore-Ida potatoes and Smart Ones diet foods.

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Science, patients driving rare disease drug research surge

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — The global pharmaceutical industry is pouring billions of dollars into developing treatments for rare diseases, which once drew little interest from major drugmakers but now point the way toward a new era of innovative therapies and big profits.

The investments come as researchers harness recent scientific advances, including the mapping of the human genome, sophisticated and affordable genetic tests and laboratory robots that can screen thousands of compounds per hour in search of the most potent ones.

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AP Investigation: Is the fish you buy caught by slaves?

BENJINA, Indonesia (AP) — The Burmese slaves sat on the floor and stared through the rusty bars of their locked cage, hidden on a tiny tropical island thousands of miles from home.

Just a few yards away, other workers loaded cargo ships with slave-caught seafood that clouds the supply networks of major supermarkets, restaurants and even pet stores in the United States.

Here, in the Indonesian island village of Benjina and the surrounding waters, hundreds of trapped men represent one of the most desperate links criss-crossing between companies and countries in the seafood industry. This intricate web of connections separates the fish we eat from the men who catch it, and obscures a brutal truth: Your seafood may come from slaves.

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Bosses can't get even when staffers gripe on social media

NEW YORK (AP) — Bosses can get mad when staffers vent on social media about their jobs, but they may not be able to get even.

When one of Bert Martinez' employees posted gripes about her job and the boss on Facebook last year, the publicist consulted his lawyer, who said the staffer couldn't be fired.

The employee quit a week after Martinez learned about the post.

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Facebook's Messenger app adding more ways to connect

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Facebook is trying to mold its Messenger app into a more versatile communications hub as smartphones create new ways for people to connect with friends and businesses beyond the walls of the company's ubiquitous social network.

To pull it off, Facebook Inc. is opening Messenger so outside programmers can build features tailored for the service. By the end of April, Messenger will also be adding the ability to display store receipts and shipping information to help consumers keep track of their interactions with merchants and other businesses.

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Russia's heavy drinkers turn to moonshine, cleaning products

MOSCOW (AP) — As the economic crisis sweeps through Russia, a dangerous trend is emerging in this heavy-drinking country: the rise in consumption of potentially lethal moonshine, medical alcohol or even cleaning products.

Layoffs, wage cuts and price increases are combining to worsen the problem of alcoholism, which has long been a major public health issue, by increasing the mix of dangerous products in the market. Those who can no longer afford store-bought drinks are turning to "under the counter" alternatives that can cause serious damage, even death.

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US durable goods orders stumbled in February

WASHINGTON (AP) — Orders to U.S. factories for long-lasting manufactured goods fell in February, the latest installment of disappointing data this quarter that suggests the economy has hit a soft patch.

The weaker-than-expected performance is pushing economists to downgrade their growth forecasts for the January-March period. But they blame temporary factors for the slowdown, including severe snowstorms and West Coast port disruptions, and have brighter hopes for the spring.

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Pickle butts and dog food: Chef Dan Barber shows off waste

NEW YORK (AP) — What's for dinner? How about leftover cartilage of skate with herring-head tartar sauce, cured tuna blood line aioli or a meat loaf of offal and slightly past-its-prime cow usually reserved for dogs?

Those and two dozen other dishes using scraps and usually ignored bits comprise the menu at chef Dan Barber's WastEDny, a pop-up project at one of his Blue Hill restaurants intended to shed light on the many tragedies of food waste.

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Japan uses climate cash for coal plants in India, Bangladesh

MUTTAGI, India (AP) — Despite mounting protests, Japan continues to finance the building of coal-fired power plants with money earmarked for fighting climate change, with two new projects underway in India and Bangladesh, The Associated Press has found.

The AP reported in December that Japan had counted $1 billion in loans for coal plants in Indonesia as climate finance, angering critics who say such financing should be going to clean energy like solar and wind power.

Japanese officials now say they are also counting $630 million in loans for coal plants in Kudgi, India, and Matarbari, Bangladesh, as climate finance. The Kudgi project has been marred by violent clashes between police and local farmers who fear the plant will pollute the environment.

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How investigators will determine why Germanwings jet crashed

NEW YORK (AP) — Cockpit voice recordings and, hopefully, flight data will provide the main clues to investigators trying to understand what caused Germanwings Flight 9525 to crash.

But that is just the beginning. Drawing on decades of experience with crashes around the globe, French officials will analyze thousands of pieces of wreckage, maintenance log books and other clues to determine what led the Airbus A320 to crash into a mountain, killing all 150 passengers and crew.

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Feds investigate safety of Lumber Liquidators flooring

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said Wednesday it is investigating Lumber Liquidators Chinese-made laminate flooring following a national TV broadcast raised concerns over levels of formaldehyde.

Chairman Elliot F. Kaye said Wednesday the agency is taking the issue seriously and is working to get answers for consumers, but it's too early to tell whether any flooring would be recalled.

It'll likely be months until there will be "some sense of the answers," he said, and the science "does not often provide the clarity" where consumers will know immediately whether they need to take action.

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Union vote set next month at Boeing's South Carolina plants

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — About 3,000 production workers at Boeing plants in South Carolina will decide next month whether they want representation by the Machinists union.

The union announced Tuesday that the Machinists and Boeing have agreed to the National Labor Relations Board conducting a one-day vote April 22 at five locations on the company's North Charleston campus.

The union last week petitioned for an election for production workers at the company's 787 Dreamliner assembly plant and the nearby Interiors Responsibility Center, which provides interior parts for the 787.

The vote also includes production workers at its new propulsion plant.

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UK study: women to make up 25 pct of boards by end of 2015

LONDON (AP) — The percentage of women on the boards of the country's top companies is on track to meet a target of 25 percent by the end of the year, a study tracking female achievement said Wednesday.

The report from the Cranfield International Center for Women Leaders said that 23.5 percent of boards of the companies listed on the U.K.'s main stock index, the FTSE 100, are now comprised of women, up from 20.7 percent last year. Some 263 directorships are held by women.

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Bill would create organic-type labels for nonmodified foods

WASHINGTON (AP) — Inspired by the popular "USDA organic" label, House Republicans are proposing a new government certification for foods free of genetically modified ingredients.

The idea is part of an attempt to block mandatory labeling of foods that include genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. The certification would be voluntary, says Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., who is including the idea in legislation he is introducing Wednesday.

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 292.60 points, or 1.6 percent, to 17,718.54. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 30.45 points, or 1.5 percent, to 2,061.05. The Nasdaq composite shed 118.21 points, or 2.4 percent, to 4,876.52.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose $1.70 to close at $49.21 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, rose $1.37 a barrel to close at $56.48 in London. Wholesale gasoline rose 3.7 cents to close at $1.837 a gallon. Heating oil rose 2.1 cents to close at $1.728 a gallon. Natural gas fell 6.3 cents to close at $2.723 per 1,000 cubic feet.


Can American expertise significantly boost the productivity of third-world farmers?

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3/28/2015 | Last Updated: 7:15 PM