Business Highlights

AP News
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Posted: Nov 02, 2015 5:53 PM

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E. coli in Northwest marks Chipotle's 3rd outbreak this year

SEATTLE (AP) — Chipotle closed 43 of its Pacific Northwest locations after the chain's third foodborne illness this year sickened about two dozen people, prompting renewed scrutiny of a company that touts its use of fresh ingredients and farm-sourced fare.

Cases of the bacterial illness were traced to six of the casual Mexican food restaurants, but the company voluntarily closed down all of its locations in Washington and the Portland, Oregon, area as a precaution as an investigation continues.

Chipotle has faced other recent foodborne outbreaks: Salmonella linked to tomatoes sickened dozens of people in Minnesota beginning in August, and in California, norovirus sickened nearly 100 customers and employees at a Chipotle restaurant in Simi Valley in mid-August.

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VW says it will cooperate amid latest cheating allegation

WASHINGTON (AP) — Volkswagen cheated a second time on emissions tests, programming about 10,000 cars with larger diesel engines to emit fewer pollutants during tests than in real-world driving, according to the U.S. government.

The latest charges follow VW's admission in September that it rigged emissions tests for four-cylinder diesel engines on 11 million cars worldwide.

In a notice of violation sent to VW, EPA officials said the automaker "knew or should have known" that by employing the software, the cars were not in compliance with Clean Air Act emission standards. The company says no software was installed in the six-cylinder diesel engines that would change the emissions values "in any impermissible way."

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Dow Jones industrial average turns positive for the year

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks posted solid gains Monday, adding to last month's big advances and pushing the Dow Jones industrial average into positive territory for 2015.

Health care stocks were among the winners as drugmakers Pfizer and AbbVie climbed, while energy stocks rose sharply in a late-day rally.

Earnings season is nearly through, and the stock market has recovered significantly as companies have reported somewhat better results than initially expected.

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Visa to buy Visa Europe in deal that could exceed $23B

NEW YORK (AP) — Payment processing giant Visa announced plans Monday to buy its sister company, Visa Europe, in a deal that could be worth more than $23 billion and would consolidate all of Visa's operations worldwide.

The deal would make the world's largest payment processing company even larger. The two companies have more than 2.9 billion cards issued on its combined network, processing roughly 88 billion individual transactions a year.

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Federal jury to settle bitter battle between sweeteners

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Big Sugar and Big Corn face off in court this week in a bitter, multibillion-dollar battle of sweeteners that boils down to a mix of science, semantics and marketing.

Jurors in the case between sugar processors and corn manufacturers will take up one of nutrition's most vexing debates and confront a choice common among some consumers: sugar or high fructose corn syrup?

The trial starting Tuesday in federal court grew out of efforts by the Corn Refiners Association to rebrand its high fructose corn syrup as "corn sugar" to reverse damaging publicity that associated it with diabetes and obesity.

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California settles debt collection suit with JPMorgan Chase

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — One of the nation's largest banks will pay $100 million to settle a California lawsuit alleging it used illegal methods to collect debts from more than 125,000 credit card holders, the state's attorney general announced Monday.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. will pay an estimated $10 million to consumers in California as part of a previously announced $50 million national agreement, and will pay another $50 million in penalties to the state to settle a 2013 lawsuit.

It is agreeing to change practices that the state says violated California law and led the company to file thousands of debt collection lawsuits between 2008 and 2011. They include collecting incorrect amounts, selling bad credit card debt, and running what Attorney General Kamala Harris' office calls a debt collection mill that "robo-signed" court documents.

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ConAgra selling private label unit to TreeHouse Foods

ConAgra Foods Inc. is selling most of its private label operations to TreeHouse Foods Inc. for about $2.7 billion as part its plan to focus more on name brands including Chef Boyardee and Slim Jim.

The deal is expected to close in the first quarter. TreeHouse Foods, which already focuses on store-brand food products, said it expects the newly acquired operations to boost its annual sales to nearly $7 billion.

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Bristol-Myers buying heart drug maker Cardioxyl for $2.1B

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. is acquiring a private biotech company developing a medicine for one of the most common cause of hospitalizations in senior citizens, in a deal that could be worth up to $2.1 billion.

The company said Monday that it could close its deal to acquire Cardioxyl Pharmaceuticals Inc. by year's end.

Cardioxyl develops drugs that release a molecule called nitroxyl, which improves the function of heart muscle and blood vessels. Its lead drug, CXL-1427, is in mid-stage patient testing as an intravenous treatment for acute heart failure.

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Gateway Inc. co-founder Mike Hammond dies at age 53

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) — Mike Hammond, who co-founded computer maker Gateway in an Iowa farmhouse in 1985 and helped turn it into an American success story by shipping PCs straight to customers in boxes with a spotted-cow design, has died at age 53.

Hammond died Thursday at his home in Sioux City, Iowa, funeral director Korey Robinson with the Meyer Brothers Funeral Home said Monday.

Hammond started Gateway Inc. with brothers Ted and Norm Waitt, selling what became among the most popular computers on the market. The success was short-lived, though, in the fast-changing computer industry.

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US factories grow at slowest pace in 2½ years; hiring falls

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. factory activity grew last month at its slowest pace since 2013 as manufacturers pared their stockpiles and cut jobs.

The Institute for Supply Management said Monday that its index of factory activity slipped to 50.1 in October from 50.2 in September. The figures barely signal growth, which is any reading above 50.

U.S. manufacturers have been squeezed this year as a strong dollar and weak economies in China and other key foreign markets have cut into exports. A high dollar makes U.S. goods pricier overseas while lowering prices for imports that compete with American products.

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US construction spending rises 0.6 percent in September

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. construction spending rose 0.6 percent in September to the highest level since March 2008, pushed up by a surge in apartment building.

The Commerce Department said Monday that spending on construction rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1.09 trillion. Construction of apartments and condominiums jumped 4.9 percent in September from August, while construction of single-family homes rose 1.3 percent. Overall, private residential construction rose to the highest level since January 2008.

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The Dow Jones industrial average rose 165.22 points, or 0.9 percent, to 17,828.76. The Standard & Poor's 500 index added 24.69 points, or 1.2 percent, to 2,104.05. The Nasdaq composite index rose 73.40 points, or 1.5 percent, to 5,127.15.

U.S. crude oil fell 45 cents to close at $46.14 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, slid 77 cents to $48.79 a barrel in London. In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline edged up 0.4 cent to $1.375 a gallon in New York, heating oil fell a penny to $1.507 a gallon and natural gas fell 6.5 cents to $2.256 per 1,000 cubic feet.