AP source: BofA agrees to pay $16B-$17B in US deal
WASHINGTON (AP) — A person familiar with the matter says Bank of America has agreed to pay between $16 billion and $17 billion to settle an investigation into its sale of mortgage-backed securities before the financial crisis.
The deal with the bank would be the largest Justice Department settlement by far arising from the economic meltdown. It follows earlier agreements with Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase & Co.
The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal wasn’t yet final, said Wednesday some details still need to be worked out and it was possible the agreement could fall apart.
Report: Russia to block US agricultural imports
MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday hit back hard against countries that have imposed sanctions over the Ukraine crisis, ordering trade cuts that an official said would include a ban on all imports of agricultural products from the United States.
The full list of products to be banned or limited for up to one year is to be published Thursday. But the state news agency RIA Novosti quoted Alexei Alexeenko of Russia’s plant and veterinary oversight service as saying “from the USA, all products that are produced there and brought to Russia will be prohibited.”
Alexeenko also was quoted as saying he thinks all fruits and vegetables from European Union countries will also be banned.
Walgreen turns down inversion to cut tax bill
Walgreen, the nation’s biggest drugstore chain, said Wednesday that it would no longer consider a so-called inversion, which has become popular among large, multi-national health care companies looking to cut U.S. taxes.
The company said it will instead combine with the Swiss health and beauty retailer Alliance Boots to form a holding company that’s based in the U.S.
Walgreen Co. said in a statement that it was mindful of the ongoing public reaction to a potential inversion and its unique role as an iconic American retailer.
Sprint names new CEO after dropping T-Mobile bid
NEW YORK (AP) — Sprint’s new owner is replacing its longtime CEO with a Bolivian billionaire and entrepreneur after dropping its bid for rival wireless carrier T-Mobile US.
Marcelo Claure, the CEO of Miami-based cellphone distributor Brightstar, will replace Dan Hesse on Monday, Sprint Corp. said Wednesday.
Claure, 43, had been CEO of Brightstar Corp., which is part of Softbank Corp. of Japan. Softbank bought 70 per cent of Sprint last year.
Sprint shares fell 19 per cent Wednesday after its chairman and incoming CEO talked about adopting aggressive tactics to compete with AT&T and Verizon, likely including price cuts.
Chrysler profit jumps; Fiat hit by merger worry
DETROIT (AP) — Chrysler remained on the comeback trail with a 22 per cent second-quarter profit increase, but U.S. investors may not get a chance to buy shares of the company if a planned merger with Fiat gets scuttled.
Shareholders of Fiat, the majority owner of Chrysler, overwhelmingly voted last week to merge the two companies. But on Wednesday, Fiat shares fell 5.5 per cent in Italy due to concerns that the merger could be derailed by investor flight.
The merger would move the new company’s tax headquarters to London and list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange. It could be completed by mid-October.
Mondelez says price hikes scared off customers
DEERFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Mondelez said price increases scared off some customers in its second quarter, and the company trimmed its sales forecast for the year.
The maker of Oreo, Cadbury and Trident on Wednesday reported lower sales that fell short of Wall Street expectations. Cost-cutting helped push up profit by 3.5 per cent, however. Like many other packaged food companies, Mondelez has been slashing costs wherever it can to offset weak sales.
In a conference call, CEO Irene Rosenfeld said Mondelez raised prices to make up for rising costs for ingredients such as cocoa and dairy products. The company had expected its pricing actions to hurt sales, she said, but didn’t expect such a big impact.
Pfizer to pay $35M to settle drug marketing case
WASHINGTON (AP) — Pfizer will pay $35 million to resolve allegations by 42 states that its subsidiary, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, illegally marketed an organ transplant drug for unapproved uses.
The states’ attorneys general said Wednesday that Wyeth, which Pfizer bought in 2009, trained sales representatives to encourage doctors to prescribe Rapamune for uses other than preventing rejection of transplanted kidneys.
Rapamune was approved in 1999 for use in kidney transplant patients. Promoting drugs for uses not cleared by the Food and Drug Administration is illegal.
Pandora cuts first-ever direct deal with artists
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Internet radio leader Pandora has come to its first-ever direct licensing deal with artists, a wide-ranging agreement with independent label group Merlin that both said would mean higher payments to artists and more play for them on Pandora stations.
That means Merlin-represented artists like Arcade Fire, Bad Religion and Lenny Kravitz could get more rotations as their representatives will be able to lobby Pandora to place their songs earlier in playlists where they fit.
Artists will also get access to Pandora data for the first time, enabling them to make informed decisions about where to tour, who to tour with, what their concert set list should be and what songs they might release next. They will also have tools to directly communicate with fans on Pandora.
Target publicly endorses same-sex marriage
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Target Corp. is adding its name to a legal defence of gay marriage, joining other large companies that are taking a stand, just four years after the retailer came under criticism for supporting a strident opponent of same-sex unions.
Target said it has signed a court brief backing marriage equality in a pending court case and publicly declared its support of gay marriage, a move similar to those taken by Starbucks, Intel and Apple.
Anheuser-Busch to import Montejo from Mexico
The subsidiary of Belgium-based Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s largest beer maker, said Wednesday that starting next month it will sell Montejo lager in bars, restaurants and grocery stores in California, Texas, Arizona and New Mexico.
The move comes as both the Hispanic population and the market for Hispanic foods continues to grow in the U.S.
Nearly 55 per cent of all imported lagers in the U.S. are from Mexico, with notable brands including Corona, Modelo, Tecate and Dos Equis, according to market researcher Euromonitor International, which valued the Mexican import market at $1.84 billion in 2012.
Report faults Chevron in deadly gas well fire
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Environmental investigators faulted Chevron Inc. site managers in a report released Wednesday on a natural gas well fire in western Pennsylvania that killed one worker.
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection report said that a contract worker with no oil field experience worked on the well, contrary to company policy, and that the February fire may have been caused by human error when a lock screw was ejected from the well, allowing high-pressure methane gas to escape.
The report also said Chevron’s well site managers did not always provide enough oversight to contractors at the site in Dunkard, about 50 miles south of Pittsburgh.
By The Associated Press=
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 13.87 points, or 0.1 per cent, to close at 16,443.34. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose a fraction to end at 1,920.24 The Nasdaq composite rose 2.22 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 4,355.05.
Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell 46 cents to $96.92 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude fell 2 cents to close at $104.59 a barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline rose 2.4 cents to $2.74 a gallon. Heating oil gained 2.9 cents to $2.88 a gallon. Natural gas added 3.6 cents to $3.93 per 1,000 cubic feet.