FDA adds rules to ensure safety of infant formula

The Food and Drug Administration is laying out new requirements to ensure the safety of infant formula.

The rules announced Thursday are designed to make sure manufacturers test their formulas for salmonella and other pathogens before they are distributed.

They would also require formula companies to include specific nutrients, including proteins, fats and vitamins.

Most formula manufacturers follow these practices already, but the rules will allow the FDA to better enforce the requirements.

New Google device aims to ease videoconferencing

Google is introducing a videoconferencing tool designed to make it easier and less expensive to hold face-to-face business meetings even if the participants are scattered in different locations.

The device, called Chromebox For Meetings, went on sale for $999 Thursday in the U.S. and will be available soon in other countries.

The $999 price includes technology support for the first year. Chromebox For Meetings is being sold by Dell Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co. and AsusTek Computer Inc.

Google Inc. said the box contains everything needed to set up a videoconferencing system that can connect people in up to 15 locations.

Productivity growth in U.S. makes slight gain for year

U.S. productivity growth slowed in the fourth quarter while labor costs kept falling. For the year, productivity turned in another weak gain.

Productivity grew at an annual rate of 3.2 percent in the October-December period, down slightly from a 3.6 percent growth rate in the third quarter, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

Labor costs fell at a 1.6 percent rate in the fourth quarter after an even bigger 2 percent rate of decline in the third quarter.

For the year, productivity rose a slight 0.6 percent, down from a 1.5 percent increase in 2012.

Labor costs edged up a slight 1 percent in 2013, continuing a trend of modest gains in labor costs.

Mortgage rates decline, showing pause in recovery

Average U.S. rates for fixed mortgages fell this week as the latest data continued to indicate a pause in the housing market’s recovery.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday the average rate for the 30-year loan declined to 4.23 percent from 4.32 percent last week.

The average for the 15-year loan dipped to 3.33 percent from 3.40 percent.

Mortgage rates have risen about a full percentage point since hitting record lows roughly a year ago.

– From news service reports