July 6, 2013

Briefcase

Chrysler recalling minivans for defect in side air bags

Chrysler is recalling 282,000 minivans from the 2013 model year because the side air bags can deploy on the wrong side in a crash.

Side air bags are supposed to deploy on the side of the vehicle that's involved in a crash. Chrysler said a software problem is causing its air bags to deploy on the opposing side of the vehicle.

Affected models are the Dodge Grand Caravan, Chrysler Town and Country and Ram Cargo Van. The campaign involves 224,000 vehicles in the U.S.; 49,300 in Canada; 2,900 in Mexico and 5,300 elsewhere.

Whole Foods recalls cheese linked to at least one death

Whole Foods Market Inc. is recalling Crave Brothers Les Freres cheese in response to an outbreak of a bacterial infection that has sickened people in several states and killed at least one.

Whole Foods says the cheese may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. It was sold in 30 states and the District of Columbia under names including Les Freres and Crave Brothers Les Freres. The company is posting signs in its stores to inform customers about the recall.

Public health officials in Illinois say one resident became sick after eating contaminated cheese in May. Minnesota officials say one elderly person died and another was hospitalized after illnesses linked to the cheese.

New Zealand coal company must pay miners' survivors

A bankrupt New Zealand coal company was ordered Friday to pay the families of 29 miners killed in a 2010 methane explosion, though they may receive just a fraction of the compensation.

A judge ruled the miners' families and two survivors of the explosion should get $86,000 individually, an amount in doubt because Pike River Coal went into bankruptcy soon after the explosion.

The company was convicted in April of nine health and safety violations. A government investigation found it had ignored 21 warnings that methane gas had accumulated to explosive levels in the South Island mine.

DOMA ruling's effect unclear on benefit plans in 37 states

The Supreme Court's landmark ruling on same-sex marriage has private employers around the country scrambling to make sure their employee benefit plans comply with the law.

The impact of the decision striking down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act is clear in the 13 states and the District of Columbia where gay marriage is currently legal or soon will be: Same-sex married couples must be treated the same as other spouses under federal laws governing tax, health care, pensions and other federal benefits.

But employee benefit experts say the effect of the ruling remains murky in the other 37 states. The court left intact another provision of the federal anti-gay marriage law that allows one state not to recognize a same-sex marriage performed elsewhere.

FCC approves Softbank bid for Sprint Nextel Corp.

The Federal Communications Commission says it approved Softbank Corp.'s bid for Sprint Nextel Corp.

The FCC gave thumbs up to the $21.6 billion deal on Friday, completing the U.S. government's review of the Japanese company's investment in Sprint. Softbank will have a 78 percent stake in Sprint, the third largest U.S. wireless carrier.

The FCC also approved Sprint's plan to buy the half of wireless operator Clearwire that it does not already own.

Jobs report, Egyptian crisis sends crude oil 2% higher

The price of oil marched higher Friday with a positive report on U.S. hiring and ongoing concerns about the crisis in Egypt.

Benchmark crude for August delivery rose $1.98, or 2 percent, to finish at $103.22 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. That's the highest closing price since May 2, 2012.

S&P downgrades Nokia after buyout of Siemens

Ratings agency Standard and Poor's on Friday downgraded Nokia Corp.'s credit rating further into junk territory, citing the deal this week to buy out Siemens from its Nokia Siemens Networks joint venture for $2.21 billion.

The agency lowered the Finland-based company's long-term corporate credit rating to "B+" from "BB-," warning that its strong balance sheet will weaken as a result of the acquisition.

S&P also affirmed Nokia's "B" short-term corporate credit rating, with a stable outlook, and cut the issue rating on Nokia's senior unsecured debt to "B+" from "BB-."

Fitch Ratings downgrades Egypt's credit after coup

Fitch Ratings is downgrading Egypt's credit after the country's military overthrew the civilian government, saying the political situation could get worse and further damage the national economy.

The firm said Egypt's political situation could become even more unstable, hurting its economy and its creditworthiness and making it harder for the country to make reforms that are needed to secure International Monetary Fund assistance.

On Wednesday the Egyptian military ousted President Mohammed Morsi and suspended the Islamist-drafted constitution.

Sweeping changes in China may include private banks

China on Friday promised sweeping changes to its state-run banking system -- including allowing the creation of private lenders -- to support its credit-starved entrepreneurs and curb what regulators worry are growing financial risks.

Analysts including the World Bank said an overhaul of a Chinese banking system that lends little to the private sector is urgently needed to keep economic growth strong. Communist leaders who took power last year have promised to support entrepreneurs who generate new jobs and wealth in China but have yet to make significant changes.

Friday's statement outlined an array of areas where Beijing is promising action but gave no details.

- From news service reports

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