Land O’Lakes division to run former DeCoster egg farms

A division of Minnesota-based Land O’Lakes Inc. is taking over operations at three Maine egg farms formerly run by DeCoster Egg Farms.

Moark LLC of Fontana, Calif., said Tuesday it has agreed to lease Quality Egg Farm of New England in Turner, Dorothy Egg Farm in Winthrop and Mountain Hollow Farms in Leeds for 10 years. After the 10-year lease period, Moark will have the option to buy the facilities.

Financial terms of the arrangement were not disclosed.

Moark is owned by Land O’Lakes Inc., one of the nation’s largest agricultural cooperatives. Land O’Lakes says Moark markets and processes about 2.4 billion eggs a year.

Maine Agriculture Commissioner Walt Whitcomb says Maine will continue to be the nation’s largest producer of brown eggs in the nation.


Berlusconi’s vow to resign helps to drive up stocks

Stocks turned higher Tuesday once investors got the news they had been hoping for: Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi promised to resign once a new budget is passed. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 101.79 points to close at 12,170.18.

Italy became a key focus for investors this week after doubts emerged that the country would go through with a tough package of austerity measures. Many investors saw Berlusconi as an obstacle to sweeping economic reforms that would be needed to help Italy cut its debt load and avoid sinking into a debt crisis.

The yield on the 10-year Italian government bond spiked close to 7 percent Tuesday, a sign that markets are questioning the country’s ability to pay its debt. Unlike Greece, Portugal or Ireland — all of which received financial lifelines — Italy has too much debt to be rescued by its European neighbors.

The S&P 500 rose 14.80 to 1,275.92. The Nasdaq composite rose 32.24 to 2,727.49.

Gas prices not yet following jump in cost of crude oil

Oil prices are soaring again, but motorists don’t need to worry — yet.

The price of crude has jumped 22 percent since the beginning of October and is nearing $100 a barrel. For most of the summer, oil prices drifted lower on fears that the U.S. was headed toward another recession. But those concerns have started to wane as the economy stabilizes. Political tensions in the Middle East, which produces 29 percent of the world’s oil, also have helped drive up crude prices.

So far, the jump hasn’t translated into a surge in prices at gas pumps. Gasoline has crept up less than 1 percent, or 3.1 cents, to $3.41 per gallon, over the same period.

That’s partly because people drive less once vacations wind down after Labor Day. This year, Americans have also bought less gasoline because of the weaker economy. That lackluster demand has kept prices in check, even as oil soars.

“Enjoy it while you can,” said Ben Brockwell, pricing director at the Oil Price Information Service. Brockwell expects gasoline prices — which peaked at $3.98 per barrel on May 5 — to flirt with $4 per gallon early next year.