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Update on the latest business

August 8, 2018


Stocks drift

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are mixed in midday trading on Wall Street, drifting between small gains and losses. Banks and technology companies are making small gains, while energy companies are falling along with a drop in the price of crude oil.

Drugstore and pharmacy benefits manager CVS rose after raising its annual profit forecast. CVS said prescriptions sales grew, although it took a loss after it wrote down the value of its Omnicare pharmacy services business by almost $4 billion.

Snapchat parent company Snap slid after reporting that it lost daily users in the latest quarter.

Papa John’s sank 4 percent after issuing a weak outlook. The company is in a public fight with its founder, who is also its largest shareholder.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury was little changed at 2.97 percent.


New York congressman indicted on insider trading charges

NEW YORK (AP) — Republican U.S. Rep. Christopher Collins of New York has been indicted on charges that he used inside information about a biotechnology company to make illicit stock trades.

The charges were announced and the indictment unsealed in New York City on Wednesday. The indictment charges Collins and two others, including the congressman’s son, with conspiracy, wire fraud and other counts.

Prosecutors say the charges relate to a scheme to gain insider information about a biotechnology company headquartered in Sydney, Australia, with offices in Auckland, New Zealand. According to the indictment, the defendants tried to get early word on the results of tests by Innate Immunotherapeutics Limited. The company developed a drug intended to treat Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis.

House Speaker Paul Ryan says he’s removing Collins from the House Energy and Commerce Committee. He’s also prodding his chamber’s ethics panel to pursue “a prompt and thorough investigation” of the lawmaker.

Ryan calls insider trading “a clear violation of the public trust.” He says he’s moving against Collins even though a court will decide whether the lawmaker is guilty of the allegations.

Collins has denied any wrongdoing.


Top executive sentenced in ‘Made in USA’ boots scheme

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The top executive of a one-time leading manufacturer of boots for the U.S. military has been sentenced in a “Made in USA” scheme.

A statement from U.S. Attorney J. Douglas Overbey says 66-year-old Vincent Lee Ferguson of Knoxville, Tennessee, was sentenced Monday to 41 months in federal prison for his role in a wire fraud conspiracy.

The statement says Overbey was president and CEO of Wellco Enterprises Inc., which sold boots to the military that were falsely advertised as being made in the U.S.

Prosecutors say Ferguson conspired with his executive team to import boots made in China. Authorities say they concealed the fraud at first by requiring the Chinese manufacturing facility to include “USA” labels and later by having factory workers tear out “Made in China” labels.

Five others charged in the scheme were sentenced in June.


Sinclair, Tribune in talks to overcome regulatory hurdles

NEW YORK (AP) — The Sinclair broadcasting company says it’s in talks with Tribune Media on how to overcome regulatory hurdles to its $3.9 billion deal to buy Tribune’s 42 TV stations.

Sinclair CEO Chris Ripley says the companies are working to find approaches that are best for the company, employees and shareholders. He made the comments Wednesday as Sinclair reported quarterly financial results.

In July, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai raised concerns about the deal and ordered a hearing.

The deadline for either party to walk away from the deal is Wednesday. Neither side appeared to be leaving the deal. If they remain in talks, they will face a lengthy hearing process with the FCC. In the past, just the prospect of that has dissuaded companies from continuing with merger plans.


Amazon? Mysterious ‘Project Rocket’ advances outside Atlanta

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. (AP) — A mysterious economic development project code-named “Project Rocket” is advancing in Atlanta’s suburbs.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the identity of the company seeking the massive distribution facility remains shrouded in secrecy. The story notes that e-commerce giant Amazon has reportedly been seeking an Atlanta-area site for a new fulfillment center.

Gwinnett County Planning Commission Chairman Chuck Warbington said he doesn’t know who the tenant would be, but voted to recommend a special use permit anyway, calling it “an absolute game-changer for new investment.”

Plans for “Project Rocket” include more than 1,800 employee parking spaces outside a 2.5-million-square-foot facility with an 80-foot-tall (24-meter) building, 65 loading docks and 200 truck parking spaces.

More than a dozen nearby residents expressed concerns about traffic and noise from all-night operations.


The Latest: $120M settlement over Los Angeles gas leak

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A nearly $120 million settlement has been reached in litigation stemming from a leak at a Southern California storage field where a massive methane release forced thousands from their homes three years ago.

Southern California Gas Co. said Wednesday that the settlement delivers on its commitment to the state following the October 2015 well leak at Aliso Canyon in Los Angeles.

The leak lasted nearly four months and prompted many health complaints. It was the largest single release of methane in U.S. history.

Under the settlement, SoCalGas will reimburse local, county and state governments for costs associated with the blowout. In addition the utility will establish a program with the California Air Resources Board to mitigate the methane emissions from the leak.


Court: State can base e-school funding on participation data

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The Ohio Supreme Court says the state acted within its authority when it used student participation data, not just enrollment, to determine a giant online charter school should repay $60 million from one school year.

Wednesday’s 4-2 ruling comes as the now-closed Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow remains of interest to prosecutors reviewing audit findings and politicians raising accountability issues in a midterm election year.

ECOT argued Ohio’s Department of Education overstepped its authority when relying on student learning time data. ECOT said it was treated wrongly and differently than brick-and-mortar schools.

The cash-strapped e-school was among the nation’s largest, with about 12,000 students, when it shut down in January after the state started recouping money.

A former employee alleges ECOT intentionally inflated attendance data. ECOT’s former spokesman dismissed those allegations.


Ford celebrates production of 10 million Mustang sports cars

FLAT ROCK, Mich. (AP) — Ford Motor Co. has marked the production of the 10 millionth Mustang with celebrations at the automaker’s headquarters and at the Flat Rock Assembly Plant where the iconic sports car is made.

A parade of Mustangs from 1964 to the present day rolled into the HQ’s parking lot in Dearborn, Michigan, Wednesday morning before making the 30-minute drive — complete with police escort — to the Flat Rock complex. There, the cars were organized into a configuration that spelled out, “10,000,000.” The commas were represented by the first Mustang produced and the 10 millionth, a 2019 Wimbledon White GT V8 six-speed manual convertible.

Mustang is the best-selling sports car of the last 50 years in the U.S. and the world’s top-selling sports car for three years in a row.

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