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Business Highlights

December 29, 2015

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End of meat? Startups seek meat alternatives for the masses

NEW YORK (AP) — Veggie patties have been around for decades, but a wave of startups want to make foods without animal products that look, cook and taste like the real thing.

These companies aim to wean Americans off foods like burgers and eggs, and their efforts are attracting tens of millions of dollars from investors. The goal is to lessen the dependence on livestock for food, which they say isn’t as healthy, affordable or environmentally friendly as plant-based alternatives.

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US stocks are ending 2015 mostly flat, capping volatile year

The U.S. stock market took investors for a wild ride in 2015, but in the end it was a trip to nowhere.

Despite veering between record highs and the steepest dive in four years, the stock market is on track to end the year essentially flat. That means if you invested in a fund that tracks the Standard & Poor’s 500 index, you have little to show for the past 12 months.

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In Russia, recession takes a bite out of the holiday feast

MOSCOW (AP) — For most Russians, it’s not New Year’s without a Salad Olivier, a dish meant to augur prosperity. This year, soaring food costs mean the tradition can also be a painful reminder of how rapidly many Russians’ wealth is fading amid recession and Western sanctions.

The mix of chicken, potatoes, peas, carrots and mayonnaise will cost 35 percent more to prepare this year. The stiff rise, reported by the federal statistics office, comes amid the deepest economic downturn in President Vladimir Putin’s 15 years in office.

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San Francisco’s housing shortage threatens African Americans

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — As San Francisco rides a massive building boom fueled largely by growth in tech-based jobs, developers are finally wading into a part of the city long plagued by poverty.

As modern dwellings crop up, there are fears that the city’s dwindling population of African Americans will not be able to afford the neighborhood that writer James Baldwin once called “the San Francisco America pretends does not exist.”

San Francisco’s population climbed to an estimated 860,000 this year, but the number of African Americans has plummeted from 100,000 in 1970 to fewer than half that today.

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US home prices climb in October, helped by solid job market

WASHINGTON (AP) — Steady job growth, low mortgage rates and tight inventories helped fuel rising U.S. home prices in October.

The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index rose 5.5 percent in the 12 months ending in October, up from a 5.4 percent pace in September, according to a report released Tuesday.

Home values have climbed at a roughly 5 percent pace during much of 2015, as strong hiring has bolstered a real estate market still recovering from a housing bust that triggered a recession eight years ago.

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Healthy job market lifts US consumer confidence in December

WASHINGTON (AP) — A stronger job market lifted consumer confidence in December, a business group said Tuesday. The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index rose to 96.5 this month from November’s revised 92.6.

Americans were more optimistic about current conditions and about the future.

Another gauge of Americans’ mood — the University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index — rose this month to the highest level since July.

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Coal industry on track for record low in mining deaths

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Amid layoffs and idled operations, the U.S. coal industry is close to setting a record low for on-the-job deaths in coal mines. In late December, there were 11 deaths in coal mines nationwide for the year, putting the industry on track to best the record low of 16 set in 2014.

Bruce Watzman, a spokesman for the National Mining Association, said the industry has had a heightened focus on safety with a goal of zero fatalities. He said the reduction in mine employment in recent years may also be a factor in the record low deaths.

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DuPont moves ahead on job cuts ahead of Dow merger

DuPont will cut 1,700 jobs in its home state of Delaware and thousands more globally as it prepares for its merger with Dow Chemical.

Dow and DuPont announced earlier this month that they would join to create a giant chemical producer that will eventually be split into three independent companies.

At that time, DuPont announced a $700 million cost savings and restructuring program but did not specify how many jobs would be impacted or where. DuPont CEO Ed Breen sent a letter to employees Tuesday informing them that approximately 1,700 Delaware positions would be eliminated in the beginning of the year.

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KaloBios says it is appealing Nasdaq delisting

NEW YORK (AP) — KaloBios, the biotech company formerly run by Martin Shkreli, says that it is appealing a decision by Nasdaq to delist the company from its stock market.

San Francisco-based KaloBios was notified last week that Nasdaq would move to delist the company’s stock because of Shkreli’s arrest and several other issues.

Shkreli was charged with securities fraud earlier this month. KaloBios subsequently fired him as CEO and he resigned from its board.

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Macy’s recalls 2 Martha Stewart frying pans after injuries

NEW YORK (AP) — Macy’s is recalling two Martha Stewart brand frying pans after customers said small metal discs popped off the pans and caused bruises, burns and welts.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said Tuesday that there were seven reports of metal discs flying off the frying pans and three reports of injuries. The metal discs cover the rivets that attach the pan to the handle.

The 8-inch and 10-inch frying pans were sold as part of a Martha Stewart Collection 10-piece stainless steel cookware set. The sets cost about $170 and were sold at Macy’s stores and its website for four years until September. The sets were also sold for $90 at shops on military bases.

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The Dow Jones industrial average rose 192.71 points, or 1.1 percent, to 17,720.98. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index gained 21.86 points, or 1.1 percent, to 2,078.36. The Nasdaq composite added 66.95 points, or 1.3 percent, to 5,107.94.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose $1.06, or 2.9 percent, to close at $37.87 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, gained $1.17, or 3.2 percent, to close at $37.79 a barrel in London. In other energy trading in New York, wholesale gasoline rose 4.3 cents, or 3.5 percent, to $1.276 a gallon, heating oil rose 3.9 cents, or 3.6 percent, to $1.23 a gallon, and natural gas jumped 14.4 cents, or 6.5 percent, to $2.372 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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