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Business news briefs — April 14


Smucker sets dividend

J.M. Smucker Co. of Orrville announced a quarterly dividend of 58 cents a share, payable Monday to shareholders of record on May 16.

The company also announced that its annual meeting will be held at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 13. The meeting will be at the Fisher Auditorium in the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, 1680 Madison Avenue, in Wooster.


Amazon phone rumor

After years of rumors,, Inc. might finally be getting into the smartphone business. The Wall Street Journal reported that the Seattle e-commerce giant will release a smartphone in the second half of the year.

The report said Amazon plans to announce the phone by the end of June and begin shipping units by the end of September. A smartphone would be the latest hardware addition for Amazon, which already competes against Apple and Samsung in the tablet market with its Kindle Fire. Its newly announced Amazon Fire TV, an Internet video-streaming set-top box, joins products from Apple TV, Roku and Google Chromecast.

A smartphone would elevate the Amazon brand to a front-and-center position in consumers’ pockets. If Amazon follows its tablet and e-reader pricing model, consumers can expect a mid-priced smartphone.


Retail sales jump

Retail sales in March rose by the largest amount in 18 months, led by strong gains in sales of autos, furniture and a number of other products. The 1.1 percent jump reported by the Commerce Department was the best showing since September 2012. The government also revised February to a 0.7 percent gain, more than double its previous estimate.

Sales had fallen in January and December. Sales of autos climbed 3.1 percent while sales at general merchandise stores, a category that covers retailers such as Walmart and Target and department stores, increased 1.9 percent, the strongest one-month gain since March 2007,

NUCLEAR energy

B&W slows project

Babcock & Wilcox Co. said it is slowing the pace of development for its small modular reactor program called mPower because it needs additional financial support for the project.

The company also said in a brief regulatory filing that mPower’s president, Christofer M. Mowry, was terminated without cause and that William A. Fox III was named successor.

North Carolina-based B&W, which has operations in Barberton, said it still believes in the mPower technology. The company added in a statement that “without the ability to secure significant additional investors or customer engineering, procurement and construction contracts to provide the financial support necessary to develop and deploy mPower reactors, the current development pace will be slowed.”

The company said it will invest about $15 million annually in the mPower project and will work with the Department of Energy and other partners over the next one to two months on plans to continue the cost-shared program.

“The support provided by DOE, Congress, the Tennessee Valley Authority and our other partners has been critical and valuable. We look forward to working with our stakeholders to find the most efficient way to move this technology toward licensing and deployment in the mid-2020 timeframe,” the company said.


Dow gains 147 points

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index gained 14.92 points, or 0.8 percent, in Monday trading to close at 1,830.61. All 10 industry sectors in the S&P 500 increased, led by energy stocks, which rose 1.3 percent. The Dow Jones industrial average added 146.49 points, or 0.9 percent, to 16,173.24. The Nasdaq composite rose 22.96 points, or 0.6 percent, to 4,022.69.

Medical device maker Edwards Lifesciences rose the most of any stock in the S&P 500 index. A federal judge on Friday reaffirmed an earlier ruling that Medtronic’s CoreValve system infringes on Edwards’ patent for a replacement heart valve. Edwards soared $8.03, or 11 percent, to $81.

Compiled from staff and wire reports

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