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Business news briefs — Feb. 14

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AUTOS

LaCrosse, Yukon honored

The 2014 Buick LaCrosse and 2015 GMC Yukon have been named Car and Truck of the 2014 Cleveland Auto Show. The Cleveland Auto Show opens its doors to the public March 1 and runs through March 9 at the I-X Center near Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.

“The LaCrosse is definitely the flagship for the Buick brand,” said Ed Babcock, chairman of the 2014 Cleveland Auto Show and fourth-generation owner of the Junction Family Auto Dealerships based in Chardon. “It offers all-wheel drive, as well as the availability of eAssist for greater fuel economy.”

Robert Coffey, zone manager for Buick GMC, said, “The LaCrosse is our flagship sedan, while the Yukon has been totally re-engineered from top to bottom for 2015, so they are both very exciting vehicles.”

GASOLINE

Price spike coming soon

Drivers, here’s the bad news: You’ll be paying more for gasoline in the coming weeks. The good news: You’ll likely pay less than last year. Or the year before, or the year before that.

The price of gasoline held steady into early February, but an increase is almost inevitable this time of year. Pump prices have gone up an average of 31 cents per gallon in February over the past three years. And although this year’s rise might not reach the heights of years past, there are reasons for drivers in some regions — like the Northeast — to worry about a painful spike.

The price of crude oil has risen 8 percent over the past month, to $100 per barrel. And analysts expect fuel supplies to begin to decline as refineries dial back production to perform maintenance and make the switch to summer fuels.

ADVERTISING

Disclosure limits proposed

Lengthy lists of drug side effects recited in TV ads are so baffling they may cause consumers to overlook the worst harms of the medicine, U.S. regulators said.

The Food and Drug Administration is studying whether disclosure limited only to serious side effects would improve consumer understanding, according to an agency document posted online Friday. To cover lesser side effects, the FDA proposed adding a line about “potential additional risks.”

ACQUISITIONS

Jos. A. Bank buying Bauer

Jos. A. Bank Clothiers Inc. is buying the parent company of Eddie Bauer in a cash-and-stock deal valued at $825 million that will help strengthen its menswear business and diversify its offerings.

The deal comes as rival Men’s Wearhouse Inc. is pursuing Jos. A. Bank.

Men’s Wearhouse said in a statement that it will consult with its legal and financial advisers to evaluate its options with regards to Jos. A. Bank. Its shares fell more than 8 percent in Friday morning trading. Investors may believe the Eddie Bauer deal makes a transaction between Jos. A. Bank and Men’s Wearhouse less likely.

EARNINGS

Broth sales boost Campbell

When people take an interest in cooking, broth sales apparently get a bump.

Campbell Soup has been struggling to boost sluggish sales of its famous condensed and ready-to-eat canned soups. But there is a bright spot in its U.S. soup division: broth.

The company on Friday reported a higher quarterly profit as U.S. soup sales rose 5 percent. The bump was largely a quirk of the calendar, however; Thanksgiving fell later in the year, meaning the higher shipments associated with the holidays were pushed back to its fiscal second quarter.

In fact, Campbell said consumer purchases for its soup division were down 1 percent in the period. People bought more of its Swanson broth, but less of its condensed and ready-to-eat soups.

ECONOMY

U.S. factory output sinks

Harsh winter weather led to a steep drop in U.S. factory output in January.

Manufacturers made fewer cars and trucks, appliances, furniture and carpeting, as the recent cold spell ended five straight months of increased production

The Federal Reserve said factory production plunged 0.8 percent in January, reversing gains of 0.3 percent in both December and November. Automakers lost days of production because of snowstorms, as their production plummeted 5.1 percent.

Overall industrial production, which includes manufacturing, mining and utilities, fell 0.3 percent in January. Output for utilities rose 4.1 percent last month as the freezing temperatures boosted heating demand.

Compiled from staff and wire reports.


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