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Business news briefs — Feb. 20

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TELEVISION

WWE shows to move

World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. is seeking a new home for its Raw and Smackdown shows after failing to renew an agreement to air the programs on Comcast Corp.’s USA and SyFy cable networks.

WWE angered distributors, including DirecTV, by starting a subscription streaming network earlier this month that provides matches previously available on pay-per-view and programming unavailable on television. Raw was USA’s most-watched show in the week ended Feb. 9, according to industry researcher Nielsen’s data, and the program regularly ranks among the week’s most-watched on cable television.

ELECTRONICS

New wearable devices

HTC Corp., the Taiwan smartphone maker struggling with sliding sales, plans to demonstrate the first of three wearable devices next week in Barcelona, Spain. A smartwatch prototype based on Qualcomm Inc.’s Toq device will be previewed to carriers at the Mobile World Congress trade show, with no plans to unveil the device publicly. HTC also is developing a watch using Google’s Now service and an electronic bracelet that plays music, though it may not demonstrate them in Barcelona.

BEVERAGE INDUSTRY

Investor wants change

Activist investor Nelson Peltz is ramping up the pressure on PepsiCo, reaffirming his call for the company to separate its global drinks division from its snack unit. The call for a split comes as PepsiCo’s drinks, which include Mountain Dew, Tropicana and Aquafina, have lost ground to bigger rival Coca-Cola Co. in recent years. U.S. soda consumption in general has also been on the decline, with people worried about the calories in regular soda and the artificial sweeteners in diet sodas.

Coke quarterly dividend set

Coca-Cola is raising its quarterly dividend by 9 percent. The next dividend is payable April 1 to shareholders of record as of March 14. Coca-Cola says raising the dividend to 30.5 cents from 28 cents reflects the confidence it has in its long-term cash flow. The Atlanta company returned $9.8 billion to shareholders in 2013 through $5 billion in dividends and by buying back $4.8 billion in stock. It says it has returned $34.7 billion to shareholders since the start of 2010. Coca-Cola also sells Sprite, Dasani water, Minute Maid orange juice, and Vitaminwater.

INSURANCE

Allstate tallies catastrophes

Allstate Corp., the largest publicly traded U.S. home and auto insurer, said catastrophes cost the company $277 million before tax last month as winter weather fueled claims. The cost is $180 million after tax, the Northbrook, Ill.-based insurer said. The company has a large regional office based in Hudson.

ECONOMY

Slight rise in interest rates

Average interest rates on fixed mortgages rose this week but remained near historically low levels. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday the average rate for the 30-year loan increased to 4.33 percent from 4.28 percent last week. The average for the 15-year mortgage edged up to 3.35 percent from 3.33 percent.

Dow goes up 93 points

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 11.03 points to 1,839.78. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 92.67 points to 16,133.23. The Nasdaq composite climbed 29.59 points to 4,267.55.

Compiled from staff and wire reports


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