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Business news briefs — Jan. 15

health care

Network removes doctors

UnitedHealthcare is notifying about 5,000 enrollees in their Medicare managed-care plans statewide that their doctors were removed from the insurer’s physician network effective Jan. 1.

The patients should have been notified about the change before the end of the year but didn’t receive the letter that was sent to most enrollees because of a database error, a UnitedHealthcare spokesman said on Wednesday.

The error affects only a small percentage of the 102,000 Ohio residents enrolled in one of UnitedHealthcare’s Medicare managed-care plans.

UnitedHealthcare is covering services at in-network levels unit March 31 for the 5,000 affected members if they seek care from a doctor who was removed from the insurer’s network. Patients enrolled in managed-care plans typically have to seek care from an in-network health-care provider for the services to be covered with the lowest out-of-pocket charges.


Goodyear sets terms

Goodyear declared a quarterly dividend of 5 cents per share, payable March 3 to shareholders of record Jan. 31.


Apple agrees to refunds

Apple will refund at least $32.5 million to consumers to settle a federal case involving purchases that kids made without their parents’ permission while playing on mobile apps, the government announced. The Federal Trade Commission said Apple will make full refunds for any such in-app purchases made by kids using mobile phones and other devices, and incurring charges by accident or without parents’ permission.


Penney sets store closings

Department store operator J.C. Penney said it will cut 2,000 jobs and close 33 stores as it tries to turn around results. The closings include its Wooster store in the Wayne Towne Plaza in Wayne County. The cuts should save more than $65 million annually. The company will take $26 million in charges in the third quarter and $17 million afterward. Penney has 116,000 staffers. Separately, Penney is reviving sales commissions, reversing former Chief Executive Officer Ron Johnson’s decision to kill the practice during his tenure.

Walmart loses labor ruling

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. illegally retaliated against protesting U.S. workers, the National Labor Relations Board said in a complaint a union called one of the largest ever filed against an employer. The labor board said Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, threatened, disciplined and fired employees who took part in strikes and protests at 34 stores in 14 states over the past two years.


Nestle adds pet food

Nestle SA, the world’s biggest food maker, bought a U.S. dog and cat-treat company for an undisclosed price to add natural pet products. Nestle recently completed the purchase of Zuke’s, a Durango, Colo.-based marketer of natural pet snacks, the company said.


Wholesale prices up slightly

Wholesale prices climbed in December for the first time in three months to cap the smallest annual increase in five years, showing companies face little pressure to charge more. The 0.4 percent increase in the producer price index matched the median estimate of 79 economists surveyed by Bloomberg and followed a 0.1 percent drop in November, a Labor Department report showed. The 1.2 percent advance for the calendar year was the smallest since 2008, when the financial crisis made the recession that began in December 2007 even worse.

Dow rises 108 points

The Dow Jones industrial average closed up 108.08 points, or 0.7 percent, to 16,481.94. It is 94.72 points from its closing high. The Nasdaq composite rose 31.87 points, or 0.76 percent, to 4,214.88. The tech-heavy index is still 16 percent below its high during the dot-com bubble more than a decade ago. The S&P 500 gained 9.50 points, or 0.52 percent, to 1,848.38. The last closing high was 1,848.36 on Dec. 31, 2013.

Compiled from staff and wire reports.


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