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Business news briefs — March 13

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FINANCE

GE spinoff planned

General Electric is moving ahead with plans to spin off its North American consumer lending unit, saying that it will complete an initial public offering for the business later this year. A filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission for the company, to be called Synchrony Financial, estimates proceeds of up to $100 million, a figure primarily used to calculate the filing fee. The document did not indicate how many shares will be offered or at what price. General Electric Co., based in Fairfield, Conn., announced last fall that it would spin off the business, which is part of GE Capital and provides store credit cards through retailers like Walmart. The conglomerate has been shifting its focus more toward industrial equipment and appliances.

MANUFACTURING

VAM set in Youngstown

Youngstown city officials said a threading mill will be constructed in an investment of $81.6 million. The unit makes connectors for pipe used in oil and gas exploration. The company is VAM USA LLC, which is a joint venture of Vallourec Star, Nippon Steel and Sumitomo Metals. The Business Journal Daily of Youngstown reported the deal.

RETAIL

Amazon raises fee

Amazon.com Inc., the world’s largest Internet retailer, boosted the price of its Prime membership by 25 percent to $99 a year, the first increase since the service’s introduction nine years ago. The new Prime Fresh, a same-day local delivery service offering groceries and other daily necessities, will remain at $299, Amazon.com said on its website.

Retail sales up

Retail sales bounced back in February after suffering a steep decline during a bitterly cold January. Shoppers spent more on autos, clothing and furniture. The Commerce Department said seasonally adjusted retail sales rose 0.3 percent in February. Spending had fallen 0.6 percent in January and 0.3 percent in December.

PHARMACEUTICALS

Painkiller drug change

The maker of OxyContin says it has completed testing of an abuse-resistant version of the painkiller hydrocodone, a surprise development that could derail sales of the recently launched Zohydro, a similar medication that has been criticized for lacking such safeguards.

Purdue Pharma says it plans to submit its extended-release hydrocodone drug to the Food and Drug Administration later this year. The company’s tablets are designed to prevent users from crushing them for snorting or injection.

INTERNET

Yahoo adds reviews

Yahoo is cribbing from Yelp’s online reviews of local merchants to soup up its search engine. Ratings and excerpts from Yelp’s merchant reviews started appearing in Yahoo’s search results Wednesday.

REAL ESTATE

Slight rise in rates

Average rates on fixed mortgages rose last week. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said the average rate for the 30-year loan increased to 4.37 percent from 4.28 last week. The average for the 15-year mortgage rose to 3.38 percent from 3.32.

Compiled from staff and wire reports


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