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Business news briefs — March 14

ECONOMY

U.S. wholesale prices drop

The prices that companies receive for their goods and services fell slightly in February, the latest sign that inflation is tame. The producer price index, which measures price changes before they reach the consumer, dropped 0.1 percent in February, the Labor Department said Friday. That’s the first decline since November.

A sharp fall in the price markups by wholesalers and retailers pushed down the index. Producer prices rose 0.9 percent from 12 months ago. That’s the smallest 12-month increase since last May.

FOOD

Dannon to cut yogurt sugar

Dannon says it will cut back the amount of sugar in its yogurts intended for children. The move is part of a variety of measures the company is taking to improve the nutritional content of its yogurts by 2016.

One of the goals outlined is to have all its yogurts for kids — such as Danimals — contain 23 grams or less of sugar per 6-ounce serving. Currently, the company says only 30 percent of its yogurt for kids meet that standard.

For yogurts aimed at adults, Dannon says 70 percent of its products will meet that threshold for sugar, up from the 62 percent. The company is also committing to having 75 percent of its yogurts be low fat or fat free by 2016, up from 68 percent.

RETAIL

Target admits ignoring alert

Target acknowledged that its computer security system had alerted it to suspicious activity after hackers infiltrated its network last year, but the company ultimately decided to ignore it, allowing what would become one of the largest data breaches ever recorded to proceed without a hitch.

“With the benefit of hindsight, we are investigating whether, if different judgments had been made, the outcome may have been different,” Molly Snyder, a spokeswoman for Target, said in a news release.

Before the attack, Target installed security software designed by FireEye, a security firm based in Milpitas, Calif., according to two researchers who spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing client confidentiality.

FireEye’s software, as it turns out, worked as designed. It isolates incoming Web traffic and looks for suspicious activity. In Target’s case, the software sounded multiple alarms as criminals uploaded tools to siphon out customers’ credit and personal data.

EARNINGS

Cooper reports lower profits

Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. of Findlay reported fourth-quarter net income of $25.8 million, or 31 cents a share, on revenue of $861 million. That was down from profits of $73 million, or $1.15 a share, on revenue of $1.06 billion a year ago.

The company said its quarter included $9 million in costs from a merger attempt that failed with India-based Apollo Tyres.

For the full year of 2013, Cooper profits were $111 million, or $1.73 a share, down from $220 million, or $3.49 a share, in 2012. Revenues in 2013 were $3.4 billion, down from $4.2 billion.

WALL STREET

Dow Jones falls 43 points

Major stock indexes moved between small gains and losses on Friday. Many investors took a cautious approach, turning to lower-risk stocks like utilities.

The Dow Jones industrial average slid 43.22 points to 16,065.67. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 5.21 points to 1,841.13. The Nasdaq composite dropped 15.02 points to 4,245.40.

The S&P 500 index ended the week down less than 2 percent from a record high reached the previous Friday. And it remains just slightly in the red for the year.

recall

Recall expands for child seats

Graco Children’s Products has added 403,222 child seats to last month’s recall of 3.8 million to replace faulty harness buckles.

But the added seats won’t end a dispute with the U.S. government’s road safety watchdog. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration still wants Graco to add 1.8 million infant seats to the recall because they have the same buckles.

Buckles can get gummed up by food and drinks, making it difficult to remove children. In some cases parents have had to cut harnesses to get their children out. The agency says the problem increases the injury risk in emergencies.

Graco says in a letter to the agency that it found additional toddler and harnessed booster seats that should be recalled. The company still believes the infant seats should be excluded.

Compiled from staff and wire reports



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