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Business news briefs — Nov. 1

LEGAL

DuPont chemical targeted

Nine Ohio and West Virginia residents who have cancer and other diseases have filed federal lawsuits this month against chemical giant DuPont, alleging the company knowingly contaminated drinking water supplies with a chemical used by one of its plants.

The lawsuits are among about 50 such cases — including one alleging wrongful death — filed against DuPont since April, when a court-appointed science panel found probable links between exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid, also known as C8, and kidney cancer, testicular cancer and thyroid disease, among others.

DuPont, based in Wilmington, Del., uses C8 at its plant near Parkersburg, W.Va., but plans to stop making and using the chemical by 2015. C8 is a key ingredient in Teflon.

The recent litigation is the latest in a years-long battle between DuPont and residents of the Mid-Ohio Valley, in the heart of Appalachia along the Ohio River.

About 80,000 area residents filed a class-action lawsuit against the company in 2001. It resulted in a settlement in which DuPont agreed to pay as much as $343 million for residents’ medical tests, the removal of as much C8 from the area’s water supply as possible and a science panel study.

TRANSPORTATION

New Cleveland shipping plan

The Port of Cleveland plans to offer direct, scheduled freight shipping to ports in northern Europe starting in April. Port officials say the plan would provide the only scheduled international container service on the Great Lakes. The monthly service, via the Saint Lawrence Seaway, means businesses in the region will attempt to ship goods faster and save money by skipping East Coast stops. Estimates are the service will annually haul hundreds of tons of cargo, such as industrial and consumer products and automotive equipment. The plan is for an Amsterdam-based company, the Spliethoff Group, to manage the service and provide the ships. The Port of Cleveland wouldn’t subsidize the service or invest capital under the deal, which hasn’t been finalized.

ECONOMY

U.S. factory index increases

Factory activity expanded in October at the fastest pace in 2½ years, suggesting that the 16-day partial shutdown of the U.S. government had little effect on manufacturers.

Instead, overseas demand and healthy auto sales appear to be supporting factory output. The housing recovery is also lifting the furniture and wood products industry despite a recent slowing in home sales. The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing managers, reported a solid manufacturing figure for October. The ISM’s manufacturing index rose to 56.4 from 56.2 in September. A reading above 50 indicates growth.

INVESTING

Facebook hits mark

Facebook Inc.’s fourth straight quarter of positive net income settles one of the final conditions for the 29th-biggest U.S. stock to join the benchmark Standard & Poor’s 500 index 17 months after its trading debut. The world’s largest social-networking service reported third-quarter profit of $425 million on Oct. 30 as advertisers boosted spending on promotions targeting mobile-device users.

RETAIL

Best Buy plans more stores

Best Buy, the world’s largest consumer-electronics retailer, will open most of its approximately 1,050 U.S. stores as early as 10 p.m. on Nov. 14, before Sony starts selling the PlayStation 4 in North America. The stores also will open early when Microsoft’s Xbox One goes on sale Nov. 22. Best Buy is trying to reverse a slide in entertainment sales caused in part by aging gaming systems and competition from Amazon.com Inc. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

Big Lots to exit wholesale

Big Lots Inc. of Columbus said it will close its wholesale business by the end of the year, citing tough competition and weaker sales and margins. It did not say how many employees would be affected.

Walmart offers early deals

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is offering shoppers a jump on holiday buying, pulling forward by nearly a month seven big deals on items such as TVs and tablets that were originally reserved for the day after Thanksgiving and so-called Cyber Monday.

Shoppers were to be able to purchase the items online starting shortly after midnight Friday. At the same time, Walmart.com will push another 300 holiday deals on its website, from toys to home decor. The seven deals include a 42-inch JVC LED TV for $299, a savings of 36 percent, and a 10-inch Xelio tablet for $49, a 51 percent discount.

Compiled from staff and wire reports.



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