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Business news briefs — Oct. 7

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Hybrids at Honda

Honda, the first automaker to sell hybrids in the U.S., said it plans a gasoline-electric lineup overhaul starting with an Accord Hybrid.

The 2014 version goes on sale Oct. 31, with a base price comparable with a V-6 engine version of the Accord, and that’s rated as getting 50 miles per gallon in city driving.

Honda needs better-selling hybrids. Current models, including the Insight hatchback, CR-Z coupe and a version of the Civic, generate a fraction of Toyota Prius deliveries. Honda’s Insight beat the Toyota hybrid to the U.S. by about six months. Yet the company that led U.S. fuel economy ranking for years stumbled in designing a compelling challenger to the Prius.

CEO change at bank

John S. Gulas has been ousted as president and chief executive officer of Farmers National Banc Corp., the parent company of Farmers National Bank.

News of his termination came in a news release issued late Friday and followed a decision made Monday by the company’s board of directors, said Amber Wallace, spokeswoman at the bank. “I can’t say more,” Wallace said. “The only thing I will tell you is that this had nothing to do with the safety and soundness of the bank.”

700 metal jobs gone

Ormet Corp. is shutting down and laying off most of its remaining 700 workers, a major blow to the economy of southeastern Ohio.

The Hannibal-based aluminum smelter announced the decision after the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio made a ruling related to the company’s electricity subsidy that fell short of what managers felt they need to be viable.

Ormet has struggled in recent years because of low aluminum prices.

The company uses more electricity than any other business in the state, with demand that exceeds the amount needed to power a medium-size city.

To help it stay in business, American Electric Power and the PUCO agreed to electricity-rate subsidies that are the largest discount of their type in the state. Other customers foot the bill, with an extra charge of $2 to $3 per month for a typical AEP household.

Since 2009, Ormet has received about $308 million in rate discounts. At the same time, AEP rates have risen, which Ormet officials have said cancels out the benefit of the subsidy.

The company asked the PUCO for an emergency increase in the discount. Ormet had hoped that the additional aid would help facilitate a sale of the company to Wayzata Investment Partners of Minnesota.

Last week, the state panel approved only part of Ormet’s request. It had to weigh testimony from the company’s supporters against pleas from consumer advocates and others who said the subsidy was already too large.

At full employment, Ormet had more than 1,100 workers. It is one of the largest employers in an economically depressed region that covers parts of Ohio and West Virginia.

STOCK MARKET

Marriott to Nasdaq

Marriott International Inc., the largest publicly traded hotel chain, is moving to the Nasdaq Stock Market from the New York Stock Exchange. The shares will be listed on Nasdaq on Oct. 21 and keep the MAR ticker symbol, the company said. Tom Marder, a spokesman for Marriott, said the switch “was a cost consideration,” and had no further comment. Oracle Corp. moved its stock listing to the NYSE from Nasdaq in July, the biggest company ever to jump between the exchanges. Oracle’s departure followed several high-profile wins for Nasdaq, including moves from NYSE by Texas Instruments Inc.’s in 2011 and Kraft Foods Inc. in 2012.

WALL STREET

Dow drops 136 points

On Monday, the Standard & Poor’s 500 index dropped 14.38 points, or 0.9 percent, to 1,676.12. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 136.34 points, or 0.9 percent, to 14,936.24. The Nasdaq composite fell 37.38 points, or 1 percent, to 3,770.38.

The losses were broad. Nine of the 10 industry groups in the S&P 500 dropped. Phone companies were the only sector to advance.

Until now, the stock market has mostly moved sideways since the federal government shutdown began, indicating that investors still expect lawmakers to come up with a deal. The S&P 500 is down 0.3 percent in October.

In government bond trading, the yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.63 percent from 2.65 percent. The yield has fallen close to its lowest in two months.

Among highlighted stocks, Mattel slipped $1.40, or 3.3 percent, to $41.15 after a Goldman Sachs analyst cut his earnings estimates for the toy maker. The investment bank also cut its estimates for Hasbro, which fell 80 cents, or 1.7 percent, to $46.53.

Compiled from staff and wire reports


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