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Business news briefs — Sept. 11

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AUTO INDUSTRY

U.S. unloading GM stock

The government is getting closer to selling all of its General Motors Co. stock.

The Treasury Department said in its August report to Congress that it sold $811 million worth of GM common stock last month. The report says the government has recovered about $35.4 billion of the $49.5 billion bailout it gave the Detroit automaker. That means taxpayers are still $14.1 billion in the hole.

The Treasury says the price per share of stock sold in July and August will be revealed at a later date. GM stock sold in a range of $33.50 to $37.18 in August. At the midpoint of $35.34, the government would have sold roughly 23 million shares. In July, the government sold $877 million worth of stock. At the midpoint of $35.56, it would have sold roughly 25 million shares.

That would leave it with an estimated 186 million shares. Those would have to sell for around $76 each for the government to break even, more than double the current trading price. GM shares closed Tuesday up 52 cents, or 1.4 percent, at $37 as the markets rallied on Syria’s decision to give up its chemical weapons.

In January, the Treasury announced a plan to sell the shares by early 2014 and said that it hired JPMorgan Securities and Citigroup Global Markets to conduct the sale.

RETAIL

Giant Eagle lowers prices

Giant Eagle on Wednesday said it would reduce prices on 2,000 more items in its stores, beginning today. The Pittsburgh grocer with Northeast Ohio operations said this was in addition to about 3,800 prices for everyday products it lowered in March.

The company said the reductions would occur in categories such as meat, produce, dairy, frozen products, health and beauty care. It said the average price reduction is 10 percent.

LABOR

Senator criticizes union talks

Volkswagen would become a “laughingstock” if it goes through with a deal to have the United Auto Workers represent workers at its Tennessee plant, U.S. Sen. Bob Corker said.

The Tennessee Republican told the Associated Press in a phone interview that he was dismayed when VW last week sent a letter to employees regarding its discussion with the UAW about creating a German-style works council at the Chattanooga plant.

WALL STREET

Dow rises 135 points

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index added 5.14 points, or 0.3 percent, to end at 1,689.13 in Wednesday trading. The Nasdaq composite index lost 4.01 points, or 0.1 percent, to 3,725.01.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 135.54 points, or 0.9 percent, to 15,326.60, with IBM pacing blue-chip gains, up 2.2 percent, a day after agreeing to sell its customer care outsourcing business for $505 million to Synnex Corp.

Restoration Hardware was down $9.02, or 11.9 percent, to $67.04 after reporting second-quarter sales that were not as strong as in the first quarter.

Disney rose $1.11, or 1.8 percent, to $63.94 after delaying its fifth Pirates of the Caribbean movie from a planned 2015 opening. Studios struggled with big-budget flops this summer, including Disney’s The Lone Ranger.

MANAGEMENT

Cargill names new executive

Cargill Inc., the commodities trader that’s the largest closely held U.S. company, said Chief Operating Officer David W. MacLennan will succeed Gregory R. Page as CEO in December.

MacLennan, 54, joined Cargill in 1991 and has worked in its financial, risk management, energy and animal-protein businesses in the U.S. and Europe, the Minneapolis-based company said. He was appointed Cargill’s chief financial officer and elected to the board in 2008 before taking over as president and COO in 2011.

AGRICULTURE

Meat labeling rule upheld

U.S. and Canadian meat industry groups lost a bid in federal court to temporarily block the enforcement of U.S. country-of-origin food labeling rules. The industry groups argued that the rules, issued by the Department of Agriculture, violate the U.S. Constitution by compelling speech in the form of costly and detailed labels on meat products that will confuse consumers and raise prices. U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson in Washington disagreed.

“It is well established that, when the compelled speech is commercial and purely factual in nature, the speaker’s First Amendment rights are not unduly burdened ‘as long as the disclosure requirements are reasonably related to the government’s interest in preventing deception,’ ” Jackson said.

Compiled from staff and wire reports.


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