Global Glance: Coal towns get job grants; DuPont-Dow merger scrutinized

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Here are today’s top business headlines from across the nation and world:

Coal towns hit by layoffs get job grants from US government

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) — Communities in nine U.S. states that have been hard-hit by coal layoffs are being promised more than 3,000 jobs in several industries through a multimillion-dollar federal grant. Officials for the Appalachian Regional Commission and other agencies announced the 29 projects totaling nearly $39 million Wednesday at a news conference in Huntington, West Virginia. The investments are expected to create or retain more than 3,400 jobs in agriculture, health care, manufacturing, technology and other industries. The projects are intended to help communities in Texas and in eight Appalachian states: Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. Read more

Senate committee to scrutinize DuPont-Dow merger

DOVER, Del. (AP) — The head of U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee has called for hearings next month on the proposed merger between the DuPont Co. and Dow Chemical, as well as on broader issues of consolidation within the seed and chemical industry. Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said Wednesday that Iowans are concerned that consolidation could result in higher production costs in an already declining agriculture economy. The deal is being scrutinized by Justice Department and European antitrust authorities. Read more

The hidden risk to the economy is corporate balance sheets

NEW YORK (AP) — America has a debt problem, but it’s not what you think. Yes, the federal government owes trillions of dollars more than it did a few years ago. Yes, Americans are still struggling to pay off mortgages and student loans. But it’s the buildup in debt elsewhere that is most worrying some experts, and the big borrower this time may come as a surprise: Corporate America. You might think big U.S. companies, if anything, have been too conservative with their finances. They’ve collectively hoarded hundreds of billions of dollars in cash, instead of spending it to hire workers or expand their operations. The reality is different, and more worrisome. Read more

Bold moves, tepid gains: Have central banks met their limit?

WASHINGTON (AP) — The world’s key central banks have worked themselves into contortions to try to rev up economic growth, raise inflation and coax consumers and businesses to borrow and spend more. They’ve pumped trillions into financial systems and driven interest rates about as low as they can go – even below zero in Europe and Japan. Yet after several years, the results are … meh. As central bankers meet this week at an annual conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, the global landscape remains bleak. Growth is sluggish. Inflation barely registers. Businesses won’t invest. And consumers remain mostly hunkered down eight years after a financial crisis that jolted central banks to take radical steps in the first place. Read more

Mylan says it will expand programs that lower EpiPen costs

NEW YORK (AP) — Mylan, now in the crosshairs over severe price hikes for its EpiPen, says it will expand programs that lower out-of-pocket costs by as much as half. Mylan N.V. said Thursday that the patient cost will be reduced through a savings card that will cover up to $300 for an EpiPen 2-Pak. The company said it’s also doubling eligibility for its patient assistance program, which it said will get rid of out-of-pocket costs for uninsured and underinsured patients and families. Read more

WhatsApp is going to share your number with Facebook

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Global messaging service WhatsApp says it will start sharing the phone numbers of its users with Facebook, its parent company. That means WhatsApp users could soon start seeing more targeted ads on Facebook – although not on the messaging service itself. The move is a subtle but significant shift for WhatsApp, which has long promised to safeguard the privacy of more than 1 billion users around the world. WhatsApp is giving users a limited time to opt out of sharing their information with Facebook, although they must take the extra step of unchecking a box to do so. It also says Facebook won’t post phone numbers online or give them out to anyone. Read more


Few companies, cautious bidding on offshore oil leases

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The federal government’s annual sale of oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico attracted hardly any interest on Wednesday, reflecting a dismal outlook for offshore drilling. Only three oil companies bid, on just 24 of the nearly 4,400 tracts offered for drilling and exploration in the Gulf of Mexico off the Texas coast. None competed against each other. Read more


In Iran, unique system allows payments for kidney donors

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s kidney program stands apart from other organ donation systems around the world by openly allowing payments, typically of several thousand dollars. It has helped effectively eliminate the country’s kidney transplant waiting list since 1999, the government says, in contrast to Western nations like the United States, where tens of thousands hope for an organ and thousands die waiting each year. Critics warn the system can prey on the poor in Iran’s long-sanctioned economy, with ads promising cash for kidneys. The World Health Organization and other groups oppose “commercializing” organ transplants. Some argue such a paid system in the U.S. or elsewhere could put those who cannot afford to pay at a disadvantage in securing a kidney if they need one. Read more


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