Global Glance: Samsung phones catch fire in China; Johnson & Johnson to buy Abbott’s vision unit

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

Samsung phones reportedly catch fire in China

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Samsung said Monday it is investigating reports that two Galaxy Note 7 smartphones caught fire in China, where the company previously said all phones for sale were safe and didn’t need to be included in a global recall. If confirmed, the reports would deepen Samsung Electronics’s growing woes with the problem-plagued smartphones. It has already faced criticism that its recall policies have been confusing for consumers and left them uncertain about whether they should continue using their phones. Read more


Johnson & Johnson to buy Abbott’s vision unit for $4.33B

NEW YORK (AP) — Johnson & Johnson said Friday that it is paying more than $4.3 billion in cash to buy the eye health unit of Abbott Laboratories as it seeks to boost its vision business. The unit, called Abbott Medical Optics, makes lasers and other equipment used for cataract surgeries and laser vision correction procedures. It also makes eye drops and cleaners for contact lenses. AMO posted sales of $1.1 billion last year. Johnson & Johnson said that the purchase will enter it into the cataracts surgery market and grow its own vision business, which includes Acuvue contact lenses. Read more


Drone operators seek permission to fly out of direct sight

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — As thousands of commercial drones take to the skies under new Federal Aviation Administration rules, some small operators are pursuing a coveted exemption that would allow them to fly their drones where they can’t be seen by the pilot. The companies who want them say the so-called line-of-sight exemptions are essential to someday use drones for such tasks as cleanup and repair after storm damage and monitoring widespread crop conditions. But thus far, the FAA has only given exemptions to three companies that participated in a year-long FAA pilot program: CNN, BNSF Railway and the drone data company PrecisionHawk. Read more


Americans take on more mortgage debt as housing recovers

WASHINGTON (AP) — More Americans are buying houses and taking on mortgage debt at a time when higher home prices are also boosting their ownership stakes. The trends, revealed in a Federal Reserve report Friday, reflect the healing of the U.S. housing market nearly a decade after the real estate bubble burst. The Fed’s quarterly report on household wealth showed that Americans’ net worth climbed 1.2 percent during the April-June quarter, to $89.1 trillion. Stock and mutual fund portfolios increased 2.3 percent to $21.2 trillion. Housing wealth rose 1.9 percent to $25.6 trillion. The value of checking and savings accounts, as well as pension entitlements, also climbed. Read more


Hawaii lawmakers promise reform for confined fishermen

State and federal lawmakers are promising to improve conditions for hundreds of foreign fishermen working in Hawaii’s commercial fleet, and at least one company has already stopped buying fish from the boats following an Associated Press investigation that found the men have been confined to vessels for years without basic labor protections. Whole Foods halted buying seafood caught by foreign crew until it’s clear the men are treated fairly. On Sunday, the Hawaii Seafood Council said that starting Oct. 1, the Honolulu Fish Auction will sell fish only from boats that have adopted a new, standardized contract aimed at assuring no forced labor exists on board. Read more


US consumer prices ticked up 0.2 percent in August

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. consumer prices edged up 0.2 percent in August as a surge in medical care offset flat readings for food and energy. The result follows an unchanged figure in July. Core inflation, which excludes the volatile categories of food and energy, rose 0.3 percent, the Labor Department reported Friday. It was the biggest monthly increase since February. The climb in core inflation was led by a record jump in drug prices and the biggest rise in doctor and hospital charges in a quarter-century. Read more


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