The stock market is flirting with record territory, boosted by a big acquisition in the food industry and reports that lawmakers are moving closer to a U.S. budget deal. Food distributor Sysco rose the most in the Standard & Poor's 500 index today after it announced an agreement to buy US Foods for $8.2 billion. That put the S&P 500 above its record. The Dow and Nasdaq also advanced.
- Germany's express delivery and mail company Deutsche Post DHL is testing a drone that could be used to deliver urgently needed goods to hard-to-reach places. The small pilotless helicopter flew a package of medicine today from a pharmacy in Bonn to the company's headquarters on the other side of the Rhine River. The company has no plans to start actual drone deliveries. On-line retailer Amazon is also working on a drone to deliver goods to customers despite legal obstacles in the U.S.
- Massachusetts officials have reached a $265 million settlement with mining company Alpha Appalachia Holdings Inc. for allegedly misrepresenting its safety record in an effort to artificially inflate its stock price. The Pension Reserves Investment Management Board oversees public pension investments in Massachusetts and was the lead plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit against the company formerly known as Massey Energy Co. An explosion at a West Virginia mine killed 29 people in 2010. The investigation uncovered hundreds of safety violations, causing the company's stock to plunge.
- The Rev. Al Sharpton says a coalition of major retailers has agreed to create a customer "bill of rights" that will be posted in stores to help prevent racial profiling. He says the bill of rights will be posted in stores and on retailers' websites this week. The two groups first met last month after several black shoppers alleged they were racially profiled at Macy's and Barneys New York. The stores deny they had policies that targeted black customers.
- How about a barely used Spanish airport for that hard-to-buy-for person on your holiday list? Ciudad Real's Central airport cost some $1.5 billion to build and became a symbol of the country's wasteful spending. It's now for sale. Minimum price: about $137 million. The airport failed to draw enough traffic and the operator went bankrupt last year. The company's receiver is accepting offers until Dec. 27.