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Monday Afternoon Business Brief

March 10, 2014, 1:19 PM

Monday Afternoon Business Brief

Discouraging economic news from Asia is sending stocks lower on Wall Street. China's exports slumped 18 percent in February and Japan lowered its economic growth estimate for the last three months of last year. The downbeat report from China is hurting several industry sectors heavily reliant on Chinese economic growth, particularly materials, energy and industrials.

  • President Barack Obama's top economists say the nation is on track to make economic progress over the next two years. But The Council of Economic Advisers says it would do even better if Congress enacts the additional spending Obama proposed in his most recent budget. They predict the nation's economy would grow by 3.3 percent this year and 3.5 percent in 2015, and unemployment would drop to 6.4 percent next year and 6 percent in 2016. That's if Congress approves $56 billion in spending that is above the limits set in a bipartisan budget agreement.
  • The Obama administration says it's pulling the plug on proposed changes to the Medicare prescription program that ran into strong opposition on Capitol Hill. Among other changes, the regulation proposed to remove three classes of drugs from a special protected list that guarantees seniors access to a wide selection of critical medications. The three classes of drugs facing removal were antidepressants, antipsychotics and drugs that suppress the immune system to prevent rejection of a transplanted organ.
  • American Airlines CEO Doug Parker says his company is getting $381 million from selling takeoff and landing rights at New York's LaGuardia Airport and Reagan National Airport outside Washington. The U.S. Justice Department gave a higher figure of more than $425 million but Parker says, "That's their valuation, not ours." He says the government might have included the value of slots that American picked up at New York's Kennedy Airport.
  • Fruit supply companies Chiquita of the United States and Fyffes of Ireland say they have agreed to merge to create the world's biggest banana supplier. The all-shares agreement means the two companies will become ChiquitaFyffes PLC, be traded on the New York Stock Exchange and be headquartered in Dublin. The two companies say the merger will create a banana behemoth that ships more than 160 million crates worldwide, about a quarter more than either of their main rivals, Dole and Del Monte. ChiquitaFyffes also would become the world's No. 3 distributor of pineapples and melons.

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