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Tuesday Afternoon Business Brief

September 2, 2014, 1:44 PM

Tuesday Afternoon Business Brief
  • Stocks are mostly lower in afternoon trading, despite a pair of reports that suggest the U.S. economy is gaining strength. The Institute for Supply Management says its gauge of manufacturing in August reached the highest level since March 2011, while the Commerce Department says construction spending surged 1.8 percent in July. However, crude oil prices are down more than $2 today, pulling down shares of oil and gas companies. Energy companies are the biggest losers among the 10 sectors in the S&P 500 index.
  • Dominion Resources, Duke Energy and other partners have proposed building a $5 billion natural gas pipeline to connect the Southeast with the large supplies of natural gas being produced in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia. The 550-mile project would begin in Harrison County, West Virginia and stretch to southern North Carolina. The partners say they expect to receive regulatory approval by mid-2016 and to start operating the pipeline in 2018.
  • Dollar General has raised its bid for rival Family Dollar to approximately $9.1 billion. Dollar General's previous bid was rejected by Family Dollar in favor of an offer of a lower offer from Dollar Tree, saying that regulators were less likely to stand in the way. In addition to upping the offer, Dollar General says it's now willing to shed 1,500 stores in order to steer clear of antitrust issues.
  • Shares of Norwegian Cruise Line Holding have jumped more than 11 percent on the news that it has agreed to buy Prestige Cruises International for $3 billion. Buying Prestige will help Norwegian compete with its larger rivals: Carnival Corp. and Royal Caribbean Cruises.
  • Netflix is giving its Internet video subscribers a more discreet way to recommend movies and TV shows to their Facebook friends. Until now, Netflix subscribers linking the service to their Facebook accounts automatically disclosed everything they were watching with a potentially wide-reaching range of people. The company believes the open-ended approach discouraged most Netflix subscribers from connecting their accounts with their Facebook profiles. The new system allows subscribers to select which friends receive their recommendations.

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