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Wednesday Afternoon Business Brief

March 12, 2014, 1:43 PM

Wednesday Afternoon Business Brief

Stocks are little changed in afternoon trading on Wall Street. A dearth of U.S. economic news has investors focusing on new data signaling slower growth in China and the ongoing tensions in Ukraine. Stocks have been fluctuating between small gains and losses.

  • General Motors is offering free loaner cars and $500 toward a new GM vehicle to more than a million owners of compact cars that are being recalled for a deadly ignition switch defect. But the owners have to ask in order to get the benefits. The offers were disclosed in a document posted today on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's website. Owners will be able to use the loaner cars until parts arrive at dealerships to replace the faulty switches. The $500 cash allowance offer runs through April 30.
  • Herbalife is facing an inquiry from the Federal Trade Commission. The nutrition and supplement says it received a civil investigative demand from the FTC today and plans to cooperate fully. Herbalife says it believes it is in compliance with all laws. Yesterday, hedge fund manager William Ackman renewed his attacks on the company. He has said repeatedly that he believes it operates as a pyramid scheme.
  • The maker of OxyContin says it has completed testing of an abuse-resistant version of the painkiller hydrocodone. Purdue Pharma's tablets are designed to prevent users from crushing them for snorting or injection. The development could cut into sales of the new painkiller Zohydro, which has been heavily criticized for lacking similar safeguards.
  • Yahoo is hoping Yelp's popular online reviews of local merchants will draw more people to its search engine. Ratings and excerpts from Yelp's merchant reviews began to appear in Yahoo's search results today. Boosting search traffic is a high priority for Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer because the queries spawn insights into users' interests, which can be used to sell advertising. Yahoo ranks a distant third in Internet search behind Google and Microsoft.

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