Business news briefs

This is an archived article that was published on in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Elan to explore

company sale

Irish drugmaker Elan Corp. said it will explore a sale of the company while its board fends off a hostile takeover bid from Royalty Pharma. Elan said Royalty can participate in Elan's sale process, but it wants shareholders to steer clear of Royalty's latest bid. Royalty has offered to pay $13 for each Elan share plus up to $2.50 per share in payments based on performance milestones.

Syrian conflict

pushes oil up

Oil rose to the highest level since January amid concerns about a possible escalation in Syria's civil war. Oil for July delivery rose $1.16 to close at $97.85 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It finished the week with a gain of $1.82 a barrel, or 1.9 percent. The Middle East is a key source of crude oil and conflicts there usually push oil prices higher.

U.S. wholesale

prices up in May

A rise in food and gas costs drove a measure of wholesale prices up in May. But outside those volatile categories, inflation was mild. The Labor Department said the producer price index rose 0.5 percent in May from April, nearly offsetting a 0.7 percent decline in April from March. Gas prices rose 1.5 percent last month. Food costs increased 0.6 percent.

Smithfield's 4Q

profit tumbles

Pork producer Smithfield Foods' fourth quarter profit sank nearly 63 percent to $29.7 million as feed costs rose. Revenue was up more than 3 percent to $3.32 billion but its cost of sales rose 6 percent. Smithfield agreed last month to a $4.72 billion takeover offer from the majority shareholder in China's largest meat processor.

Economy better

despite tax burden

The International Monetary Fund said the U.S. economy is on sounder footing than it was a year ago but is still being restrained by government spending cuts and tax increases. The IMF's annual report on the U.S. economy said the underlying fundamentals are gradually improving: Home prices and construction are rising and employers are steadily adding jobs.

Foreign U.S. debt

holdings decline

Foreign demand for U.S. Treasury securities fell in April for the first time in more than a year as China and Japan both trimmed their holdings. The Treasury Department said total foreign holdings dropped 1.2 percent in April from March to $5.67 trillion. China, the largest foreign buyer of Treasury debt, reduced its holdings 0.4 percent to $1.26 trillion.

Factor output

increases slightly

U.S. factories increased their output just 0.1 percent in May from April after declines the previous two months. Factories made more autos and computers last month, but produced less furniture and primary metals. Total industrial production, which covers manufacturing, mining and utilities, was unchanged in May.