Business Briefs – August 9, 2017

U.S. Productivity Rose a Modest 0.9 % Rate in Spring

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Labor Department says productivity grew at an annual rate of 0.9 percent in the April-June quarter, slightly better than a scant 0.1 percent rate of increase in the first quarter.

With productivity rising, unit labor costs, the price of labor per single unit of output, increased at only a 0.6 percent pace in the second quarter after jumping at a 5.4 percent rate in the January-March period.

Fed Official Supports September Start for Bond Reductions

WASHINGTON (AP) — A member of the Federal Reserve’s interest-setting committee said Wednesday it would be appropriate for the central bank to announce next month that it was starting to trim its $4.5 trillion balance sheet, but wait until December before raising a key interest rate again. Charles Evans, president of the Fed’s regional bank in Chicago, said he does not expect the balance sheet reduction to make much of a market impact because the move has been “well-choreographed.”

Pentagon: British Firm Billed Us Over $50m For Iffy Expenses

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Pentagon audit has found a British company hired to train Afghan intelligence officers billed the U.S. government for high-end cars and paid “significant others” of the firm’s top executives six-figure salaries even though there’s no proof they did any work. Missouri Sen. Clarie McCaskill said in a statement that overall, New Century Consulting “left taxpayers on the hook for over $50 million in questionable costs.” The CEO says his company is being portrayed unfairly.

Morris Communications Selling Newspapers To GateHouse Media

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — Morris Communications will sell its 11 daily newspapers and other publications in those markets to New Media Investment Group, the parent company of GateHouse Media Inc., the companies announced Wednesday. New Media said in a news release it will pay $120 million to purchase Morris Publishing Group, the newspaper division of Georgia-based Morris Communications.

Utah’s $1.9 Billion Claim From Mine Spill Reveals No Details

WASHINGTON (AP) – Utah’s $1.9 billion claim against the EPA for a multi-state mine waste spill says Utah’s water, soil and wildlife were damaged, but offers no specifics. State officials provided a copy of the claim to The Associated Press on Wednesday. The claim stems from the August 2015 release of 3 million gallons of wastewater from an inactive gold mine in southwestern Colorado. An EPA-led contractor crew inadvertently triggered the spill.

Operator of Big Montana Coal Plant Will Keep On Running It

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The operator of one of the largest coal-fired power plants in the Western U.S. says it plans to keep running the 2,100-megawatt plant after saying last year a new operator would be needed by mid-2018. Spokesman Todd Martin said Wednesday the co-owners of the Colstrip Generating Station have decided Pennsylvania-based Talen Energy will keep running the southeastern Montana plant for the foreseeable future.