Business Tidbits

Monopoly Fans Vote to Add Cat, Toss Iron Tokens

PAWTUCKET, R.I. (AP) – The Scottie dog has a new nemesis in Monopoly after fans voted in an online contest to add a cat token to the property trading game, replacing the iron, toy maker Hasbro Inc. said Wednesday.

The results were announced after the shoe, wheelbarrow and iron were neck-and-neck for elimination in the final hours of voting that sparked passionate efforts by fans to save their favorite tokens, and by businesses eager to capitalize on the publicity.

The vote closed just before midnight Tuesday, marking the first time that fans have had a say on which of the eight tokens to add and which one to toss. The pieces identify the players and have changed a lot since Parker Brothers bought the game from its original designer in 1935.

Fines Levied Against RBS in Rate-Fixing Scandal

LONDON (AP) – Britain’s Royal Bank of Scotland on Wednesday became the third major bank to be caught up in a global probe of interest rate manipulation, but what makes the $610 million fine against the lender so remarkable is how it will be paid: by the bankers themselves.

Because RBS is 80 percent owned by the British government, which bailed it out during the 2008 financial crisis, the bank plans to cut 2012 bonuses and claw back previous payouts from staffers implicated in the fraud, their managers and some other employees. To take money from the corporation would, in effect, amount to making British citizens pay for the bank’s role in the scandal.

RBS, Barclays of the U.K. and UBS of Switzerland were found to have rigged the London interbank offered rate, or LIBOR. It is the rate banks use to lend money to each other and provides the basis for trillions of dollars in contracts around the world; including mortgages, bonds and consumer loans.

NTSB: Plane Batteries Not Necessarily Unsafe

WASHINGTON (AP) – Despite a battery fire in one Boeing 787 Dreamliner and smoke in another, the type of batteries used to power the plane’s electrical systems aren’t necessarily unsafe — manufacturers just need to build in reliable safeguards, the nation’s top aviation safety investigator said Wednesday.

National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Deborah Hersman said she doesn’t want to “categorically” rule out the use of lithium-ion batteries to power aircraft systems, even though it’s clear that safeguards failed in the case of a Japan Airlines 787 that had a battery fire while parked at Boston’s Logan International Airport last month.

The board is still weeks away from determining the cause of the Jan. 7 fire.

Visa’s Fiscal 1q Net Income Jumps 25 Percent

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Visa’s profit jumped 25 percent in the last three months of 2012 as consumers racked up more credit card debt and used their debit cards more often.

Visa says its fiscal first-quarter net income totaled $1.3 billion, or $1.93 per share, in the three months ended Dec. 31. That compares with net income of $1.03 billion, or $1.49 per share, a year earlier.

CVS Caremark’s 4Q Profit Rises 6 Percent

CVS Caremark’s fourth-quarter earnings climbed 6 percent, as revenue from its established drugstores grew and new customers helped its pharmacy services.

Overall, one of the nation’s largest drugstore chains said revenue rose nearly 11 percent in the quarter to $31.4 billion, even though a wave of generic drugs recently has hurt topline growth for drugstores and pharmacy benefits managers, which run prescription drug plans for employers, insurers and other customers.

FDA Warns of New Fake Batch Of Cancer Drug Avastin

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Food and Drug Administration is warning U.S. doctors about another counterfeit version of the cancer drug Avastin, the third case involving the best-selling Roche drug in the past year.

The FDA said in an online post Tuesday that at least one batch of the drug distributed by a New York company does not contain the active ingredient in real Avastin, which is used to treat cancers of the colon, lung, kidney and brain. The drug was distributed by Medical Device King, which also does business as Pharmalogical. The vials are packaged as Altuzan, the Turkish version of Avastin that is not approved for use in the U.S.

The agency warned doctors in April about a similar case of fake Turkish Avastin from a U.K. distributor. A year ago the FDA announced an investigation into a batch of fake Avastin distributed to doctors in several states. Both of those cases appeared to involve different networks of distributors than the latest incident.

Coffee Slumps on Worries Over Large Supplies

(AP) – Coffee prices slid again Wednesday as investors worry about large supplies coming from South America.

Coffee for March delivery fell 1.95 cent to settle at $1.421 a pound Wednesday. The contract is down 4 percent so far this week.

Sterling Smith, commodities futures specialist at Citigroup in Chicago, said the coffee market may be close to finding a bottom.

In other trading, metals and agricultural contracts were mixed.

Gold for April delivery rose $5.30 to $1,678.80 per ounce.

Silver for March delivery edged up 0.2 cent to $31.877 per ounce. March copper slipped 2.95 cents to $3.7405 per pound.

March palladium fell 65 cents to settle at $764.80 per ounce. April platinum gained $29.30 to $1,736.50 per ounce.

In March contracts, wheat rose 4 cents to $7.615 per bushel. Corn slipped 6.5 cents to $7.225 per bushel. Soybeans edged down 8 cents to $14.875 per bushel.

Benchmark crude for March delivery fell 2 cents to end at $96.62 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It dropped as low as $95.04 in the morning.

  • Wholesale gasoline rose 0.23 cent to end at $3.0397 a gallon.
  • Natural gas added 1.9 cents to finish at $3.418 per 1,000 cubic feet.
  • Heating oil lost half a penny to end at $3.1858 a gallon.