Business Briefs, December 20, 2015

Shkreli Resigns as Turing CEO After Securities Fraud Arrest

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — The pharmaceutical executive reviled for price-gouging resigned Friday as head of the drugmaker Turing Pharmaceuticals, a day after being arrested on charges of securities fraud related to a company he previously ran.

Martin Shkreli, whose arrest delighted countless people appalled by his unapologetic stance after hiking the price of a life-saving drug by 5,000 percent, is being replaced on an interim basis by Ron Tilles, according to a statement issued Friday by Turing, which is privately held.

Tilles has been chairman of Turing’s board of directors since the company was founded late last year. Turing said that Tilles will continue to hold the board chairman position as well. He has worked at numerous private equity and venture capital firms in the pharmaceutical and medical device industries over the last two decades.

Warm Weather Leaves Stores in the Cold

NEW YORK (AP) – The unseasonably warm weather has left some people feeling cold about seasonal shopping.

As temperatures in cities nationwide reach near record levels for December, the balmy weather hasn’t done anything to entice Americans to venture out and shop, which has hurt sales at stores that depend on the shopping season for up to 40 percent of their annual revenue.

Planalytics, a weather forecasting firm for retailers, estimates so far this season mall-based clothing stores have lost $343 million in sales compared with last year. That’s the largest weather-related loss since 1998 when a devastating ice storm hit parts of the Northeast.

Sales of cold-weather items have been particularly icy. Sales of women’s boots in New York, for instance, are down 24 percent for the first half of December, according to Planalytics. And First Data, which analyzes payments at stores and online, said fur sales fell 20 percent from Oct. 31 through Monday.

Painkiller Politics: Effort to Curb Prescribing Under Fire

WASHINGTON (AP) – A bold federal effort to curb prescribing of painkillers may be faltering amid stiff resistance from drugmakers, industry-funded groups and, now, even other public health officials.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was on track to finalize new prescribing guidelines for opioid painkillers in January. The guidelines — though not binding — would be the strongest government effort yet to reverse the rise in deadly overdoses tied to drugs like OxyContin, Vicodin and Percocet.

But this highly unusual move — the CDC rarely advises physicians on medications, a job formally assigned to the Food and Drug Administration — thrust the agency into the middle of a longstanding fight over the use of opioids, a powerful but highly addictive class of pain medications that rang up over $9 billion in sales last year, according to IMS Health.

U.S. Spending Bill May Aid Economy Just as Fed Is Pulling Back

WASHINGTON (AP) – Just as the Federal Reserve is pulling back slightly on the economic accelerator, Congress is pressing down a bit harder.

The spending and tax-cut package that Congress approved Friday stands to modestly boost growth next year. It could also help drive a shift away from government as a drag on economic growth to a source of potential stimulus.

JPMorgan Paying $307m to Settle U.S. Charges on Conflicts

WASHINGTON (AP) – JPMorgan Chase is paying $307 million to settle federal charges of failing to reveal conflicts of interest from steering clients into certain investments tied to its businesses.

The civil settlements were announced Friday by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. JPMorgan, the largest U.S. bank by assets, admitted wrongdoing in the settlements.

Unemployment Rates Fall in 27 U.S. States Amid Broad Hiring

WASHINGTON (AP) – Unemployment rates fell in more than half of U.S. states in November as employers stepped up hiring.

The Labor Department said Friday that jobless rates fell in 27 states, rose in 11, and were unchanged in 12 states. Employers added jobs in 35 states, while employment fell in 14. Montana’s job total was flat last month.

The widespread improvement suggests employers in most parts of the country are confident enough to hire more. Nationwide, the economy generated a robust 211,000 jobs last month and the U.S. unemployment rate remained 5 percent, a 7-year low.

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