Business Briefs – January 4, 2015

General Motors Invests $500 Million in Lyft, Forms Partnership

DETROIT (AP) – The automotive industry is placing its biggest bet yet that using a device to hail a ride — with or without a driver — is the future of transportation.

General Motors Co. said Monday it is investing $500 million in ride-hailing company Lyft Inc. and forming an unprecedented partnership that could eventually lead to on-demand, self-driving cars.

It’s the largest investment yet by a traditional automaker in a new mobility company, and is an acknowledgement by GM that the transportation landscape is changing fast.

GM made the investment as part of a $1 billion round of fundraising by Lyft.

Severe Sell-Off Does Not Slow Rise in Shares of Gunmakers

NEW YORK (AP) – With all major markets in a severe sell-off Monday, shares of companies that make guns surged as new data pointed to strong sales at the close of 2015, a year marked by mass shootings in Paris and California, and new political pressure to tighten regulations.

Recently released numbers from the National Instant Criminal Background Check System show that background checks jumped about 38 percent last month compared with December 2014.

First-of-a-Kind Drug Approvals Continued Rise in 2015

WASHINGTON (AP) – Approvals for first-of-a-kind drugs climbed last year, pushing the annual tally of new U.S. drugs to its highest level in 19 years. The rising figures reflect an industry-wide focus on drugs for rare and hard-to-treat diseases, which often come with streamlined reviews, extra patent protections and higher price tags.

The Food and Drug Administration approved 45 drugs with never-before-sold ingredients in 2015, edging past the previous year’s tally of 41, which had been the highest number since 1996.

FDA drug approvals are considered a barometer of industry innovation and the government’s efficiency in reviewing new therapies

Ferrari Completes Spinoff With Stock Listing in Milan

MILAN (AP) – Sports carmaker Ferrari is following up its successful Wall Street listing with a stock market launch in Milan, as it begins a new era as a stand-alone company.

The company famed for its Formula 1 racing machines and coveted red roadsters began trading Monday morning, the first business day of the year, at 43 euros ($47) under the RACE ticker. After a volatile day, the shares closed at 43.24 euros.

The listing, which comes after Ferrari made its public debut on the New York Stock Exchange in October, completes the company’s separation from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles SpA.