Business Briefs – May 1, 2016

Eurozone Economy Regains Size Of 2008 but Remains Shaky

LONDON (AP) – The eurozone economy is finally back to the size it was before the global financial crisis.

The 19-country currency union, which as a bloc is the world’s second-largest economy, enjoyed an unexpected acceleration in the first three months of the year, expanding by a quarterly rate of 0.6 percent, official figures showed Friday.

That means the economy is now bigger than it was at the start of 2008, before the financial crisis triggered the deepest global recession since World War II. However, the region still has far to go to heal fully.

Exxon Sees Smallest Profit in 16 Years, Chevron Posts Loss

DALLAS (AP) – Motorists are saving billions on cheaper gasoline, but the long slump in oil prices is taking a heavy toll on companies that find and produce crude.

Exxon Mobil posted its smallest quarterly profit in more than 16 years Friday, while Chevron lost $725 million, its worst showing since 2002. Chevron also raised the number of jobs it expects to cut this year from 7,000 to 8,000. Other oil companies are expected to report weak earnings in the next few days.

First Widely Available Zika Test OK’d for Emergency Use

WASHINGTON (AP) – The first commercial test for the Zika virus has been cleared for emergency use in the U.S.

The Food and Drug Administration granted the authorization Thursday to the test’s developer, Quest Diagnostics, which said it would make it widely available to doctors for patient testing as early as next week.

Eventually the test could be expanded to several dozen other Quest laboratories throughout the U.S. and in Puerto Rico. Previously, Zika tests were only available through a handful of government-designated laboratories.

U.S. Places 5 Countries On Trade Monitoring List

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Treasury Department has placed five countries — China, Japan, Germany, South Korea and Taiwan — on a new monitoring list designed to pressure foreign governments to tackle large trade imbalances with the United States.

The action was disclosed in a report the administration sent to Congress on Friday. The report, which by law the Treasury must submit to Congress every six months, does not designate any nation as a currency manipulator. But the Treasury did say it is employing new tools to more closely monitor actions of countries with which the United States is running large deficits.

Under criteria Congress established earlier this year, the Treasury put the countries on a monitoring list that will trigger talks but no economic penalties. However, if the discussions fail, the countries could face a greater threat of sanctions in the future.

First Drug for Delusions In Parkinson’s Patients Approved

WASHINGTON (AP) – Federal health officials have approved an experimental drug to treat psychotic delusions and behaviors that often afflict patients with Parkinson’s disease, the debilitating movement disorder.

The drug from Acadia Pharmaceuticals Inc. is the first drug for the condition, which affects approximately half of Parkinson’s patients. An estimated 50,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s each year, making it the second-most common neurodegenerative disease in the U.S.

U.S. Consumer Spending Inches Up in March

WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. consumers boosted their spending by a tiny amount in March as purchases of nondurable goods offset a big fall in spending on autos and other long-lasting items.

Spending edged up 0.1 percent last month after a 0.2 percent rise in February, the Commerce Department reported Friday. Incomes rose a solid 0.4 percent.