Business Briefs – October 6, 2016

Wal-Mart Plans to Slow New Store Openings, Invest in Online

NEW YORK (AP) – Wal-Mart Stores Inc. says it plans to slow its new store openings and pour more money into its online efforts, technology and store remodels.

The world’s largest retailer completed its more than $3 billion buyout of the fast-growing online retailer last month, showing how heavily it’s willing to invest to boost online sales that totaled $13.7 billion last year — still just a fraction of its annual revenue.

It also tempered its outlook, saying it anticipates fiscal 2018 earnings per share being about flat with its fiscal 2017 adjusted earnings per share.

Average U.S. 30-Year Mortgage Rate Unchanged at 3.42 Percent

WASHINGTON (AP) – Long-term U.S. mortgage rates didn’t move this week, remaining at their lowest levels since mid-July as a lure to prospective homebuyers.

Mortgage giant Freddie Mac said Thursday the average for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was unchanged from last week at 3.42 percent. The benchmark rate is down from 3.76 percent a year ago and close to its all-time low of 3.31 percent in November 2012.

The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage, popular with homeowners who are refinancing, stayed at 2.72 percent.

U.S. Farmers Make Foray Into Quinoa As Demand for Grain Grows

SEQUIM, Wash. (AP) – A small number of U.S. farmers are trying to capitalize on American eaters’ growing demand for the Andean grain, quinoa.

Americans consume more than half the global production of quinoa, which totaled 37,000 tons in 2012. Twenty years earlier, production was merely 600 tons, according to the United Nation’s Food and Agricultural Organization.

Quinoa’s nutritional punch has pushed the grain beyond health food stores and into general consumption. Yet quinoa fields are so rare in American farming that the total acreage doesn’t show on an agricultural census.

Federal Government: Mylan Has Been Overcharging for EpiPens

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) – Even the federal government is apparently paying too much for EpiPens.

The skyrocketing price of the life-saving allergy shot, which has triggered a storm of criticism, is only part of the problem. Now the federal government says Medicaid has been paying too much for EpiPens for years because the emergency shot is classified incorrectly as a generic medicine.

The federal government says EpiPen is a branded drug, which means the drug’s maker, Mylan, should have been paying the government a far higher rebate under the government’s complex pricing rules.

Mylan denies wrongdoing but could face steep penalties.