Business Briefs – November 19, 2017

VA Exploring Idea of Merging Health System With Pentagon

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Department of Veterans Affairs is exploring merging its health system with the Pentagon’s as part of its effort to expand private health care. The agency says the proposal would provide better care for veterans and save money, But veterans groups say it could threaten the viability of VA hospitals and clinics.

U.S Home Construction Reaches Strongest Pace in a Year

WASHINGTON (AP) – Construction of new homes climbed 13.7 percent in October. That’s the biggest jump in a year as builders broke ground on more apartments and single-family houses. The Commerce Department says the monthly gain put U.S. housing starts at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.29 million units. Apartment construction jumped 37.4 percent in October, while the building of single-family houses increased 5.3 percent.

Climate Talks Wrap Up With Progress on Paris Rulebook

BONN, Germany (AP) – Global talks on curbing climate change have wrapped up, with delegates and observers claiming progress on several key details of the 2015 Paris accord. The two-week negotiations focused on a range of issues.

Report Shows Takata Recall Still Moving Slowly

DETROIT (AP) – A new report issued Friday says auto companies have replaced only 57 percent of potentially deadly Takata air bag inflators, even though recalls have been underway for more than 15 years. The report by an independent monitor appointed to keep tabs on the recalls also says that auto companies are only about halfway toward a Dec. 31 goal of 100 percent replacement of older and more dangerous inflators.

EU Leaders Warn Broadening Of Brexit Talks Could Be in Doubt

GOTEBORG, Sweden (AP) – European Union leaders have warned Britain that it must do much more to convince them that Brexit talks should be broadened to cover future relations and trade from next month onward. At an EU summit in Sweden, Prime Minister Theresa May’s government was urged to clarify how much Britain will pay to settle its financial accounts with the bloc and to ensure that there is no hard border created between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Keystone Pipeline Leak Won’t Affect Nebraska Ruling

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) – Discovery of a 210,000-gallon oil spill from the Keystone pipeline that critics say demonstrates the risks of energy transport to the environment, will not affect Nebraska regulators’ decision next week on an expansion of the system because they are not allowed to consider pipeline safety, a state official said Friday.

Florida Regains Jobs in Recovery From Hurricane Irma

(Sun Sentinel/TNS) – Employment levels in Florida recovered in October, the state said Friday, after September’s Hurricane Irma, which sharply reduced that month’s payroll count.

“Getting a report that’s very normal is a good sign. The South Florida economy is bouncing back and that’s exactly what we want to see,” said Mekael Teshome, Florida economist for PNC Bank.

He said the region’s leisure and hospitality jobs even rose.

More Turmoil in Wells Fargo’s Upper Ranks as Lending Executive Is Fired

(The Charlotte Observer-TNS) – In the latest shake-up in its executive ranks, Wells Fargo said Friday that it fired the head of its consumer lending unit, effective immediately.

Franklin Codel, based in Des Moines, Iowa, was terminated for “acting in a manner that was contrary to the company’s policies and expectations of its senior leaders during a communication he had with a former team member,” Wells said in a statement.