Financial
CVS Caremark plans to stop tobacco products sales PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by MICHAEL FELBERBAUM, AP Business Writers TOM MURPHY, AP Business Writers   
Wednesday, 05 February 2014 10:34

CVS Caremark is kicking the habit of selling tobacco products at its more than 7,600 drugstores nationwide as it focuses more on providing health care.

The nation's second-largest drugstore chain said Wednesday that it will phase out cigarettes, cigars and chewing tobacco by Oct. 1, a move that will cost about $2 billion in annual revenue but won't affect its 2014 earnings forecast. CVS Caremark leaders say removing tobacco will help them grow the company's business of working with doctors, hospitals and other care providers to improve customers' health.

CVS Caremark Corp. and other major drugstore chains have been adding clinics to their stores and expanding their health care focus for several years now. They've been preparing, in part, for an aging U.S. population that will need more care and for the millions of people who are expected to gain health insurance coverage under the federal health care overhaul.

Their pharmacists deliver flu shots and other immunizations, and their clinics also have been expanding the scope of care they deliver. They now help people manage chronic illnesses like high blood pressure and diabetes in addition to treating minor illnesses like sinus infections.

CEO Larry Merlo noted that chronic conditions are made worse by smoking.

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Eurozone retail sales in unexpectedly big slide PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by PAN PYLAS, Associated Press   
Wednesday, 05 February 2014 07:37

LONDON (AP) — Disappointing retail sales figures are likely to reinforce concerns at the European Central Bank that the eurozone economic recovery is failing to gain momentum at a time when inflation is stubbornly low.

A day ahead of the ECB's monthly policy meeting, official figures showed that the retail sales across the 18-country eurozone suffered their biggest drop in over two and a half years in the crucial shopping month of December.

Eurostat, the EU's statistics agency, said Wednesday that retail sales across the bloc fell by 1.6 percent in December, more than offsetting the previous month's 0.9 percent rise.

That was way worse than the 0.5 percent fall anticipated in the markets and represented the biggest monthly decline since May 2011. The drop, which means retail sales in the eurozone ended the year 0.9 percent lower than where they started, was broad-based, with the region's top-two economies faring particularly badly. Germany saw a sharp 2.5 percent monthly decline while France posted a 1 percent drop.

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Farm bill doesn't just benefit farmers PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by MARY CLARE JALONICK, Associated Press   
Wednesday, 05 February 2014 07:39

WASHINGTON (AP) — It isn't just farmers who will benefit from the sweeping farm bill that Congress has sent President Barack Obama. There's also help for rural towns, grocery stores in low-income areas and, most notably, the nation's 47 million food stamp recipients.

After years of setbacks, the Senate passed the nearly $100 billion-a-year measure Tuesday on a 62-38 vote. The White House said the president will sign the bill Friday in Michigan, home state of Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow.

Farmers in every region would still receive generous subsidies — from Southern peanut growers to Midwest corn farmers and dairies around the country. The support is designed to provide a financial cushion in the face of unpredictable weather and market conditions.

But the bulk of its cost is for the food stamp program, which aids 1 in 7 Americans. The bill would cut food stamps by $800 million a year, or around 1 percent.

House Republicans had hoped to reduce the bill's costs even further, pointing to a booming agriculture sector in recent years and arguing that the now $80 billion-a-year food stamp program has spiraled out of control. The House passed a bill in September that would have reduced the cost of food stamps five times more than the eventual cut.

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Google makes more concessions in EU antitrust case PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by Associated Press   
Wednesday, 05 February 2014 07:37

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union's antitrust watchdog says Google is offering new and far-reaching concessions to address allegations it is abusing its dominant position in Internet searches.

The EU's executive said Wednesday that Google guarantees it will display results from three competitors in a similar way whenever it promotes its own specialized search services like Google shopping.

Antitrust Commissioner Joaquin Almunia says this "provides users with a real choice between competing services presented in a comparable way."

He says Google's offer of concessions, its third, will be sent to the plaintiffs for evaluation before the Commission makes a final decision on a settlement in the case opened in late 2010.

Google has a market share of about 90 percent of Internet searches in Europe, compared with around 70 percent in the U.S.


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