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Auto industry gets serious about lighter materials

DEARBORN, Michigan (AP) — While hybrids and electrics may grab the headlines, the real frontier in fuel economy is the switch to lighter materials.

Automakers have been experimenting for decades with lightweighting, as the practice is known, but the effort is gaining urgency with the adoption of tougher fuel efficiency standards. To meet the U.S. government's goal of nearly doubling average fuel economy to 45 mpg (19 kpl) by 2025, cars need to lose some serious pounds.

Lighter doesn't mean less safe. Cars with new materials are already acing government crash tests. Around 30 per cent of new vehicles already have hoods made of aluminum, which can absorb the same amount of impact as steel. Some car companies are teaming up with airplane makers, which have years of crash simulation data for lightweight materials.

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Tyson wins bidding war to gobble up Hillshire

NEW YORK (AP) — Tyson Foods Inc. has won a bidding war to gobble up Hillshire Brands, the maker of Jimmy Dean sausages and Ball Park hot dogs.

Tyson had been vying with rival poultry producer Pilgrim's Pride to acquire Hillshire, which wrapped up its bidding process Sunday. Tyson's final offer ended up at $63 per share, about two weeks after Pilgrim's Pride made an initial bid of $45 per share.

Pilgrim's Pride, which is owned by Brazilian meat giant JBS, said that it was bowing out of the competition.

Still, the deal is not sealed yet. It is contingent on Hillshire not going through with its offer to acquire Pinnacle Foods Inc., which makes Birds Eye frozen vegetables and Wish-Bone salad dressings. Pinnacle could allow Hillshire to do its deal with Tyson, leaving Pinnacle with a $163 million breakup fee. Or it could force Hillshire shareholders to vote on whether they'd prefer a merger with Pinnacle.

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5 things to know about Apple's stock split

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Apple's resurgent stock may have as much to do with financial engineering as the company's technological wizardry.

Monday marked Apple's first stock split in nine years, a move designed to make it more affordable to buy shares of the iPhone and iPad maker.

The manoeuvr provided a boost even before it was completed. Since the split was announced in late April, Apple's stock has climbed 25 per cent, creating more than $100 billion in shareholder wealth while the Standard & Poor's 500 edged up just 4 per cent.

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Boots on the ground: A look at World Cup cleats

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Nike, adidas, Puma and other shoemakers are all trotting out new and innovative looks for this summer's World Cup. Gone are the old-school black boots like the fabled Puma Kings worn by Pele.

Legend has it that Pele was paid $125,000 for his deal — a paltry sum by today's standards — to wear the boots starting with the 1970 World Cup. The contract was sealed in the final between Brazil and Italy when Pele asked a referee for a moment so he could tie his shoe — guaranteeing that the TV cameras were pointed at his Pumas.

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Stock market ekes out another record high

NEW YORK (AP) — Call it the ho-hum market. Another day, another record high.

News of a handful of corporate deals sent some stocks jumping Monday. And Family Dollar climbed following news that investor Carl Icahn has taken a stake in the company.

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Survey: Growth to pick up, hiring steady

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. economic growth should accelerate in the second quarter and remain healthy for the rest of this year, according to a forecast by a group of U.S. business economists. Still, growth for the full year will likely come in lower than they previously estimated.

Job growth should remain steady and consumer spending will also likely pick up, a survey by the National Association of Business Economists said Monday. The survey of 47 economists from companies, trade associations and academia was conducted from May 8 to May 21.

The survey also found that economists increasingly agree that the Federal Reserve will end its bond purchase program by the end of this year.

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Where have all the missing American workers gone?

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. unemployment rate has been on a slow downward trajectory since the Great Recession ended nearly five years ago. While the overall jobless level has dropped to non-recession levels, the number of working-age people with jobs has remained flat, and the biggest reason why could be long-term unemployed workers giving up on finding jobs.

In May, the U.S. workforce-participation rate — the combination of those with jobs and unemployed workers actively seeking them — was just 62.8 per cent, the same as the month before. Job markets have been essentially flat since October.

A key factor, nearly all agree, is the growing exodus from the job market of so-called Baby Boomers who were born roughly in the post-World War II period from 1946 to 1964, and are now at or fast approaching retirement age.

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Merck to pay $3.85B for hepatitis C drug developer

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Merck & Co. will spend about $3.85 billion for Idenix Pharmaceuticals Inc., a small company developing hepatitis C medicines that, together with Merck's experimental drugs, could produce lucrative combo therapies that quickly cure most patients with the blood-borne virus afflicting tens of millions.

The price for the deal announced Monday — a per-share bid more than triple Friday's closing price for Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Idenix — seems high. However, the latest hepatitis C medicines command very high prices, the number of patients keeps rising and Merck was bidding against rivals.

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McDonald's US sales slip again in May

OAK BROOK, Ill. (AP) — McDonald's says a key sales metric slipped again in the U.S. as it faced "ongoing broad-based challenges" in May.

The world's largest hamburger chain said U.S. sales declined 1 per cent at locations open at least 14 months. The fast-food chain has been struggling to boost sales amid heightened competition and changing eating habits. Many of its core customers are also struggling financially, which has forced McDonald's to intensify its focus on value.

Executives at McDonald's have also conceded that the chain introduced too many items too quickly last year, which led to slower service and inaccurate orders. CEO Don Thompson has said the company is working with franchisees to address those problems, in part by ensuring restaurants have appropriate staffing.

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Chesapeake Energy board approves spinoff

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Chesapeake Energy Corp. said its board has approved a previously announced plan to spin off its oilfield services business into a separate, publicly traded company.

The Oklahoma City-based oil and natural gas producer said Monday that the new company will be called Seventy Seven Energy Inc.

To separate the companies, Chesapeake shareholders will receive one share of Seventy Seven Energy for every 14 shares of Chesapeake stock they own as of June 19. No fractional shares of Seventy Seven Energy will be issued. Instead shareholders entitled to one will receive cash instead. The distribution is expected to happen June 30, after the market closes.

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Supreme Court: BP must pay claims during appeal

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court says BP must continue paying claims from a fund established after the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill while the company appeals terms of its settlement with some businesses.

The justices on Monday let stand without comment lower court refusals to halt payments while BP PLC appeals lower court rulings that businesses don't have to prove they were directly harmed by the spill to collect money.

The 5th Circuit and a district court have ruled that BP must stand by its agreement to pay such business claims without requiring strict proof that the spill caused losses.

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones Industrial average nudged up 18 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 16,943.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 1.8 points, or 0.1 per cent, to close at an all-time high of 1,951.

The Nasdaq gained 14 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 4,336.

Benchmark U.S. oil for July delivery gained $1.75 to close at $104.41 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, rose $1.29 to $109.15 a barrel in London.

Wholesale gasoline gained 5 cents to $2.98 a gallon.

Natural gas fell 7 cents to $4.65 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Heating oil rose 2 cents to $2.89 a gallon.

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