Roundup: Americans are spending more money this summer; EPA extend hearings on coal rules; more
Americans spend more in summer on necessities
People are opening their wallets more this summer — but that extra cash isn't going to margaritas and beach excursions. It's being eaten up by bills and basic things that people need to survive, such as food, electricity and health care, according to a recent Gallup survey.
Fifty-nine percent of people reported spending more on groceries this summer than they did last year, compared to only 10 percent who said they are saving on food. In other sobering figures, 58 percent of people are spending more on gas, 45 percent are paying more for utilities and 42 percent are forking over more for health care, according to the survey.
Overall, some 45 percent of people said they are spending more money this summer than they did a year ago, compared to 18 percent who are spending less. Of course, having to spend more on things they need means people have less cash this summer to spend on the things they want.
Close to 40 percent of people reported spending less on travel, and about the same share said they cut back on going to restaurants.
EPA extends hearings on power plant rules
The Environmental Protection Agency is extending its regional hearings on proposed carbon-emission rules for power plants into two-day affairs because of increased public interest.
The agency will collect comments July 31 and Aug. 1 at the William S. Moorhead Federal Building, Downtown, one of four regional hearings on the rules it proposed last month to cut greenhouse gases from existing power plants. The other hearings are July 29 and 30 in Denver, Atlanta and Washington. “Based on the number of people responding, we thought it was necessary to provide an extra day,” said Terri White, an EPA spokeswoman in Philadelphia. The agency will run two concurrent sessions each day from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. to collect the maximum number of responses, White said.
Information on registering is available at www2.epa.gov/carbon-pollution-standards.
Alcoa coating named top innovation
Alcoa Inc. said R&D Magazine named a pre-treatment coating called Alcoa 951 as one of its 100 top technology innovations introduced in the past year.
The coating, developed by two scientists at the Alcoa Technical Center in Upper Burrell, makes aluminum stick to other materials. Alcoa has licensed the technology to enable the use more lightweight aluminum as automakers gear up to meet the federal government's 54.5 mpg target by 2025.
The magazine's R&D Awards recognize innovations introduced across industry, academia and government-sponsored research in 2013. The 52nd annual awards will be presented at an event in November in Las Vegas.
Alcoa's plant in Davenport, Iowa, has a line that applies Alcoa 951 to aluminum sheet before it is shipped to customers. The technology was co-invented by Alcoa scientists Sherri McCleary and Jim Marinelli, and has been licensed to German chemical supplier Chemetall GmbH for global distribution. Alcoa receives royalties from the license.
VW to build new SUV in Tennessee
Volkswagen plans to build a new seven-passenger SUV at its factory in Chattanooga, Tenn,, adding about 2,000 factory jobs as it tries to reverse American sales that have fallen for the past two years.
The German automaker announced on Monday that it will invest $600 million to expand the factory and set up a new research center that will employ about 200 engineers. The research facility will coordinate products for North America to quickly include customer feedback into planned and existing models, the company said. The announcement occurs after months of political wrangling over the role of organized labor at the factory, which employs about 1,500 workers and makes one model, the Passat midsize car. Production of the new SUV, based on the CrossBlue concept vehicle that debuted in Detroit last year, is scheduled to start at the end of 2016.
China indicts investigators
Chinese authorities have indicted British and American investigators hired by GlaxoSmithKline on charges of illegally obtaining and selling private information, state media reported on Monday, as the Briton blamed the pharmaceutical company for misleading and using him.
British investigator Peter Humphrey and his wife, Yingzeng Yu, a United States citizen, were charged in Shanghai's No. 1 Intermediate People's Court, the official Xinhua News Agency said.
It said this is the first time foreigners have faced such charges. Humphrey, 58, and Yu, 61, are part of an industry of investigators who help corporate clients screen potential partners and employees or watch for embezzlement and other employee misconduct.
AbbVie, Shire enter combination talks
Drugmakers AbbVie and Shire are in detailed talks about a possible combination. AbbVie again raised the deal price and gave Shire shareholders a bigger stake in the new company.
Shire says Chicago-based AbbVie is offering a cash-stock combination valued at $91.10 for each share of Shire, which is headquartered on the British island of Jersey.
The offer totals about $53.68 billion and represents an increase from AbbVie's previous proposal, which amounted to about $51 billion. Shire Plc shareholders would own about 25 percent of the combined new company, up from the 24 percent stake proposed in the most recent offer.
Poultry to dominate meat consumption
Poultry is expected to become the world's most consumed meat over the next 5 years, according to a report released by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development last week.
The world's appetite for chicken is growing faster than any other meat, while pork consumption is slowing, even in its most popular markets. “Currently, pork accounts for the greatest share in world total meat production, however, a comparatively slower growth rate through the next decade will result in it being surpassed by poultry by 2020,” the report says. Poultry is the cheapest and most accessible meat in the world. Bovine and pig meat prices are expected to well outpace those of poultry.
Other business news
• Highmark Inc. and Armstrong County Memorial Hospital extended a contract that gives Highmark insurance subscribers in-network access to the hospital in Kittanning. Highmark did not release any details of the multiyear pact.