Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Business news in brief - Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

EU approves U.S. soybeans for biofuel

BRUSSELS -- The European Union has approved imported U.S. soybeans to be used in the production of biofuels in an effort to increase such imports after last summer's trans-Atlantic meeting between President Donald Trump and his EU Commission counterpart, Jean-Claude Juncker.

The meeting was able to stave off a tariffs war on industrial goods like cars, but Juncker made a commitment to buy more U.S. soybeans.

Sales have doubled since, but mostly because of market forces. Tuesday's approval that U.S. soybeans can be used for biofuel is bound to boost sales even more.

EU Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said the decision was "new proof that the EU is delivering. ... This means that as of today it will be easier for U.S. soybeans to enter the EU market."

-- The Associated Press

Home price gains slowed in November

WASHINGTON -- U.S. home prices rose at a slower pace in November, as sales have tumbled and affordability has deteriorated for many would-be buyers.

The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-city home price index grew 4.7 percent from a year earlier, dropping off from a 5 percent annual increase in October, according to a Tuesday report.

Home sales drifted downward for much of 2018, causing homes to sit on the market longer and price growth to slip. Buyers have found it difficult to buy a home because of a shortage of properties at a median price of roughly $250,000, last year's rising mortgage rates and roughly six years of home price growth exceeding wage gains.

"Home prices are still rising, but more slowly than in recent months," says David M. Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. "The pace of price increases are being dampened by declining sales of existing homes and weaker affordability."

The Las Vegas metropolitan area posted the largest price gains at 12 percent, followed by Phoenix at 8.1 percent and Seattle at 6.3 percent. All 20 of the metro areas tracked by the index reported price gains, with Washington, D.C., posting the slowest gain at 2.7 percent.

-- The Associated Press

Set-top box firm will settle, shut down

LOS ANGELES -- The sellers of Dragon Box, a streaming device purportedly used for pirating movies and TV shows, have lost their legal battle with Netflix, Amazon and the major Hollywood studios, according to court documents filed Monday.

Carlsbad, Calif.-based Dragon Media, which sells set-top boxes that allow people to stream video from the Internet to their TVs, will shut down and pay $14.5 million to settle a lawsuit brought by a coalition of streaming services and studios, according to a proposed judgment and permanent injunction filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

The defendants, including Dragon Media president and owner Paul Christoforo and Dragon Box distributor Jeff Williams, will shut down operations within five days of the entry of the settlement, the document said.

The studios and streaming services sued Dragon Media in January 2018, saying the company induced copyright theft of a multitude of titles including Stranger Things and Deadpool. Dragon Media urged customers to use the Dragon Box streaming device for watching copyrighted movies and TV shows, the studios said. Marketing materials told users to "watch your favorites anytime for free" and "get rid of your premium channels," according to the complaint.

The case is part of a broader crackdown on the use of a popular software called Kodi, an open-source program that developers can modify with apps and add-ons that allow users to stream video from the Web. Though Kodi itself is legal and has legitimate uses, many add-ons stream unauthorized content, to the chagrin of anti-piracy advocates who say the technology enables mass copyright infringement.

-- Los Angeles Times

Hasbro wins ruling in Game of Life suit

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- It appears Hasbro is the true winner of The Game of Life.

The Providence Journal reports that a Los Angeles federal judge ruled in favor of the Rhode Island-based toy company Friday in a lawsuit over who owns the rights to the popular board game.

The widow of toy inventor Bill Markham claimed in the lawsuit that her husband was denied his legacy of creating the game, and that Reuben Klamer took full credit.

She says her husband was also cut out of more than $2 million in royalties.

Both Hasbro and Klamer argued that Markham was hired by Klamer to create a prototype for the game.

The judge said in his ruling that the creation of the game was a collective effort, and the copyright belonged to the hirer and not the worker.

-- The Associated Press

S.C. utility abandons nuclear plan

PINOPOLIS, S.C. -- The project to build two additional nuclear reactors in South Carolina is officially dead.

The State newspaper reports that Santee Cooper's board agreed Monday to give up the federal license to build the reactors at the V.C. Summer plant north of Columbia.

The state-owned utility's private partner, South Carolina Electric & Gas, told the federal government a year ago it wanted to give up its permission to build the plant.

Santee Cooper asked for more time in a long-shot effort to try and find another partner. The utility's board unanimously voted Monday to give up the license after being told there would be significant expense to keep it.

About $9 billion was spent on the plants, which never produced any power. Work stopped in the summer of 2017.

-- The Associated Press

Closure of Mississippi factory planned

OLIVE BRANCH, Miss. -- A.L.P. Lighting Components is closing a 68-worker factory in northwest Mississippi, after it sold the business to another company.

A.L.P. notified the Mississippi Department of Employment Security this month that it plans to start layoffs at its Olive Branch plant on March 8, with production ending by June 28.

The Niles, Ill., company sold part of its business making plastic for lighting fixtures to Plaskolite in November.

Plaskolite spokesman David Dennis says the Columbus, Ohio, company bought some accounts and equipment from A.L.P., but isn't taking over factories or employees. Dennis says Plaskolite is shifting production to its own plants, including a 130-employee facility in Olive Branch. Dennis says Plaskolite will hire additional employees as it increases production.

A.L.P. didn't respond to requests for comment from The Associated Press.

-- The Associated Press

Business on 01/30/2019

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