Stocks mixed as Wall St. worries about insurers
NEW YORK — Wall Street closed mixed Wednesday as concerns about the financial sector eroded enthusiasm over a $2.01-per-barrel decline in oil prices and an Institute for Supply Management report that signaled modest growth in the service economy.
The latest worries flared after Moody's Investors Service warned it might downgrade its ratings on bond insurers Ambac Assurance and MBIA Insurance. Such a move could increase borrowing costs for cities and counties already struggling with lower tax revenue amid the housing crisis and weak economy.
Some investors looking to sidestep the financial sector moved into technology stocks, giving the Nasdaq the only advance among major indexes.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 12.37, or 0.10 percent, to 12,390.48. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 0.45, or 0.03 percent, to 1,377.20. The Nasdaq composite index rose 22.66, or 0.91 percent, to 2,503.14.
Jam giant JM Smucker to buy P&G's Folgers coffee
NEW YORK — J.M. Smucker is buying Folgers coffee from Procter & Gamble in an all-stock deal worth about $2.95 billion. The jam maker also will assume about $350 million of Folgers' debt. The deal is expected to close in late 2008.
Tim Smucker, chairman and co-chief executive, said the merger of Folgers with Smucker's breakfast and dessert brands opens opportunities for cross-marketing strategies. They could include, for example, adding a Jif peanut butter coupon in a Folgers can.
Report: Verizon Wireless, Alltel discussing buyout
NEW YORK — Verizon Wireless is in talks to buy Alltel Communications LLC, the country's fifth-largest wireless carrier by subscribers, for $27 billion, according to business news channel CNBC.
The report cited unnamed sources. Verizon Communications Inc. and Alltel had no comment.
Verizon Wireless, a joint venture of Verizon Communications and Vodafone Group PLC of Britain, has a call center in North Charleston.
Walgreen reaches deal to settle prescription suit
CHICAGO — Walgreen Co. has agreed to pay $35 million to settle a lawsuit alleging it boosted the price for prescriptions paid by Medicaid by switching from capsules to tablets, or vice versa, depending on which was more expensive.
The federal government, 42 states, including South Carolina, and Puerto Rico will share the $35 million, officials said. The whistleblower who filed the suit will get about $5 million of that amount.
Engineering firm plans to expand in the Upstate
GREENVILLE — A Columbia-based engineering firm plans to hire as many as 35 staffers, about half of them engineers, at its new Upstate operation in Greenville County.
BP Barber has leased about 5,000 square feet for its office in Mauldin and expects to open next month. The firm has about 200 employees in offices in Columbia, Charleston, Florence, Savannah and Charlotte. BP Barber provides consulting and engineering services to municipalities and businesses in those areas.