Business in brief: U.S. trade deficit up in February
Washington – The U.S. trade deficit took a turn for the worse in February as imports swelled to meet American consumers’ renewed appetite for electronics, toys, apparel and other goods from abroad.
The larger-than-expected $39.7-billion deficit was up from a revised $37 billion in January, according to figures released Tuesday by the Commerce Department.
U.S. imports climbed 1.7 percent to $182.9 billion in February. American purchases of foreign-made consumer goods were particularly strong, jumping 3.1 percent from January to $38.1 billion. Imports of petroleum and computers also posted significant gains.
American exports of goods and services also rose in February, to $143.2 billion from $142.9 billion the month before.
Tribune Washington bureau
Intel earnings take big jump
San Francisco – Intel Corp. said Tuesday its net income in the first quarter nearly quadrupled over last year and reflected an overall bump in spending on technology by companies. The results sent Intel shares higher.
Among other things, Intel got a lift from sales of new chips for computer servers – the kind of purchase that many companies delayed in the recession.
Intel became the first major technology company to report earnings for the first quarter when it said after the market closed Tuesday that it earned $2.4 billion, or 43 cents per share, in the first three months of 2009.
Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters were expecting profit of 38 cents per share.
General Mills to use less salt
Minneapolis – General Mills Inc. says it will cut the amount of sodium by 20 percent in a number of its cereals, soups, snacks and other products by 2015.
General Mills, which makes foods such as Cheerios cereal and Progresso soup, is the latest of several major food makers to reduce the salt in its foods as regulators and consumers push for healthier products.
The company, based in Minneapolis, said Tuesday that the reductions will affect about 600 items – roughly 40 percent of its products.
Health experts say Americans eat too much salt, the vast majority of it in processed food. That excess is dangerous because salt contributes to high blood pressure.
General Mills said about 31 percent of its portfolio already is low in sodium, based on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s definition. The company has been trimming sodium for five years, including cutting the amount in Cheerios and Honey Nut Cheerios cereals by 16 percent and Chex Snack Mixes by 36 percent.
The new reductions will add to those.