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Feds make profit selling shares in regional banks

WASHINGTON – The government lost about $50 million on its sale of stock in six small banks, including Banner Corp of Walla Walla, that it bailed out in the 2008 financial crisis. But the Treasury Department says the investment was profitable after counting dividends and interest.

The overall $16.6 million profit from the investment will help offset losses in the broader financial bailout, known as the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

In addition to Banner Corp., stock was sold in First Financial Holdings Inc., Charleston, S.C.; MainSource Financial Group Inc., Greensburg, Ind.; Seacoast Banking Corp. of Florida, Stuart, Fla.; Wilshire Bancorp Inc., Los Angeles; and WSFS Financial Corp., Wilmington, Del.

Grant aimed at boosting sales of club wheat flour

A milling company in the small community of Almira, Wash., has received a $99,425 grant in an effort to burnish the qualities of a variety of grain called club wheat.

Gateway Milling LLC will use the money to fund a study that might help sell more club wheat flour, which delivers different milling qualities than the region’s larger crops of soft white wheat.

Club wheat, according to Gateway, produces a low-gluten flour that is especially good for baking cakes, cookies, pancakes and other pastry items. Higher gluten varieties are best for baking traditional breads.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture grant is a match to money invested by the company, according to a press release.

Canada says it will stop coining pennies

TORONTO – Canada has announced it is scrapping the penny.

The nation’s budget says the cost of minting a penny has risen to 1.6 cents or $11 million a year.

Pennies will still be legal tender, but as they slowly vanish from circulation, prices will have to be rounded up or down.

Alliance aims to stop Medco Health buyout

An alliance of drugstores and community pharmacists has filed a federal lawsuit to stop Express Scripts Inc.’s $29.1 billion takeover of Medco Health Solutions Inc., a deal they fear would create a giant pharmacy benefits manager with too much leverage and market share.

Their complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, said the combined company could reduce its prescription drug reimbursement to retail community pharmacies “well below competitive levels” and force patients to use the U.S. pharmacy benefits managers’ mail-order business and specialty pharmacies.

Express Scripts spokesman Brian Henry declined to comment on the lawsuit.

BMW owners advised to park cars outside

DETROIT – U.S. safety regulators and BMW say owners of some 5- and 6-Series cars should park them outside until a battery cable problem can be fixed.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Thursday said BMW is recalling more than 367,000 of the cars in the U.S. from the 2004 to 2010 model years. A battery cable connector can loosen in the trunk and overheat. In extreme cases, it could lead to a smoldering fire in a trunk floor mat, according to documents posted on the NHTSA’s website.

Executive pay

Macy’s Inc. gave its CEO Terry Lundgren a pay package worth $14.5 million in 2011, a 23 percent raise from the previous year, according to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Lundgren has led the department store chain since 2003.

J.C. Penney Co. gave its new CEO, Ron Johnson, compensation worth $53.2 million in 2011, according to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.