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Reports of overture boost Amerisource

NEW YORK -- Shares of AmerisourceBergen soared Tuesday on reports that Walgreens is pursuing a complete takeover of the huge drug distributor.

The Wall Street Journal reported late Monday that Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. reached out to AmerisourceBergen Corp. about a potential deal several weeks ago. The paper, citing anonymous sources, said no offer is on the table. Walgreens already owns about 26 percent of the company, according to data provider FactSet.

AmerisourceBergen Corp. shares jumped more than 9.3 percent, to $97.77, while broader indexes slipped in late morning trading. Shares of Walgreens were down 17 cents to $68.29.

Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. runs more than 13,200 stores in 11 countries, and is the largest U.S. drugstore chain. In September, it said it would spend $4.38 billion to buy nearly 2,000 Rite Aid stores and some distribution centers and inventory.

Adding the rest of AmerisourceBergen would give the company a tighter grip on its supply chain. Walgreens is facing increased competition both from inside the sector and potentially imposing new rivals such as Amazon.com Inc.

-- The Associated Press

Prices moving higher for lobster, beef

Increased demand and low supply have raised the prices of lobster tails and filet mignon, meaning pricier orders of surf 'n' turf.

The cattle industry's seasonal inventory lows and an uptick in date-night demand have historically driven wholesale tenderloin prices higher around Valentine's Day, according to market research group Urner Barry.

William Hahn, an economist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service, said average beef prices are on an upswing in February and tend to peak in late spring, just before Memorial Day.

The average price of tenderloin this week is up 11 percent to $10.03 a pound from the same time last year, Urner Barry data show.

American lobster tail average wholesale prices surged almost 30 percent to $23.50 per pound this week compared with year-ago figures. The market for 7- to 8-ounce lobster tails has doubled over two years to demand not seen since 2008, according to Urner Barry.

Analysts said the tighter lobster supply, which sparked this year's price jump, is attributable to smaller catches and aggressive Chinese buying.

-- Nathan Owens

Fort Smith factory to shut, take 20 jobs

Michigan-based Unique Fabricating Inc. said Tuesday that it's closing down its Fort Smith manufacturing location, costing 20 workers there their jobs.

The Fort Smith operation is expected to close in June, according to a news release. Workers will be provided severance and transition assistance, the company said in a news release. The plant's production will be moved to the company's Evansville, Ind., and Monterrey, Mexico, operations.

Unique Fabricating Inc. makes foam, rubber and plastic components used in the automotive and appliance market.

The company plans to sell the facility after it closes. Its book value is estimated at $700,000, according to the release.

-- John Magsam

Apple chief dodges dividend question

CUPERTINO, Calif. -- Apple's next big thing will likely be a large dividend increase financed by a tax cut on its overseas profits, but the famously secretive company isn't giving any clues about how big it might be.

CEO Tim Cook had an opportunity to address the issue Tuesday at Apple's annual meeting, when a shareholder asked whether the iPhone maker might double its current quarterly dividend of 63 cents per share.

Not surprisingly, Cook dodged the question, rising from his seat because he said it suddenly felt "a little hot." He all but guaranteed that Apple's board will raise the dividend in April, as it has done each year since the company reinstated the shareholder payments in 2012. But he didn't give any other specifics.

Apple's annual dividend increases have ranged from 8 to 15 percent since the payment was reinstated at a split-adjusted 38 cents per share nearly six years ago.

Cook dismissed the possibility of a one-time payment known as a special dividend, saying he didn't think that form of distribution "really helps the company or shareholders."

-- The Associated Press

Consumer debt climbs to $13.1 trillion

American households' outstanding debt climbed to an all-time high of $13.1 trillion in the October-December period, according to data released Tuesday by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. It marked the fourth straight quarter in which borrowing reached a record.

Debt balances increased from the previous quarter in all but one category, including a 3.2 percent gain in credit-card borrowing that was the second-largest since 2007 and a record level of auto loans. At the same time, 7.55 percent of credit-card balances were in serious delinquency -- those 90 days or more past due. The overall share of 90-day delinquent loans fell from 3.19 percent to 3.12 percent on declines in the levels for mortgages and student loans.

-- Bloomberg News

Business on 02/14/2018

Print Headline: Reports of overture boost Amerisource Prices moving higher for lobster, beef Fort Smith factory to shut, take 20 jobs Apple chief dodges dividend question Consumer debt climbs to $13.1 trillion

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