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story.lead_photo.caption In this Aug. 3, 2017, file photo a Dollar General store is pictured in Luther, Okla. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

Arizona firm expands recall of raw beef

NEW YORK -- An Arizona company is expanding the scope of its recall of raw beef that could be contaminated with salmonella, federal officials said Tuesday.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said in a news release that a unit of Brazil's JBS is now recalling a total of more than 12 million pounds of raw beef that was shipped around the U.S. According to officials, information obtained in three additional cases of sickened patients led to the identification of other ground beef products that weren't part of the initial recall.

JBS Tolleson in Arizona already recalled about 7 million pounds of beef in October. Health officials say all the products up for recall have the USDA inspection number "EST. 267."

The products were packaged between late July and September. The USDA says all the potentially tainted products have been removed from retailer stores. But the agency says people still may have products in their freezers that should be thrown away.

There were 246 illnesses reported from 25 states as of mid-November, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. All of them started between August and mid-October. While 59 people have been hospitalized, no deaths have been reported.

Most people recover from salmonella infections without treatment, health officials say. If exposed to the bacteria, people typically get diarrhea, abdominal cramps and fever in the first 12 to 72 hours. The symptoms can last up to a week.

-- The Associated Press

Higher postal fees urged for packages

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump's administration is recommending the U.S. Postal Service raise prices for shipping packages, a move that would hit online retailers such as Inc.

A Trump-appointed commission on Tuesday released recommendations for the rate increase, which an administration official said would affect most commercial shippers. The report didn't say how much the Postal Service should increase its prices.

Trump created the panel after repeatedly criticizing Amazon, which he has accused of contributing to the Postal Service's financial losses through shipping deals the president claims are unprofitable. Postal Service representatives have said their confidential shipping agreement with Amazon is profitable.

The Postal Service "is on an unsustainable financial path which poses significant financial risk to American taxpayers," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, chairman of the panel, said in a statement.

Although the Postal Service can't legally deliver packages for less than its delivery costs, Trump has claimed that Amazon was "costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy," a situation that puts "many thousands of retailers out of business."

Amazon uses the Postal Service to complete what's called the "last mile" of delivery. The company didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

-- Bloomberg News

Microsoft boosts rural broadband push

REDMOND, Wash. -- Microsoft Corp., which last year announced a plan to take broadband to 2 million people in the rural U.S., is boosting the program to reach another 1 million customers across more states.

The Microsoft Airband Initiative will now be in 25 states by this time next year, more than doubling the program's original reach and adding states including California, Indiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and West Virginia. The company, the world's largest software maker, plans to reach the 3 million total customers by July 2022.

After years of focusing efforts on developing markets around the world, Microsoft turned its attention closer to home after the 2016 presidential election showed how far rural parts of America had fallen behind cities in reliable, fast connectivity. Estimates by the Federal Communications Commission that 25 million Americans can't get broadband Internet access are too low, Microsoft said. And without it, people in rural communities can't start or run a modern business, take an online class or digitally transform their farm, according to the Redmond, Wash.-based company.

The latest data from the Pew Research Center put the number of Americans that don't use broadband at home at about 113 million people, Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith said in a blog post. While those numbers measure different things, the disparity led Microsoft to do its own research, and the company said that work "suggests that the Pew numbers are far closer to the mark," Smith wrote.

-- Bloomberg News

Profit warning hits Dollar General stock

NEW YORK -- Dollar General Corp. reported a boost in third-quarter profit that met Wall Street expectations, but it expects lingering costs from hurricane season to cut into finances for the remainder of the year.

The warning over costs and a trimmed outlook weighed on shares. The stock fell $7.60, or 6.8 percent, to $104.10 in trading Tuesday.

The discount retailer's profit jumped 32 percent to $334.1 million, or $1.26 per share, matching Wall Street forecasts. Revenue jumped 8.7 percent to $6.42 billion in the period, beating Street forecasts for $6.39 billion in sales.

Same-store sales -- or sales in stores open at least a year, a key measure of a retailer's health -- jumped 2.8 percent as customers spent more per visit. Analysts polled by FactSet expected a 2.4 percent boost in same-store sales.

The Goodlettsville, Tenn.-based retailer operates more than 15,000 stores across 44 states.

-- The Associated Press

Trade war cuts Tesla's Chinese revenue

PALO ALTO, Calif. -- China is crucial to Tesla's future, and the trade war is hitting the company hard.

China is Tesla's largest market outside the U.S., accounting for about 10 percent of total revenue in the first three quarters of 2018 -- and the Model 3, the company's least expensive vehicle, isn't even available there yet.

The company sold about 15,000 of its more expensive Model S and Model X models in China last year, according to estimates from research firm LMC Automotive.

The country raised the tariff on U.S. car imports to 40 percent in July from the 15 percent it charges on non-U.S. auto imports, in retaliation for U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods. Since then, Tesla's China revenue has plummeted -- 27.5 percent in this year's third quarter compared with the same period last year, according to company reports.

-- Los Angeles Times

Business on 12/05/2018

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