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story.lead_photo.caption FILE- In this Feb. 6, 2019, file photo David Malpass, undersecretary for international affairs at the Treasury Department, listens to Trish Regan during "Trish Regan Primetime" on Fox Business in Washington. The Treasury official nominated by President Donald Trump to be the next president of the World Bank has cleared a major hurdle, with nominations for the position closing with no other candidates emerging. The World Bank says Malpass was the only candidate put forward by the bank's 189 member countries. (AP Photo/Sait Serkan Gurbuz, File)

Port of Little Rock sees busy February

The Port of Little Rock enjoyed another strong month in February, according to the latest data.

The port worked 47 barges last month, an 80 percent increase over the 26 the port worked in February 2018. Similarly, the port handled 72,000 tons of cargo in February, which also was 80 percent more than 32,000 tons the port handled in the same month a year ago.

Through the first two months of 2019, the docks have worked 86 barges, or 62 percent more than in the same period last year, and handled 130,000 tons of cargo, which is 60 percent more.

A factor in the year-over-year increase was high water on the Arkansas River that slowed barges in February and March last year. Still, the port enjoyed record barge activity and tonnage handled in 2018.

"2019 is off to a great start and it should prove to be one of the busiest for barge activity and tonnage handled," port Executive Director Bryan Day said.

Cargo moved so far in 2019 on the the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System, of which the Little Rock port is a part, totaled 1,677,689 tons, off 4 percent from with the same period in 2018, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers data showed.

-- Noel Oman

Walmart-Mexico, union at odds on deal

Walmart Inc.'s Mexican unit said Thursday that it reached an agreement with a labor union that will avert a threatened strike over pay. However, a union spokesman reportedly said no agreement has been signed and that a strike is still possible.

Walmart de Mexico said in a statement that it struck a deal Wednesday with the Revolutionary Confederation of Laborers and Farmworkers, offering workers an average annual pay raise of 5.5 percent. The union had sought a 20 percent raise above 2018 wage levels, plus a 4 percent sales commission, for about 8,000 workers.

However, Reuters reports that union spokesman Eduardo Miranda said workers may still strike if an agreement isn't reached by March 20.

The retailer's executives said at their annual meeting with analysts Tuesday that only about 6,500 workers represented by the union had agreed to strike. That's less than 3 percent of Walmart de Mexico's unionized workforce.

Walmart has more than 230,000 employees in Mexico, according to its corporate website.

-- Serenah McKay

Facebook data sharing draws scrutiny

Federal prosecutors are conducting a criminal investigation into data deals Facebook struck with some of the world's largest technology companies, intensifying scrutiny of the social media giant's business practices.

A grand jury in New York has subpoenaed records from at least two prominent makers of smartphones and other devices, according to two people who were familiar with the requests and who insisted on anonymity. Both companies had entered into partnerships with Facebook, gaining access to the personal information of hundreds of millions of its users.

The companies were among more than 150, including Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and Sony, that had cut sharing deals with the world's dominant social media platform. The agreements let the companies see users' friends, contact information and other data, sometimes without consent. Facebook has phased out most of the partnerships over the past two years.

"We are cooperating with investigators and take those probes seriously," a Facebook spokesman said in a statement.

It is not clear when the grand jury inquiry, overseen by prosecutors with the U.S. attorney's office for the Eastern District of New York, began or exactly what it is focusing on. Facebook was already facing scrutiny by the Federal Trade Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission. And the Justice Department's securities fraud unit began investigating it after reports that Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm, had improperly obtained the Facebook data of 87 million people and used it to build tools that helped President Donald Trump's election campaign.

-- The New York Times

Trump's World Bank pick clears hurdle

WASHINGTON -- The Treasury official nominated by President Donald Trump to be the next president of the World Bank has cleared a major hurdle, with nominations for the position closing with no other candidates emerging.

The World Bank said Thursday that David Malpass was the only candidate put forward by the bank's 189 member countries. Malpass is currently the undersecretary for international affairs at the Treasury Department.

The presidency at the global lending institution came open earlier this year when Jim Yong Kim, who had been nominated by the Obama administration, announced he was stepping down.

The World Bank said its 25-member executive board will interview Malpass in the coming days and expects a decision will be made before the bank's spring meetings, which start April 12.

Malpass, 63, has been a vocal critic of the World Bank and the IMF. However, from his position in the Treasury Department last year he helped win support for a $13 billion funding increase for the bank.

-- The Associated Press

Kroger testing self-driving cars in Texas

The Cincinnati-based grocer will now be testing its Nuro autonomous grocery delivery vehicles at two Kroger stores in Houston. The partnership with robotics company Nuro has been underway since August in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Kroger's autonomous delivery has successfully completed thousands of deliveries in Scottsdale.

"We've seen first-hand in Arizona how enthusiastic customers are about getting their Kroger groceries delivered by a Nuro self-driving vehicle," said Nuro co-founder Dave Ferguson. "Texas has been a leader in encouraging self-driving innovation, and we're excited to help deliver that future for Houston -- a dynamic, diverse, and welcoming metropolitan city that we're excited to soon explore and serve with this autonomous delivery service."

Nuro's delivery fee is $5.95 with no minimum order and shoppers can schedule same-day or next-day delivery beginning this spring in Houston with expectation to expand.

Dayton, Ohio-area cities have been working to become autonomous vehicle friendly, with both Dayton and Springboro, Ohio, in talks with the DriveOhio program to integrate autonomous technology into area commutes.

"It's always been our shared vision to scale this initiative to new markets, using world-changing technology to enable a new type of delivery service for our customers," said Yael Cosset, Kroger's chief digital officer.

-- The New York Times

Business on 03/15/2019

Print Headline: Port of Little Rock sees busy February Walmart-Mexico, union at odds on deal Facebook data sharing draws scrutiny Trump's World Bank pick clears hurdle Kroger testing self-driving cars in Texas

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