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Briefs

GM profits slightly up stateside

General Motors spent billions last year rolling out new models to update its lineup of cars and trucks and restructuring to fix long-standing problems overseas.

The spending put a dent in GM’s bottom line, but the automaker posted a healthy profit as strength in North America and China offset troubles elsewhere.

GM’s net profit for the quarter rose 2 percent from a year ago to $913 million, or 57 cents per share. Revenue increased 3 percent to $40.5 billion. Excluding one-time items such as a $700 million charge to pull the Chevrolet brand out of Europe, GM made 67 cents per share. But analysts polled by FactSet expected 88 cents on revenue of $40.8 billion. The automaker has a truck plant in Allen County.

Homebuilders seek fewer permits

The Home Builders Association of Fort Wayne said there were 22 Allen County residential construction requests in January, compared with 44 permits the same month a year ago.

The average construction price was $209,440 in January, compared with $241,849 in January 2013, which saw a spike in construction in Perry Township, led by the Tuscany subdivision, a 156 single-family residential project.

Ex-trader convicted of insider trading

A former SAC Capital Advisors portfolio manager was convicted Thursday of helping his company earn more than a quarter billion dollars illegally through trades based on secrets about the testing of a potential breakthrough Alzheimer’s drug.

The verdict capped a three-week trial that featured testimony from two prominent doctors who confessed to spilling secrets to Mathew Martoma during lucrative consultations. When prosecutors announced the case in November 2012, they said it may be the most lucrative insider trading scheme of all time.

Trade deficit expands as exports see decline

The U.S. trade deficit widened in December after hitting a four-year low in November. But for 2013, the gap reached its lowest point since 2009 as exports rose to a record.

The trade deficit hit $38.7 billion in December, a 12 percent increase over November, the Commerce Department said Thursday. Exports slipped 1.8 percent to $191.3 billion. Imports rose 0.3 percent to $230 billion.

Productivity rate dips in fourth quarter of 13

Productivity grew at an annual rate of 3.2 percent in the October-December period, down slightly from a 3.6 percent growth rate in the third quarter, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

Labor costs fell at a 1.6 percent rate in the fourth quarter after an even bigger 2 percent rate of decline in the third quarter.

For the year, productivity rose a slight 0.6 percent, down from a 1.5 percent increase in 2012.

Rules could ensure infant formula safety

The Food and Drug Administration is laying out new requirements to ensure the safety of infant formula.

The rules announced Thursday are designed to make sure that formula manufacturers test their products for salmonella and other pathogens before they are distributed. They would also require formula companies to include specific nutrients, including proteins, fats and vitamins.

Most formula manufacturers follow these practices already.

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