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GM value suits sent to New York

Lawsuits alleging that General Motors cars lost value because of ignition switch recalls will be heard in a New York City federal court.

A panel of judges sitting in Chicago made the decision Monday.

U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman will hear the cases. A panel on multidistrict litigation says it knows of 74 lawsuits in 31 federal courts.

The lawsuits allege that the older small cars dropped in value after the ignition switch recalls were announced starting in February. GM has admitted knowing about the problem for at least a decade before the recalls.

The panel says in an order that New York is the best place to hear the cases because GM’s 2009 bankruptcy case was there. Furman handled appeals and is familiar with the GM case.

Growth to pick up, economists predict

U.S. economic growth should accelerate in the second quarter and remain healthy for the rest of this year, according to a forecast by a group of U.S. business economists. Still, growth for the full year will likely come in lower than they previously estimated.

Job growth should remain steady and consumer spending will also likely pick up, a survey by the National Association of Business Economists said Monday. The survey of 47 economists from companies, trade associations and academia was conducted from May 8 to May 21.

The survey also found that economists increasingly agree that the Federal Reserve will end its bond purchase program by the end of this year.

That’s partly because economists are optimistic about growth for the rest of this year.

Merck taps developer for hepatitis C drugs

Merck & Co. will spend about $3.85 billion for Idenix Pharmaceuticals Inc., a small company developing hepatitis C medicines that, together with Merck’s experimental drugs, could produce lucrative combo therapies that quickly cure most patients with the blood-borne virus afflicting tens of millions.

The price for the deal announced Monday – a per-share bid more than triple Friday’s closing price for Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Idenix – seems high. However, the latest hepatitis C medicines command high prices, the number of patients keeps rising and Merck was bidding against rivals.

Hepatitis C has become one of the hottest categories in drug research as companies race to develop a combination therapy without injections and debilitating side effects.

McDonald’s Asia gains offset slow US sales

McDonald’s Corp., the world’s largest restaurant chain, said sales at stores open at least 13 months rose 0.9 percent in May as a gain in Asia helped cushion a prolonged slump in the United States.

Analysts estimated a 0.8 percent increase, the average of 15 estimates from Consensus Metrix. In the U.S., sales fell 1 percent, Oak Brook, Illinois-based McDonald’s said in a statement Monday. Analysts estimated a 0.1 percent gain.

McDonald’s, which gets more than 30 percent of revenue from U.S. locations, has struggled to attract Americans after slowing its kitchen last year with too many new and complex items.

The chain also has faced more domestic competition as Burger King advertises discounts and Taco Bell sells new breakfast items, such as Cinnabon bites and waffle tacos.