Buffett has early-stage prostate cancer

Warren Buffett told his company's shareholders in an open letter that he has been diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer. The 81-year-old billionaire investor and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. said his condition is "not remotely life-threatening" or debilitating. He said he and his doctors have decided on a two-month treatment plan that is to begin in mid-July. "I feel great -- as if I were in my normal excellent health," Buffett said in the letter. "And my energy level is 100 percent." Buffett said he was diagnosed April 11.

Panel maker First Solar will cut 2,000 jobs

Blaming a "fundamentally changed" solar industry and plunging business in Europe, panel maker First Solar Inc. is cutting 2,000 jobs and closing a factory. The layoffs represent 30 percent of the workforce of the Tempe, Ariz., company, which is the leading U.S. manufacturer of photovoltaic solar panels. The factory being closed is in Frankfurt, Germany. The company also will indefinitely idle four production lines at its facility in Malaysia. Some U.S. employees of the company will also be cut, though First Solar did not say how many.

Industrial production declined last month

Production at U.S. factories dropped in March for the first time in four months as the industry cooled following the strongest surge in three decades. Manufacturing, which makes up about 75 percent of industrial output, decreased 0.2 percent last month as appliance and furniture makers cut back, data from the Federal Reserve showed. The decline followed a revised 3.4 percent gain from December through February that marked the biggest three-month jump since March 1984.

Starbucks lowers its goal for reusable cups

Starbucks Corp. cut back on stores and employees during the recession, and recently it downsized an environmental goal as well. The coffee colossus once aimed by 2015 to have 25 percent of all drinks served in reusable cups -- including mugs in Starbucks stores and tumblers that customers bring in. Now it has the much humbler goal of serving 5 percent of drinks in tumblers.

Housing starts drop off after early surge

U.S. housing starts fell 5.8 percent in March to a 654,000 annual rate, a report from the Commerce Department showed, less than economists were expecting and the slowest since October. The slump was led by the volatile multifamily category, which at the same time showed a jump in permits, a proxy for future construction.

Some J&J products may not return until 2013

Efforts to fix manufacturing problems at three Johnson & Johnson plants are taking longer than expected, meaning that some over-the-counter consumer brands may not return to store shelves until next year, company executives said. Johnson & Johnson entered into a consent decree with the Food and Drug Administration last year in which it promised to overhaul operations at three of its manufacturing plants after quality problems led several products, including Pepcid Complete and Children's Tylenol, to be removed from shelves.