FTC looking into Herbalife's practices

Herbalife Ltd. says that it is facing an inquiry from the Federal Trade Commission. The nutrition and supplement company's shares initially plunged more than 12 percent following a brief halt in trading pending the announcement. Herbalife said that it received the civil investigative demand from the FTC. The FTC's website says that these are used to investigate possible "unfair or deceptive acts or practices." A representative from the FTC was not immediately available to elaborate. The company, which has faced accusations of operating a pyramid scheme, said that it welcomes the inquiry given the "tremendous amount of misinformation in the marketplace" about its business. Herbalife says it believes it is in compliance with all laws and regulations and plans to cooperate fully.

Cash bonuses on Wall Street rise 15 percent

On Wall Street, profits are down and the number of workers is shrinking. But bonuses continue to grow larger. Cash bonuses paid to Wall Street employees in New York rose 15 percent on average last year, to $164,530, according to a report from Thomas DiNapoli, the state comptroller. That was the biggest average bonus since 2007, the year before the financial crisis struck. Overall, workers in the financial industry in the city made $26.7 billion in bonuses last year, a number that, again, was the highest level since the crisis. The bonus figures encompass everyone from the low-ranking employee to the chief executive, so high payouts to top managers can bring up the average.

As profits rise, Toyota raises wages in Japan

Toyota agreed to increase base wages in Japan for the first time since 2008 as the nation's largest company heads for record profits. The average Toyota Motor Workers' Union member will earn 2,700 yen ($26) more in base pay per month, Senior Managing Officer Naoki Miyazaki told reporters. That's 0.8 percent of last year's average salary and below the 4,000 yen the union was asking for. While a weaker yen has helped Toyota forecast a record 1.9 trillion yen profit for the year ending March 31, the raise comes as Japanese companies brace for next month's sales tax increase, the first in 17 years.

Court throws out Pfizer's patent for Celebrex

A federal court invalidated the key patent for one of Pfizer's most lucrative medicines, potentially opening the door for cheaper generic versions 18 months sooner than expected and cutting into the drugmaker's profit. Pfizer Inc., still trying to make up for the loss of about $7 billion in annual sales since generic competition hit its cholesterol fighter Lipitor in December 2011, could lose a couple of billion more if the court decision on the Celebrex patent stands. The world's second-biggest drugmaker said it disagrees with the ruling and will "pursue all available remedies," including immediately appealing Wednesday's ruling by U.S. District Judge Arenda Allen in Norfolk, Va.

Groups want two chemicals out of iPhones

An environmental protection group and labor rights group are trying to pressure Apple Inc. into abandoning two hazardous chemicals used to make iPhones. Green America and China Labor Watch launched their campaign to protect the health of factory workers assembling the devices in China. The groups unveiled an online petition protesting the use of benzene and n-hexane in the production of iPhones. Benzene is a carcinogen that can cause leukemia if not handled properly and n-hexane has been linked to nerve damage. Apple Inc. says it has already removed a long list of toxic chemicals.