Chipotle weighs changing beef standards

After years of touting naturally raised meat, Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. is considering changing its standards to allow beef treated with antibiotics into its restaurants amid a supply shortage. The burrito seller is evaluating using meat from cattle treated with antibiotics because of illness, which currently isn't permitted to be sold in its restaurants, said Chris Arnold, a spokesman for Denver-based Chipotle, in an e-mail. The company still wouldn't use beef from animals that had been given antibiotics to prevent disease and promote weight gain, he said. The possible change in Chipotle's practices comes as U.S. beef production is projected to plunge to a 21-year low next year, threatening higher costs and making it tougher for the restaurant chain to get enough meat to fill customers' burritos.

Rising retail sales show households gaining

Retail sales rose in July for a fourth consecutive month, showing that American households are regaining momentum as employment climbs. The 0.2 percent increase in purchases followed a 0.6 percent June gain that was larger than previously reported, Commerce Department figures showed Tuesday in Washington. The numbers in the report that feed into gross domestic product climbed by the most this year, prompting some economists to boost growth estimates. More jobs and rising household wealth tied to higher home values and stock prices are boosting confidence and triggering improving sales at companies such as Michael Kors Holdings Ltd.

Paulson is mystery bidder in Steinway sale

Paulson & Co., the hedge fund owned by billionaire John Paulson, is the mystery counter-bidder that offered $38 a share to piano maker Steinway Musical Instruments, according to people familiar with the matter. The people asked not to be identified because the talks are private. The offer topped private-equity firm Kohlberg & Company's bid by $3 a share and valued Waltham, Mass.-based Steinway at about $475 million, compared with $438 million for Kohlberg's proposal, according to a company statement Monday that didn't identify the counter-bidder. Kohlberg, which disclosed its offer last month, said Tuesday it waived the right to match it.

Ford says Focus is world's top-selling car

Ford said its Focus compact remained the top-selling car worldwide in the first quarter as sales more than doubled in China. The automaker, citing data from researcher R.L. Polk & Co., said global Focus registrations rose 18 percent in the first three months of the year to 288,724. In China, Focus sales rose by 153 percent to 104,065, making it the No. 1 market for the small car, surpassing the United States. Ford sold 1.02 million of the vehicles last year.

Investigations ramp up of virtual currencies

State and federal officials are starting broad investigations of shortcomings in the oversight of upstart virtual currencies like bitcoin. The Senate's committee on homeland security this week sent a letter to all the major financial regulators and law enforcement agencies, asking about the "threats and risks related to virtual currency." These currencies, which have grown in popularity in recent years, are often used in online transactions that are not monitored by traditional financial institutions.

AOL chief apologizes for firing that went viral

Tim Armstrong, chief executive of AOL, issued an unusual apology to his entire staff Tuesday for firing an employee during an internal staff conference call Friday. A tape of the firing was leaked to media outlets and had caused a firestorm around Armstrong, who has been trying to turn AOL from a struggling portal into a viable media company. The firing of Abel Lenz took place during a conference call with more than 1,000 employees of Patch.

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