Monsanto eliminating 1,000 more jobs
Monsanto said Wednesday it will eliminate another 1,000 jobs as it expands a cost-cutting plan designed to deal with falling sales of biotech-corn seeds and other financial headwinds. The additional layoffs will bring the agriculture giant’s total planned cuts to 3,600 jobs over the next two years, or about 16 percent of its global workforce. In October the company first announced the restructuring plan, intended to streamline its sales, research and development and other operations. The St. Louis-based company says the restructuring will cost between $1.1 billion and $1.2 billion to implement, up from previous estimates of $850 million to $900 million. By the end of fiscal 2018, the company expects the changes to generate annual savings of $500 million.
Netflix makes debut in 130 countries
Netflix has already crossed off the biggest item on its New Year’s list of resolutions. The Internet video service debuted in 130 countries Wednesday in a surprise move likely to reel in millions of new subscribers. CEO Reed Hastings revealed the scope of Netflix’s expansion at the end of a presentation in Las Vegas at CES, one of the technology industry’s marquee events. The news caught almost everyone off guard because Netflix had previously set a goal of being available in most of the world by the end of this year. It looked like the Los Gatos, Calif., company had plenty of work ahead it because it ended December in 60 countries. Now, Netflix is available in 21 different languages and streaming in just about every market that it had in its sights, with the notable exception of China, the world’s most populous country.
Trade deficit narrowed in November
The U.S. trade deficit dropped to the lowest level in nine months in November as exports fell to a nearly four-year low. The November deficit fell 5 percent to $42.4 billion, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday. Exports contracted 1.6 percent to $182.2 billion, the smallest monthly total since January 2012. Imports were also down, shrinking 1.7 percent to $224.6 billion. The import declines in 2015 reflected the big drop in global oil prices. American manufacturers have been hurt by a strong dollar, which makes their products more expensive on overseas markets. They are also contending with economic weakness in some of their biggest export markets including Europe and China.
Factory orders slip a bit in November
Orders to U.S. factories declined in November for the third time in the past four months. A key category that tracks business investment fell as well. Factory orders dipped 0.2 percent in November after a 1.3 percent increase in October, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. A closely watched category that serves as a proxy for business investment plans fell 0.3 percent. For November, orders for long-lasting durable goods — everything from airplanes to refrigerators — were flat after a 2.8 percent increase in October. Demand for nondurable goods, such as paper, chemicals and food, fell 0.4 percent in November after dropping 0.2 percent in October. The decline of 0.3 percent in the investment category followed a 0.6 percent increase in October.
Panera Bread switches to ‘clean’ soup menu
Panera Bread’s soups are now without artificial colors or preservatives, making it the first national chain to make the switch to a “clean” soup menu, the company said Wednesday. Panera, based in suburban St. Louis, sells 200 million servings of soup annually. Last May, Panera announced it planned to eliminate more than 150 artificial preservatives, sweeteners, colors and flavors from its food by the end of 2016. Panera’s list of ingredients removed from its food includes benzoic acid and lard. In addition to its 1,946 restaurants, the company also sells packaged refrigerated soup at 10,000 club and grocery stores.