Indiana kills more than 400K affected birds
Animal health officials responding to a bird flu outbreak in southwest Indiana said crews have nearly finished killing more than 400,000 birds ordered euthanized at the 10 affected commercial poultry farms. Indiana State Board of Animal Health spokeswoman Denise Derrer said about 13,000 turkeys remaining at two farms were expected to be killed Wednesday. Derrer said the H7N8 virus had not been found in any other flocks since Saturday. The H7N8 strain is different from the H5N2 virus that led to the deaths of 48 million birds in Minnesota and other states last summer. Crews began euthanizing more than 245,000 turkeys in Indiana's Dubois County last week to prevent the virus' spread. Another 156,000 chickens at one of 10 farms also were killed because they were at high risk of contracting the virus.
Consumer prices fell in December
U.S. consumer prices fell in December and rose by the smallest amount in seven years in 2015, reflecting the toll of slumping energy costs. Consumer prices slipped 0.1 percent last month after a flat reading in November, the Labor Department reported Wednesday. For the entire year, overall inflation was up just 0.7 percent, even smaller than a 0.8 percent rise in 2014. Both years were heavily influenced by plunging energy prices. It was the weakest annual increase since a 0.1 percent rise in 2008. Core inflation, which excludes volatile energy and food costs, edged up 0.1 percent in December. That was the smallest monthly gain since August. For the full year, core inflation was up 2.1 percent after a 1.6 percent rise in 2014.
Key interest rate unchanged in Canada
Canada's central bank has kept its key interest rate unchanged. Some analysts thought the Bank of Canada might cut the rate as the economy continued to be dragged down by the plunge in oil prices. But the Canadian dollar has plummeted along with the price of oil, and the bank may not have wanted to see a further sharp decline in the currency. The trendsetting policy rate sits at 0.5 percent. Bank governor Stephen Poloz dropped the rate twice last year to absorb the impact of sliding oil prices. The bank on Wednesday also downgraded its 2016 growth projection to 1.4 percent from its fall forecast of 2 percent. Canada is the world's 11th-biggest economy.
Dow Chemical adds to paid parental leave
Dow Chemical is fattening the paid leave it gives employees after the birth of a child as it becomes the latest major U.S. employer to rethink how it treats parents. The creator of Ziploc bags and Saran Wrap said Wednesday that mothers will receive a minimum of 12 weeks of paid leave, while non-birthing parents can get two weeks. That's up from six to eight weeks and one week, respectively. This leave can be taken in the 12 months after a child's birth, and the change applies to all of the company's 53,000 employees worldwide. The chemical maker left its policy for adoptive parents unchanged. They get four weeks of paid time off and reimbursement for some expenses.
QVC Christmas ornaments recalled
Christmas ornaments sold on home shopping network QVC are being recalled after customers said they cut themselves on the aluminum ornaments and needed stitches. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said the ornaments have decorative cutouts that have sharp metal edges. The CPSC said 140 customers cut their fingers on the ornaments. Four said they needed stitches. The ornaments, called Cheryl's Jingle Bell ornaments, were sold during QVC TV programs and on the company's website between November and December. They cost $55 for a box of eight ornaments. The ornaments came in red, green, gold and silver colors and were sold with 64 cookies. About 25,000 box sets were sold. Customers should stop using the ornaments and return them to QVC for a full refund, the CPSC said.