Google looks at expanding fiber network

Google Inc. may expand its ultrafast Internet service into Southern California and Kentucky for the first time. The preliminary plan aims to bring the Google Fiber service to San Diego; Irvine, Calif.; and Louisville, Ky. Google still must work out the logistics with government leaders before reaching a final decision on whether those three cities will join 24 other U.S. cities that already have or are scheduled to get a service that promises to deliver online content at one gigabit per second. That's up to 100 times faster than existing Internet services. Prices for Google Fiber are comparable to or below what most households already pay for Internet access. The service typically costs about $70 per month for just high-speed Internet service.

Initial jobless claims slid slightly last week

Fewer Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, keeping this key indicator of labor market health near historic lows. The Labor Department said weekly applications for unemployment benefits dropped 6,000 to a seasonally adjusted 275,000. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, increased 500 to 275,750. Benefit applications had risen 11,000 in the previous week to 281,000. But even that temporary uptick left benefit claims, a proxy for layoffs, below the 300,000 mark. Applications have been below that level for the past six months, a stretch last seen 42 years ago.

GE to sell transportation finance division

General Electric said it will sell its transportation financing unit as it continues to pare down its lending division to focus on its industrial businesses. BMO Financial Group will buy the GE Capital division, which provides financing to equipment makers, dealers and users of medium- and heavy-duty commercial trucks and trailers. The companies did not disclose exact terms of the deal, but GE said it will add $700 million to a fund it wants to use to buy back stock. GE said it expects to complete the sale in December. General Electric has been making a push to focus on industrial businesses — making large, complicated equipment for other companies — and shrinking its other businesses.

Silicon Valley sex bias suit won't be appealed

The woman who lost her high-profile gender discrimination lawsuit against a Silicon Valley venture capital firm said she is dropping her appeal and ending the case that became a flashpoint for inequality in the technology industry. Ellen Pao said in a statement that she cannot afford the risk of incurring additional costs to fight Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. A jury in March found that the firm did not discriminate or retaliate against Pao when it fired her in 2012. Pao's lawsuit went to trial amid an ongoing discussion about gender inequity at elite technology and venture capital firms, where women are grossly underrepresented.

Exelon to keep 2 nuclear plants running

Exelon Corp. said it will put off a decision to close two of its Illinois nuclear plants for at least a year after receiving a financial windfall by promising power to the electric grid for years to come. The announcement comes after the Chicago-based company had been threatening for months that it might have to close the plants because of dwindling profits, while at the same time lobbying state lawmakers for legislation that was expected to bring in hundreds of millions of dollars to help those facilities. Over the past few weeks, however, a series of power auctions, known as "capacity auctions," have positioned Exelon to receive an additional $1.2 billion.

Mondelez plans more healthy snacks

Mondelez, the company behind the Oreo and Cadbury brands, says that it plans to have 50 percent of its portfolio contain healthy snacks within the next five years. Healthy snacks currently comprise more than a third of its total revenue, according to Executive Vice President and Chief Growth Officer Mark Clouse. Major food companies, such as Kellogg, General Mills and others, are shifting from foods that are perceived by some consumers as too processed to options that are considered healthier.

Ireland's Primark opens first U.S. store

Irish clothing retailer Primark, which specializes in trendy, low-priced apparel, opened its first U.S. location in a historic building that once housed one of Boston's most venerable department stores. The Dublin-based company is the latest store to occupy the grand Beaux Arts building that was once home to Filene's Department Store in the heart of the city's Downtown Crossing shopping district. Boston was the logical place for Primark's first U.S. store because of its deep cultural ties to Ireland and Irish immigrants, said Breege O'Donoghue, the company's director of business development.

NEWS SERVICES