US, Russia to revise deal
The US Department of Commerce on Friday said it had reached a draft agreement with the Russian government to revise a 13-year-old deal governing imports of hot-rolled steel. The pact raises the minimum price at which Russian hot-rolled steel can be sold in the US. The department launched the negotiations with Russia after US steel company Nucor Corp complained the 1999 agreement was out of date. Nucor and other interested parties will have a chance to comment on the deal before it is final. Those remarks are due to the Commerce Department by Friday. After a preliminary review of the 1999 “suspension agreement,” the department agreed earlier this year that prices for Russian hot-rolled steel were well below the US market.
Twinkies maker set to fold
Hostess Brands Inc, the bankrupt maker of Twinkies snack cakes and Wonder Bread, is seeking a US court’s permission to go out of business after failing to get wage and benefit cuts from thousands of its striking bakery workers. The 82-year-old Hostess, which has about US$2.5 billion in sales and is one of the largest wholesale bakers and distributors of breads and snack cakes in the US, filed the request with the US Bankruptcy Court in New York early on Friday morning. A hearing on the matter is set for tomorrow. The Irving, Texas-based company said the liquidation would mean that most of its 18,500 employees would lose their jobs. Hostess immediately suspended operations at all of its 33 plants across the US as it moves to start selling assets. Entrepreneurs on auction site eBay Inc were asking as much as US$100 for a box of 10 Twinkies on Friday morning.
Cyprus’ rating to be cut
Rating firm Moody’s said on Friday it would review Cyprus for a possible downgrade, citing dragging bailout talks with international lenders on an aid package. Just five weeks after its last ratings cut, Moody’s said the review on Cyprus’ “B3” government bond rating was due to rising liquidity risks for the eurozone country, closely linked to debt-crippled Greece. “The slow pace of negotiations with the troika and the resulting uncertainty regarding the likelihood and timing of a support package which raises liquidity risks” was a key trigger for the review, Moody’s said in a statement. The second factor was signs that Cyprus’s budget deficit “will be significantly larger than expected.” The rating firm noted that Cyprus had requested a EU bailout in June, but negotiations only began this month.
US authorities sue eBay
US authorities sued online retail giant eBay on Friday, claiming it was part of a conspiracy with software maker Intuit to refrain from hiring each other’s employees to keep salaries under control. The civil antitrust lawsuit said eBay violated antitrust laws in an agreement not to recruit or hire Intuit employees, the US Justice Department said. The suit claims then-eBay chief executive Meg Whitman and Intuit founder Scott Cook agreed to the plan, which “deprived these employees of better job opportunities.” eBay denied any violations and pledged to contest the lawsuit.