U.S. deficit grows
The government said the U.S. budget deficit widened in May by $139 billion. But the annual deficit stayed on track to finish below $1 trillion for the first time since 2008.
Steady economic growth and higher tax rates have boosted tax revenue. At the same time, government spending has barely increased.
With the May increase, the deficit through the first eight months of this budget year totaled $626 billion, according to the Treasury. That’s $218 billion lower than the same period last year.
Spreading its roots
Facebook on Wednesday started processing data through its first server farm outside the United States, on the edge of the Arctic Circle in Sweden.
The company inaugurated servers in about half of its new 300,000-square-foot facility outside the city of Lulea, saying it should improve the social network’s performance in Europe.
Facebook director of site operations Tom Furlong told The Associated Press that the company will expand capacity at the site gradually to serve a large chunk of Facebook’s European users.
Two generic drugmakers will pay $2.15 billion to Pfizer and Takeda Pharmaceutical to settle a patent fight over the heartburn treatment Protonix.
Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., one of the world’s largest generic drugmakers, will pay $1.6 billion and India’s Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. will pay $550 million for selling their versions of Protonix before the patent protecting the drug expired. Pfizer said it will receive 64 percent of the settlement proceeds.
General Motors said it is making progress cutting costs to improve profit margins.
The company’s product development chief, Mary Barra, told analysts that GM is saving money by using the same parts on many vehicles. It also has moved parts suppliers closer to factories to cut shipping costs. And it is building more models on the same underpinnings.
Barra said GM used to have 11 air bag systems to protect a driver’s knees. Moving to a single design should cut costs 21 percent by 2017. She said GM had 30 sets of vehicle frames in 2010. That will drop to 17 by 2018.
Chief executives for the largest U.S. companies are more optimistic about sales over the next six months and plan to add workers.
The Business Roundtable said its April-June quarterly survey found that 32 percent of its members expect to expand payrolls in the next six months, up from 29 percent in the January-March survey. And 78 percent expect their sales to increase, up from 72 percent from the previous survey.
Still, most of the CEOs don’t expect growth to accelerate. They forecast growth of 2.2 percent this year, only slightly better than the 2.1 percent forecast in the first quarter survey.
| Star news services