Business and labor at a glance

Area bank stocks remain at $15 a share on?Tuesday

First Niles Financial remained at $8.50 a share at close on Tuesday and Cortland Bancorp stayed at $15 a share.

Genetic testing moves into world of employee health

Your employer may one day help determine if your genes are why your jeans have become too snug.

Big companies are considering blending genetic testing with coaching on nutrition and exercise to help workers lose weight and improve their health before serious conditions like diabetes or heart disease develop. It’s a step beyond the typical corporate wellness programs that many companies are using to make workers more aware of their risk factors and improve their health.

Entrepreneurs hatch hen-rental idea for eggs

MOUNT HOLLY, New Jersey – The name of Jenn Tompkins’ company sends customers into fits of laughter.

But poultry leasing has turned out to be a serious investment as more people want fresh eggs from humanely raised hens, without the responsibilities of ownership. In two years, Pennsylvania-based Rent The Chicken has expanded to three other states, plus Toronto.

The growth is not an aberration. Coop rentals are booming across the U.S. as residents in cities, suburbs and the countryside flock to the anti-factory, locally sourced food movement.

Twitter stock tumbles after revenue, outlook miss

NEW YORK – Twitter’s stock dropped sharply as the company’s revenue and outlook fell short of expectations at a time investors are looking for stronger advertising growth to make up for less-than-stellar user numbers.

The company posted a loss of $162 million, or 25 cents per share, in the January-March period. That compares with a loss of $132 million, or 23 cents per share, a year earlier. Adjusted earnings were 7 cents per share. Analysts polled by FactSet were expecting 4 cents.

Home prices accelerated in February as sales rise

WASHINGTON – U.S. home prices climbed at a faster pace in February than the previous month, driven by higher sales and a limited supply of available houses.

The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index rose 5 percent in February from 12 months earlier, S&P said Tuesday. That is up from a 4.5 percent pace in January.

Groups want review of Arctic regulatory filing

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Two groups petitioned the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday for an investigation of Royal Dutch Shell PLC and what the groups call misstatements in regulatory filings regarding the risk of a catastrophic oil spill from Arctic offshore drilling.

The petition was filed Monday by Oceana and the Abrams Environmental Law Clinic at the University of Chicago Law School.

Mike LeVine, an attorney for Oceana, argued that Shell hasn’t disclosed to investors that its response measures to a major or catastrophic spill are unlikely to work.

Consumer group sues Cigna, cites discrimination

MIAMI – A consumer advocacy group has filed a class-action lawsuit against Cigna saying a new policy discriminates against people with HIV and AIDS and violates the federal health law by requiring them to get their medications from its mail-order pharmacy.

Consumer Watchdog filed the lawsuit Monday in South Florida federal court. It says sending the drugs through the mail puts privacy at risk because packages could end up at the wrong address or be seen by others. It also says the mail is not a reliable way to ensure people get their medications on time and prevents them from interacting in person with a pharmacist. Patients who do not obtain their medications by mail must pay full price.

LG says new G4 phones will have leather backs

NEW YORK – Optional leather backs and manual camera controls are two ways LG is seeking to distinguish its new G4 phone from Apple’s iPhones and Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones.

LG’s mobile chief, Juno Cho, said a wireless trade show in Barcelona, Spain, last month confirmed LG’s belief that smartphones have become clones of one another.

Staff, wire reports

Business and labor at a glance

Bank of America returns to profit as legal costs subside

NEW YORK – Bank of America returned to a profit in the first quarter as the legal troubles that have plagued the company for several years subsided. But the bank’s primary businesses struggled as interest rates remained low.

The bank’s legal expenses, stemming from the housing bubble and financial crisis, are behind it for the moment. Those costs fell to $370 million from $393 million in the fourth quarter and were a fraction of the $6 billion a year earlier. That big hit – which pushed BofA to a loss in last year’s first quarter – stemmed from a settlement with the agency that oversees mortgage markets. BofA has paid out more than $70 billion in legal settlements since 2008 to resolve its role in the financial crisis.

CSX cuts forecast for the year after slow first quarter

OMAHA, Neb. – CSX says the railroad won’t deliver the double-digit profit growth it promised this year because coal demand remains weak.

Executives remain optimistic about the railroad’s prospects because service is improving, but they said Wednesday that mid-to-high single-digit profit growth is likely in 2015.

CSX said Tuesday that first-quarter profit grew 11 percent. While that exceeded Wall Street expectations, freight volume was lower than the company projected.

The strong dollar is hurting coal exports, metal and fertilizer shipments. And low natural gas prices have for years cut into demand for coal from utilities.

Domestic coal shipments will likely be down at least 5 percent. “We just haven’t found the bottom yet,” CEO Michael Ward said.

Toyota building plants in Mexico and China

TOKYO – Toyota plans to build new auto assembly plants in Mexico and China, ending a self-imposed 3-year break from expansion over quality concerns due to massive recalls.

Toyota Motor Corp. announced Wednesday it will invest $1 billion in the plant in the Mexican state of Guanajuato, creating 2,000 jobs to make the Corolla compact car, the company’s second-biggest seller in the U.S.

Production is to start in 2019, with annual output estimated at 200,000 vehicles. That will consolidate Corolla production for North America in that plant and Toyota’s plant in Blue Springs, Mississippi.

Nokia aims to become networks giant with deal

HELSINKI – Nokia will buy ailing French telecom company Alcatel-Lucent for about $16.5 billion through a public exchange of shares in France and the United States, in a bid to become a leading global networks operator.

Though Alcatel-Lucent has been racking up billions of euros of losses since its creation in 2006, Nokia seems to believe it can cut costs and hopes the deal will give it scale in the market of providing the networks that mobile phones use.

The Finnish company said Wednesday that the all-share transaction will be on the basis of 0.55 of a new Nokia share for every share of Alcatel-Lucent. According to the deal, Alcatel-Lucent shareholders would own 33.5 percent of the fully diluted share capital of the combined company, with Nokia shareholders owning 66.5 percent.

Federal fisheries regulators stop sardine season

GRANTS PASS, Ore. – Federal regulators on Wednesday approved an emergency closure of commercial sardine fishing off Oregon, Washington and California to prevent overfishing.

The decision was aimed at saving the West Coast sardine fishery from the kind of collapse that led to the demise of Cannery Row, made famous by John Steinbeck’s novel of the same name set in Monterey, California.

Meeting outside Santa Rosa, California, the Pacific Fishery Management Council voted to halt the current season as early as possible, affecting about 100 fishing boats. The season normally would end June 30.

Earlier this week, the council shut down the next sardine season, set to begin July 1.

The action was taken based on revised estimates of sardine populations, which found the fish were declining in numbers faster than earlier believed.

The council did not take Wednesday’s decision lightly and understood the pain the closure would impose on the fishing industry, said council member Michele Culver, representing the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Area bank stock prices show mixed results

First Niles Financial remained at $8.50 a share at close on Wednesday. Cortland Bancorp rose 24 cents, closing at $15.40 a share on Wednesday, after closing at $15.16 a share on Tuesday.

Staff, wire reports