Pay for U.S. workers rises at slowest rate in 33 years

Wages and benefits paid by U.S. employers this spring rose at the slowest pace since the second quarter of 1982, the Labor Department said. The employment cost index, which tracks salaries, wages and benefits, climbed 0.2% in Q2, compared with a 0.7% gain in Q1.

N.C. student's push for vegetarian options draws global support

Elly Kirk, a North Carolina eighth-grader, has launched a campaign urging the staff at her middle school to include vegetarian lunch options. Kirk said she wants items such as beans, veggie burgers and baked potatoes added to the menu for students who prefer meatless meals. Her online petition has attracted international attention, with more than 28,000 signatures and praise from the school principal for activism.

Mortgage rates dip below 4%

Mortgage rates fell this week as global economic news pushed bond yields lower. The 30-year fixed-rate average dropped to 3.98% -- the first time it dipped below 4% in eight weeks, according to Freddie Mac.

Fresh & Easy to shutter 14 stores

Fresh & Easy has begun the process of closing 14 underperforming stores in markets including San Diego, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Arizona, a company spokesman said Friday, which will leave leave the retailer with less than 100 stores. "While recent initiatives have helped drive additional sales across the Fresh & Easy business, in the case of these locations the progress was not enough to bring their performance in line with the rest of the business," a spokesman said.

FDA proposes nutrition label with new line for added sugars

The FDA released for public comment a proposed nutrition facts label that includes a new line showing the "percent daily value" of added sugar in foods. The FDA also reopened the comment period for the overall updated nutrition facts panel that emphasizes calories and more realistic serving sizes.

Report: Retailers ready to ramp up social media spending
The Content Standard

About 6 out of 10 retailers plan to increase their spending on social media ads this year, nearly as many as will increase their search-ad budgets, according to a report from the National Retail Federation. Facebook, especially, has emerged as a key resource for retailers seeking new customers, the report notes.

Penney's new CEO takes over after 10 months in training

Marvin Ellison officially took over as J.C. Penney's CEO on Saturday, after working side-by-side with outgoing chief Myron Ullman for 10 months, a system designed to ensure a smooth transition. To meet aggressive sales and earnings goals, Ellison's first challenge will be "to maintain the current momentum, and then step it up," Deutsche Bank Analyst Paul Trussell said.

SoftBank's "Pepper" robot eyes the enterprise
Business Insider

SoftBank has debuted a robot in Japan that the company claims can read and react to human emotions tracked through a set of cameras and sensors. The consumer version of the "Pepper" robot retails for $1,650, and SoftBank plans to have an enterprise version rollout in October.

Bayer gets FDA nod to market papulopustular rosacea treatment

Bayer Healthcare's Finacea, or topical azelaic acid 15% foam, has obtained FDA approval for use in treating inflammatory papules and pustules in patients with mild to moderate rosacea. The decision was based on two clinical trials that showed the drug effectively decreased inflammatory lesion count after a 12-week treatment period, compared with a vehicle control.

DIRECTV in hand, AT&T readies first nationwide TV, wireless bundle

AT&T is promoting a $200 monthly cellphone and TV Everywhere bundle that it plans to offer throughout the U.S. -- marking the first fruits of its merger with DIRECTV. Starting Aug. 10, the carrier will provide four phone lines with unlimited voice and texting, along with 10 gigabytes of sharable data. On the video side, AT&T will hook up four TVs with HD and DVR features and the ability to watch on any mobile device.

Huge bridge construction projects become tourist attractions

The St. Croix River bridge, the Tappan Zee Bridge and other major bridge projects under construction across the U.S. are turning into major tourist draws. Contractors and transportation officials have been surprised by the number of people who board boats or take guided tours to view the projects. "The larger the project is, the more the interest is," said construction firm spokeswoman Karen Lenehan, who expects to take 400 people on tours this year of the George V. Voinovich Bridge project over the Cuyahoga River in Ohio.

TransCanada remains committed to building Keystone XL, exec says

TransCanada will continue to seek approval for building the Keystone XL pipeline in spite of speculations that President Barack Obama will reject the project, said President and CEO Russ Girling. Demand for the pipeline "remains high as consumers continue to use more and more gasoline refined from barrels of crude oil," he said. However, the company has not made any decision on whether it will use a North American Free Trade Agreement provision to press for a federal decision, Girling said.

92 guns are found so far this year at Atlanta airport

Transportation Security Administration officers have found 92 guns at Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport so far this year. A total of 109 guns were found at the airport last year.

Intercontinental Hotels posts stronger revenue

InterContinental Hotel Group reported stronger revenue this week but declined to comment on rumors of a merger with Starwood. Chief Executive Richard Solomons expects strong performance to continue for the rest of the year. "Our preferred brands demonstrated their continued momentum as we signed the highest number of Holiday Inn rooms ever in the first half, including the two largest properties for the brand, and strengthened our leadership position in the fast-growing boutique segment," he said.