FTC gives conditional approval to Linde-Praxair deal

Linde and Praxair have gained conditional antitrust clearance from the Federal Trade Commission for their proposed merger. The FTC has asked the companies to unload various US assets, including five non-Gulf Coast Linde plants and Linde's bulk liquid oxygen, nitrogen and argon stateside assets.

Africa lifts French to 5th most spoken language

More than 300 million people speak French -- making it the world's fifth most spoken language, up from sixth -- and because of age demographics, some of the increases are among people in Africa, according to a recent report by the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie. The report's data show that from 2010 to present, 22.7 million more people speak French, and that nearly 70% of those speakers live in sub-Saharan Africa, while 22% live in the northern part of the continent.

Economists: US-China trade war will take toll on global growth

Economists polled by Reuters this month downgraded the outlook for 18 of 44 global economies, and the poll showed growth has peaked in about 70% of the economies. One of the main catalysts cited for a predicted downturn was the trade conflict between the US and China.

UNFI completes SUPERVALU acquisition. Now what?

United Natural Foods' $2.9 billion acquisition of SUPERVALU was completed Monday, marking a deal that will allow UNFI to more than double its distribution business and move beyond natural and organic foods into traditional grocery stores. Through the merger, UNFI will continue to look for buyers for Cub Foods and SUPERVALU's other grocery banners.

Administration expands options for employers funding health care

The Trump administration announced Monday a proposal to allow the use of health reimbursement arrangements -- through which employers give employees tax-free money to cover some health care costs -- to purchase individual insurance policies. The Affordable Care Act disallowed HRAs from being used for insurance premiums.

Facebook use is skewing toward older Americans, study says

The number of Americans using Facebook is expected to increase slightly, from 51.4% last year to 51.5% this year, eMarketer says. Use is expected to decline among young demographics, while it rises for those over 55.

Gilberto Benetton grew a fashion brand into a conglomerate

United Colors of Benetton co-founder Gilberto Benetton has died at age 77. Benetton launched the colorful sweater brand in Italy in 1965, along with his two brothers and one sister, and in later years he diversified the family business into sectors including catering and construction.

HTC launches blockchain phone

HTC has launched its Exodus 1 blockchain-powered smartphone, which includes a secure enclave for cryptokeys. The device can only be purchased with cryptocurrency and currently retails for 0.15 Bitcoin or 4.78 Ethereum.

DBV seeks FDA nod for pediatric peanut allergy therapy

DBV Technologies has filed a biologics license application with the FDA for Viaskin Peanut, being developed as a treatment for patients ages 4 to 11 who have peanut allergy. A safety and efficacy study showed a statistically significant response in 35.3% of patients, compared with 13.6% who used placebo.

Hulu may offer smaller TV bundle sans cable networks

Hulu CEO Randy Freer recently said that the service may offer smaller bundles of programming that would include news and sports while limiting cable content to on-demand shows. The move could let Hulu eliminate network carriage fees and attract customers looking for cost-friendly options.

Column: Excellence in safety begins with proper signage

Companies can set a precedent for safety by ensuring everything is properly labeled and the right safety signs are posted before work begins, writes Kelsey Rzepecki of Graphic Products. Signage can include general safety, piping systems, electrical areas, hazardous materials and emergency protocols.

High freight rates squeeze US Gulf Coast crude exports

Crude exports from the US Gulf Coast are estimated at 1.7 million to 1.8 million barrels per day in November, down from an average of over 2 million bpd between May and July, amid mounting pressure from surging freight costs. "The local demand in the US remains strong, margins are OK, but clearly arbitrage demand isn't as good," a trader said.

Basic economy might be bad for fliers, but it's smart strategy

The airline industry is an example of how offering clear pricing tiers, starting with a cheap option that offers little or no perks, sets customer expectations and helps them decide whether to spend more, write Thomas A. Stewart and Patricia O'Connell. "By creating a class of service many passengers shun, basic economy appears to have made ordinary service seem less bad," they write.

Old Pa. favorite scoops cool treats in new location

A grand opening was held for the Hotel B Ice Cream Parlor in downtown Bethlehem, Pa., which moved across the street into larger quarters. Owned by the Historic Hotel Bethlehem, the landmark features Penn State Creamery products.