Business Briefs: Apple supplier in China accused of safety violations

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Apple supplier in China accused of safety breaches

An Apple supplier in China is violating safety and pay rules despite the computer giant’s promises to improve conditions, two activist groups said Thursday. China Labor Watch and Green America said violations at Catcher Technology’s facility in the eastern city of Suqian have worsened since they were pointed out in April 2013. Apple Inc., based in Cupertino, Calif., said it would send inspectors to investigate the latest report.

Home Depot CEO reassures customers, investors

Home Depot’s outgoing CEO Frank Blake told investors Thursday that the nation’s largest home-improvement chain continues to investigate a potential breach at the company and reassured that customers will not be liable for any potential fraudulent charges. Mr. Blake didn’t confirm that a breach actually happened but said that Home Depot found out about the possible data theft Tuesday. He told investors that Home Depot will be activating chip-enabled checkout terminals at all of its stores by the end of the year.

Worker productivity rises as labor costs fall

The Commerce Department says that productivity, the amount of output per hour of work, rose at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 2.3 percent in the second quarter. That represented a rebound from the first quarter when productivity fell at a 4.5 percent rate. Unit labor costs edged down 0.1 percent at an annual rate in the second quarter.

Services firms grew last month, ISM reports

The Institute for Supply Management says its services index rose to 59.6 last month from 58.7 in July. The August figure is the highest recorded since the measure was introduced in January 2008. Fifteen of 17 industries reported growth last month. Only mining and arts, entertainment and recreation contracted in August.

Electrolux planning to buy GE appliance business

Sweden’s Electrolux AB is near a deal to buy General Electric Co.’s appliance business for more than $2.5 billion, people familiar told Reuters. The companies are hammering out final terms of a deal and could announce their agreement as soon as next week, the people said Thursday, asking not to be named because the matter is not public. Representatives for GE and Electrolux declined to comment.

Trade deficit falls as exports grow

The U.S. trade deficit fell in July to its lowest level since January, as exports of autos, telecom equipment, industrial machines and semiconductors rose. The trade deficit fell 0.6 percent in July to a seasonally adjusted $40.5 billion, from $40.8 billion in June, the Commerce Department said Thursday. Exports climbed 0.9 percent to a record $198 billion. Imports rose 0.7 percent to $238.6 billion.

Fiat-Chrysler merger remains on track

Fiat SpA says its merger with Chrysler is going ahead since there isn’t enough opposition to derail it. Fiat said in a statement Thursday that shareholders had cashed out 463 million euros ($609 million), under the 500 million-euro ($657 million) threshold that would have scuttled the deal.

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