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Agriculture Dept. Launches 2nd Round of Payments to Farmers

Agriculture Dept. Launches 2nd Round of Payments to Farmers

President Donald Trump has authorized the Agriculture Department to launch the second and final round of $11 billion in trade mitigation payments to farmers hard hit by tariffs, and more in Tuesday’s Market In Brief.

In a tweet on Monday, Trump said he is fulfilling a promise to protect farmers against “unjustified trade retaliation by foreign nations.”

The Trump administration in July announced it would provide up to $12 billion to offset losses from Trump’s trade disputes with China and other countries.

The first round of checks went out in September.

In total, producers of almonds, corn, cotton, dairy, hogs, sorghum, soybeans, fresh sweet cherries and wheat will receive roughly $9.5 billion. Soybean farmers will get the largest share.

Roughly $1.2 billion is earmarked for a food purchase and distribution program and $200 million to promote trade.

MARKETS IN BRIEF

Tilray Stock Jumps on Collaboration Agreement With Sandoz

Shares of Tilray are surging in Tuesday afternoon trading after the medical cannabis company announced that one of its subsidiaries struck a collaboration agreement with pharmaceutical company Sandoz AG.

Under the deal, Tilray Canada Ltd. and Sandoz’s Canadian arm plan to jointly operate in jurisdictions where cannabis is or will be approved for medical purposes. The agreement also allows the companies to potentially collaborate in such areas as co-branding certain non-smokable/non-combustible products and developing new medical cannabis products.

Tilray has products available in 12 countries and operations in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Germany, Latin America and Portugal.

Tilray Inc.’s stock jumped more than 15 percent to $76.05 in afternoon trading.

Sandoz is a unit of Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis AG. Its shares dipped 25 cents to $85.51 in afternoon trading.

CBS Denies Former CEO Les Moonves $120M Severance

Former CBS CEO Les Moonves will not receive his $120 million severance package after the company’s board of directors determined he was fired “with cause” over sexual misconduct allegations.

The board said Monday it reached its decision after finding that Moonves failed to cooperate fully with investigators looking into the allegations. The board also cited what it called Moonves’ “willful and material misfeasance,” violation of company policies and breach of his contract.

Moonves was ousted in September after allegations from women who said he subjected them to mistreatment including forced oral sex, groping and retaliation if they resisted.

US Home Construction Rose Last Month, Led by Apartments

U.S. developers broke ground on more homes last month, but the increase occurred entirely in apartments. The construction of new single-family houses fell.

The Commerce Department said Tuesday that housing starts rose 3.2 percent in November from the previous month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate 1.26 million. That is 3.6 percent below a year ago. Single-family starts dropped 4.6 percent in November and are down 13.1 percent from a year earlier.

Some of the data have been distorted by extreme weather. Home-building jumped 15.1 percent last month in the South in the aftermath of Hurricanes Florence and Michael. And home construction fell 14.2 percent in the West, possibly because of wildfires in California.

Still, rising mortgage rates have dragged down home sales in the past year, discouraging many builders.

Nuro, Kroger Bringing Unmanned Delivery to Customers

Nuro and grocery chain Kroger are teaming up to bring unmanned delivery service to customers.

The companies said Tuesday that Nuro’s unmanned vehicle, the R1, will be added to a fleet of autonomous Prius vehicles that have run self-driving grocery delivery service in Scottsdale, Arizona with vehicle operators since August.

The R1 can travel on public roads and has no driver or passengers. It only transports goods.

Delivery service via the R1 or Prius vehicles is available for a single Fry’s Food Stores in Scottsdale. Customers will pay a flat fee of $5.95, with no minimum order requirement. Shoppers can place their orders immediately and request same-day or next-day delivery. Delivery service is available seven days a week.

Virginia Shipyard Announces Buyout Offers, Restructuring

The Virginia shipyard that’s the sole builder of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers is offering buyouts to a little more than 10 percent of its workforce.

The Virginian-Pilot obtained a Monday letter from Newport News Shipbuilding President Jennifer Boykin that says the buyouts being offered to more than 2,500 employees are “completely voluntary,” and no layoffs are expected. The letter also indicated a forthcoming restructuring, saying the moves are necessitated by the federal government’s “increasingly complex defense priorities.”

Company spokesman Duane Bourne says the buyout offers are intended to cut overhead costs, and apply to senior manager- and director-level employees, as well as certain other salaried employees.

The shipyard is a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries. It’s also one of two yards that builds nuclear-powered submarines.

Darden Restaurants: Fiscal 2Q Earnings Snapshot

Darden Restaurants Inc. (DRI) on Tuesday reported fiscal second-quarter net income of $115.6 million.

On a per-share basis, the Orlando, Florida-based company said it had net income of 92 cents.

The results met Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of 10 analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was also for earnings of 92 cents per share.

The owner of Olive Garden and other chain restaurants posted revenue of $1.97 billion in the period, falling short of Street forecasts. Nine analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $1.98 billion.

Darden Restaurants expects full-year earnings to be $5.60 to $5.70 per share.

Darden Restaurants shares have increased 3 percent since the beginning of the year, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 index has dropped nearly 5 percent.

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