OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Oil and gas exploration company Devon Energy Corp. is selling some U.S. oil and gas properties to Linn Energy LLC for $2.3 billion. The properties include those in the Rockies, onshore Gulf Coast and Mid-Continent region, Devon said on Monday. The properties produced 275 million cubic feet of natural gas equivalent per day, with proved reserves of 1.242 trillion cubic feet of gas equivalent. Oklahoma City-based Devon will have lowered its debt by more than $4 billion this year once the sale is complete. Houston-based Linn said it plans to finance the transaction by selling its Granite Wash assets and other non-producing acreage. The Granite Wash and Cleveland properties are located in the Texas Panhandle and western Oklahoma. The deal is expected to close in 2014's third quarter.
Wheat prices were rising to their highest level in two weeks as traders prepared for the release of a closely watched U.S. crop report Monday. September wheat rose nine cents, or 1.5 percent, to $5.94 a bushel on Friday. That's the highest price since June 10. The Department of Agriculture will release its monthly grain stocks report on Monday. The report is expected to show wheat stocks declined in June as well as a modest decline in the amount of acres of wheat being grown in the U.S. Corn rose 1 percent to $4.46 a bushel and soybeans fell 1 percent to $12.28 a bushel ahead of the report. In other commodities, oil fell 10 cents to $105.74 a barrel. Gold rose $3 to $1,320 an ounce.
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Food and Drug Administration says it has approved a long-delayed inhalable diabetes medication to help patients control their blood sugar levels. The FDA cleared MannKind Corp.'s drug Afrezza, a fast-acting form of insulin, for adults with the most common form of diabetes, which affects more than 25 million Americans. The approval decision comes more than three years after the agency first asked MannKind to run additional clinical studies on the drug. Afrezza, an insulin powder, comes in a single-use cartridge and is designed to be inhaled at the start of a meal. MannKind has said patients using the drug can achieve peak insulin levels within 12 to 15 minutes. That compares to a wait time of an hour and a half or more after patients inject insulin.
NEW YORK (AP) - Barnes & Noble says it wants to split its retail bookstores and Nook media business into two separate public companies as it looks to boost shareholder value. The bookseller's stock jumped more than 8 percent in Wednesday premarket trading. Barnes & Noble has been trying to turn itself around as competition from discount stores and online retailers toughens, and as readers shift away from traditional books to digital formats. The New York-based chain, which announced earlier this month that it was teaming with Samsung to develop Nook tablets, said that its board has approved the separation plans. It hopes to complete the separation by the end of 2015's first quarter. Barnes & Noble Inc. also reported its fourth-quarter loss narrowed, but the performance still missed Wall Street's expectations.
NEW YORK (AP) - The maker of Yoplait Light is hoping a sweetener change can help bring back customers. General Mills Inc. said Wednesday it plans to remove aspartame from its popular reduced-calorie yogurt and instead use another artificial sweetener, sucralose. Aspartame is better known by the brand names NutraSweet and Equal, while sucralose is the sweetener used in Splenda. "We know that some consumers have concerns about aspartame, so this is a positive transition," General Mills CEO Ken Powell said in a phone interview. Although sucralose is also an artificial sweetener, Powell said it has greater acceptance among consumers. The change comes as General Mills struggles to fix its Yoplait business, which has been upended by the popularity of Greek yogurt and the move toward ingredients people feel are natural.
WASHINGTON (AP) - U.S. consumers are more confident about the economy than they have been in more than six years. The Conference Board says its confidence index rose to 85.2 this month from a revised 82.2 in May. The June figure is the highest since January 2008, a month after the Great Recession officially began. More Americans are optimistic about business conditions and the outlook for jobs, though they're less confident that their incomes will grow. The index compiled by the Conference Board, a private research group, shows that confidence has been rising steadily since bottoming at 25.3 in February 2009. It still hasn't returned to full health. Before the recession, the index usually topped 90. Consumers' attitudes are closely watched because their spending accounts for about 70 percent of U.S. economic activity.
WASHINGTON (AP) - Senate supporters of legislation to renew long-term jobless benefits are backing a new approach in hopes of pressuring the House to reinstate the program after a lapse of six months. Democratic Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island and Republican Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada say their new legislation does not seek retroactive payments for those who lost benefits at the end of last year. Instead, it allows anyone who was eligible at the time to resume receiving aid. The expired program generally benefited workers who have been unemployed for more than six months. The decision by Reed and Heller to unveil a new bill was unusual, since the Senate passed legislation earlier this year to renew the program and the Republican-controlled House shows no sign of acting on the issue.
WASHINGTON (AP) - Sales of previously owned U.S. homes in May posted the best monthly gain in nearly three years, providing hope that housing is beginning to regain momentum lost over the past year. The National Association of Realtors says that sales of existing homes increased 4.9 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.89 million homes. The monthly gain was the fastest since August 2011, but even with the increase sales are still 5 percent below the pace in May 2013. Sales have been dampened by last year's rise in mortgage rates from historic lows and various other factors including tight supplies and tougher lending standards. The median price of a home sold in May was $213,400, up 5.1 percent from a year ago.
DETROIT (AP) - The grandson of a founder of an iconic Michigan soft drink company says he was fired because of his age. Hugh Rosenthal was marketing director at Detroit-based Faygo when he lost his job at age 68 in 2012. He tells the Detroit Free Press there was no legitimate business reason to let him go. Rosenthal's lawsuit is in Flint federal court. The Free Press says Faygo vice president Al Chittaro declined to comment. Rosenthal says he spotted trouble in 2011 when the company posted a job for brand manager. He says he was told he would be fired after he trained his replacement. Rosenthal, now 70, is the grandson of Faygo co-founder Ben Feigenson. He says Faygo is "sort of in my blood."
WASHINGTON (AP) - A conservation group says it's suing the Obama administration over a new federal rule that allows wind-energy companies to seek approval to kill or injure eagles for 30 years. The suit from the American Bird Conservancy is expected to be filed Thursday in federal court in San Jose, California. A copy of the complaint was obtained by The Associated Press on Wednesday. The group argues that the rule issued late last year violates federal law. It says the government extended by 25 years the time a company could be authorized to kill eagles without analyzing the consequences. The wind energy industry sought the change to reduce its liability. An AP investigation last year documented dozens of eagle deaths at wind farms, findings confirmed by federal biologists.