US grocers sue potato growers
A battle between grocers and potato growers has been silently hitting shoppers’ pocketbooks, according to a U.S. wholesaler accusing America’s spud farmers of driving up prices while spying on farmers with satellites and aircraft fly-overs to enforce strict limits on how many tubers they can grow.
Associated Wholesale Grocers’ lawsuit against United Potato Growers of America and two dozen other defendants was shifted this week to U.S. District Court in Idaho, America’s top potato- producing state with 30 percent of the nation’s supply.
It’s unclear how much the alleged price-fixing has bumped up the cost of frozen french fries or a steaming spud served with a steak, but the case isn’t small potatoes: They’re America’s most popular vegetable, worth billions in sales each year, and their journey from the field to the table is complex. Farmers trying to make a profit dependent on weather, water and fuel costs are pitted against grocers who worry they’re getting gouged.
30-year mortgage rate rises to 3.98%
Fixed U.S. mortgage rates rose for the sixth-straight week, putting the average rate on the 30-year loan just shy of 4 percent.
Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the rate on the 30-year loan increased to 3.98 percent. That’s up from 3.91 percent last week and the highest since April 2012. The average rate was last at 4 percent or higher in March 2012.
The rate on the 15-year loan advanced to 3.10 percent from 3.03 percent. That’s also the highest since April 2012.
Concerns that the Federal Reserve will scale back its bond purchases have pushed rates higher. Still, mortgage rates remain low by historical standards.
Cheap mortgages have helped sustain a housing recovery that began last year, encouraging more Americans to buy homes or refinance existing loans.
Microsoft to open sections in Best Buy
Microsoft has unveiled plans for “store-within-a-store” sections in Best Buy stores, becoming the latest major consumer-electronics maker to acknowledge advantages of the brick-and-mortar format.
The sections will begin opening this month and offer Windows-based PCs, tablets, Xbox and accessories, as well as trained staff to explain Windows 8 to customers.
All of the Microsoft mini-stores are expected to be set up in about 600 Best Buy locations in the U.S. and Canada by early September, around the same time analysts expect a free update to Windows 8 to be released.
The update, called Windows 8.1, is meant to reduce some of the confusion caused by a dramatic overhaul of the operating system that debuted amid much fanfare last October, only to get off to a tepid sales start.