Business Notebook

November 4, 2013 

Local & State

Midlands

Columbia’s bond rating reaches AA-plus

Columbia’s bond rating by Standard & Poor’s rose to the highest score for taxpayer-backed bonds, the city manager announced Monday. The city’s rating for general obligation bonds is now AA-plus, up from AA, Teresa Wilson said in a news release. S&P was able to accurately assess the city’s strengths and challenges that lay ahead, the news release states. While room for improvement exists, Standard & Poor’s upgrade stands as acknowledgement that the city of Columbia is on the right path. “We are very proud of the increased general obligation rating from Standard & Poor’s,” Wilson said. “This rating will yield a solid fiscal position for Columbia as we navigate our future opportunities within the financial industry.”

Nation & World

Student loan borrowers to be told of repayment options

The Education Department says it will begin reaching out by email this month to about 3.5 million federal student loan borrowers. They will be encouraged to learn more about their repayment options, especially whether they qualify for an income-based repayment plan. The department says many borrowers will qualify if their federal student loan debt exceeds their annual income. For those who qualify, their initial payment could be as low as nothing a month. Under such a plan, loans are paid off over a longer period of time so the total amount increases, but the monthly payment amount is reduced.

Kellogg cutting global workforce 7 percent

Kellogg is planning to cut its global workforce by 7 percent as the maker of Frosted Flakes, Rice Krispies and Special K struggles to convince Americans to eat more cereal. The company, which also makes Pop Tarts and Eggo waffles, also said Monday it expects earnings per share for the year to be toward the lower end of its previous projection as a result of weaker-than-expected sales. According to FactSet, Kellogg has 31,000 employees, suggesting the company plans to cut about 2,170 jobs.

Carnival making changes in management team after mishaps

Carnival is shaking up its management team in an effort to rebuild after several mishaps drove passengers away. The company said Monday that its chief operating officer will take on a new role as special adviser to the CEO and chairman. It also named a new CEO for its Holland America unit and a new president of Princess Cruises. Carnival named a new CEO in June. The Miami-based company has been struggling with weaker revenue since the February breakdown of the Carnival Triumph, which stranded passengers for five days in the Gulf of Mexico -- followed by two other ships having to be towed back to port.

Bumper corn crop prompts poultry farms to expand chicken production

The biggest-ever U.S. corn harvest is spurring poultry farms to expand chicken production, sending domestic supplies of the meat to a record and cutting costs for buyers from Costco Wholesale to McDonald’s. Corn fell 50 percent from its peak during last year’s U.S. drought, boosting profit for poultry producers and expanding supplies of broiler meat expected to reach a record this year.

Clif LeBlanc, The Associated Press and Bloomberg News contributed.

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