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Business Briefing

November 24, 2009

CONSUMER SAFETY

Drywall from China linked to corrosion

The federal government said it has found a "strong association" between imported Chinese drywall and corrosion of pipes and wires, which supports complaints by thousands of homeowners in the last year.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said its investigation also has found a "possible" link between health problems reported by homeowners and higher-than-normal levels of hydrogen sulfide gas emitted from the wallboard coupled with formaldehyde, which is commonly found in new houses.

THEME PARKS

Chinese agency OKs Disney plan

China's economic planning agency said it approved a proposal to build a Disney theme park in Shanghai.

The National Development and Reform Commission said the park could be built as planned in Shanghai's eastern Pudong district. It gave no other details.

The Chinese central government early this month announced approval of a broad accord outlining the legal and financial framework for the park. Burbank-based Walt Disney Co. would own 43% of the project. It would feature a Magic Kingdom-style attraction tailored to the Shanghai region, mainland China's commercial and financial hub.

BANKING

Fed seeking plans to repay TARP

The Federal Reserve asked nine of the U.S. banks that were part of this year's stress tests to submit plans for repaying the government's capital injections, a person familiar with the situation said.

The central bank this month asked the banks to give plans including a timetable, said the person, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The firms may have the option to repay the Troubled Asset Relief Program funds soon if they've been able to raise common equity recently and would continue to exceed capital buffers set in the stress tests, the person said.

DEBT

Late credit card payments drop

Consumers got more serious about paying down their credit card debt this summer, a time when delinquencies usually go up.

Cardholders making late payments on bank-issued cards such as those bearing MasterCard and Visa logos fell to 1.1% for the July-to-September period, down from 1.17% in the previous three months, according to credit reporting firm TransUnion.

INTERNET

Google to buy ad firm Teracent

Google Inc. is snapping up another start-up in its quest to sell more visual advertising on the Web.

The acquisition of 3-year-old Teracent Corp. of San Mateo, Calif., would provide Google with more tools for customizing the online billboards known as display advertising.

Teracent's technology automatically tweaks the look of an ad so the images are more likely to grab the targeted audience.

Google, of Mountain View, Calif., didn't disclose the financial terms of the deal.

EARNINGS

Campbell Soup profit rises 17%

Campbell Soup Co., the world's largest soupmaker, said first-quarter profit climbed 17% on decreasing marketing and ingredient costs.

Net income rose to $304 million, or 87 cents a share, from $260 million, or 70 cents, a year earlier, the Camden, N.J., company said in a statement. Sales fell 2.1% to $2.2 billion in the three months ended Nov. 1.

-- times wire reports

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