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The Journal Gazette

Wednesday, December 06, 2017 1:00 am

Briefs

Trade gap rises 8.6% in October

News services

WASHINGTON – Record imports lifted the U.S. trade deficit to $48.7 billion in October, highest since January.

The Commerce Department said Tuesday that the trade gap rose 8.6 percent in October from $44.9 billion in September. Imports hit a record $244.6 billion in October, and exports were unchanged at $195.9 billion.

A trade deficit means that the United States is buying more goods and services from other countries than it is selling them. A rising trade gap reduces U.S. economic growth.

President Donald Trump views America's massive trade deficits as a sign of economic weakness. He blames them on bad trade deals and abusive practices by China and other trade partners. Conventional economists argue that trade deficits are largely caused not by flawed trade agreements or cheating by particular countries but by a bigger economic force: Americans spend more than they produce, and imports have to fill in the gap.

Nestle plans to buy health-goods maker

Swiss consumer goods company Nestle says it is buying Atrium Innovations, a privately held maker of nutritional health products, for $2.3 billion in cash.

Nestle said Tuesday it will buy the company, which is headquartered in Quebec, from a group of investors led by Permira Funds.

Atrium has about 1,400 workers and its 2017 sales are forecast to reach almost $700 million.

Greg Behar, Nestle's chief executive for health science, said Atrium's brands will help supplement Nestle's offerings in the fast-growing market for natural and organic supplements.

Ireland, Apple reach $15 billion tax deal

Ireland has struck a deal with Apple to collect up to $15 billion in back taxes and hold it in an escrow account pending an appeal before the Court of Justice of the European Union.

The government said in a statement Monday that an agreement had been reached “in relation to the framework of the principles that will govern the escrow arrangements.”

The European Commission had ordered Ireland to collect the money after concluding that two Irish tax rulings allowed Apple to pay less tax than other businesses – thus giving them an unfair advantage. The Commission ordered Ireland to collect back taxes for the years 2003-2014, which it estimated to be as much 13 billion euros plus interest.

Ireland disagreed with the Commission's analysis and appealed the decision.

Apple said in a statement that it remains confident the court will overturn the commission's decision once it has reviewed the evidence.

Zuckerberg taking parental leave

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says he's taking parental leave this month to spend more time with his daughters.

Zuckerberg said on Facebook and Instagram over the weekend that “you'll hear from me a little less” during this time.

Facebook offers four months of paid parental leave for both mothers and fathers – which is generous for corporate America, although some tech companies offer more.

The paid leave doesn't need to be taken at once. Zuckerberg took a month off after his second daughter, August, was born in August. Max was born in 2015.

When he took his first leave, Zuckerberg wrote that he's “pretty sure the office will still be standing when I get back.”