A federal court on Tuesday dealt a setback to efforts by beekeepers and consumer groups to force the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to regulate insecticide coatings on crop seeds. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California said it was well within the discretion of the federal agency to exclude chemical-coated seeds from pesticide rules that already cover the compounds in their other uses. "The Court is most sympathetic to the plight of our bee population and beekeepers," Judge William Haskell Alsup wrote. "Perhaps the EPA should have done more to protect them, but such policy decisions are for the agency to make." Several farmers, along with the Center for Food Safety, American Bird Conservancy, Pesticide Action Network North America and the Pollinator Stewardship Council had challenged the EPA's exemption for seeds coated with neonicotinoids, a class of insecticide used on about 150 million acres of food crops, predominantly soy and corn grown in Midwestern states.
U.S. stocks were slightly higher Wednesday morning as utility companies climbed. Energy companies were trading lower as the price of oil continued to slip. Stocks are at their lowest levels in two months after large losses in two of the last three days. The Dow Jones industrial average advanced 31 points, or 0.2%, to 18,097 as of 10:05 a.m. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 5 points, or 0.2%, to 2,132.
Shares of Monsanto Co. are surging Thursday after Bloomberg News reported Germany's Bayer is exploring a bid for the U.S. seed company. State-owned ChemChina's proposed acquisition of Syngenta and a potential merger of Dow Chemical and DuPont has dramatically changed the agricultural landscape in a matter of months. Valued at about 40 billion at the market close Wednesday, Monsanto made a bid for Syngenta last year. In early trading Thursday, Monsanto's shares were up 17.7 percent at 106.30 while Bayer's shares were down 3.8 percent at 96 euros ( 109.48). Both Monsanto and Bayer declined to comment on the Bloomberg News report, which cited people familiar with the matter.
Bayer won over Monsanto's management with a 128 per-share cash offer to acquire the global seed market leader, a person familiar with the matter said, in a move to command more than a quarter of the combined world market for seeds and pesticides. Bayer has signed a deal that includes a fee of 2 billion should the transaction fail to get regulatory clearance as planned, the person said. The deal is expected to close by the end of 2017, the source told Reuters on Wednesday. Monsanto and Bayer were not immediately available for comment. Shares in Bayer extended gains to trade 3 percent higher on the news, outperforming.
Yahoo's latest earnings report leaves no doubt the internet company is stuck in a downward spiral. The company managed to beat Wall Street's limited expectations for revenue in the April to June quarter. But after subtracting commissions paid to its partners, Yahoo said its revenue fell 19 percent from a year earlier, while its loss widened to 440 million from last year's 22 million. The company reported 1.3 billion in GAAP revenue for the second quarter compared to 1.24 billion for the same period last year, however, the cost of revenue more than doubled from 200 million last year to 466 million this year. Yahoo also reported that it's writing down 482 million in charges related to the declining value of Tumblr, the social-blogging service that Yahoo acquired for 1.1 billion in 2013.