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Local companies continue to feel better about the economy

David L. Ryan/Globe Staff


Local companies continue to feel better about the economy

Business confidence in Massachusetts improved for the second straight month in August, as employers became more bullish about the prospects for the state and national economies. The Associated Industries of Massachusetts Business Confidence Index had previously fallen over the past year to 50.8, putting it precariously close to 50, the breakpoint between when the overall mood is considered positive or negative. But in July and then again in August, the index rose to be comfortably back in optimistic territory, climbing by nearly five points over two months to 55.3 last month. The index is still 6.7 points below where it was a year ago. Sara Johnson, chair of AIM’s board of economic advisors, said the latest round of monthly survey responses supports AIM’s view that the state and national economies may be growing at a sluggish pace but have not entered a recession. Employers, she said, are still eager to hire more workers to keep up with current and projected demand, but they’re often struggling to find those workers. — JON CHESTO



Holyoke green center getting $5m to expand

The member universities of the Massachusetts Green High-Performance Computing Center are investing more than $5 million to expand the capacity of the Holyoke center, to aid in the cutting edge research done at the sponsoring institutions. The project is adding several thousand new servers at the 90,000-square-foot center. Its university sponsors include the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University, Boston University, Northeastern University, and the University of Massachusetts. The new computing infrastructure is being powered almost entirely by “clean energy” sources such as local hydroelectric and solar generation plants operated by Holyoke Gas and Electric. The computing center was developed through a partnership among the universities, the state of Massachusetts, and tech companies Cisco and Dell EMC. — JON CHESTO


Marcus Partners closes fund

Boston-based real estate firm Marcus Partners on Tuesday said it had closed a $650 million fund. The firm declined to disclose the names of investors. Its investor base, however, is primarily institutional, comprising endowments, foundations, and pensions systems. Marcus in recent years has focused on developing industrial, multifamily, and life-science properties throughout Boston, New York, and Washington, D.C. Some of its local projects include the future Gingko Bioworks headquarters in Boston’s Seaport as well as three ground-up industrial projects in Taunton, Franklin, and Haverhill. The firm also recently sold a four-building industrial portfolio — 192 Mansfield Ave. in Norton, 100 Adams Road in Clinton, and 132 Campanelli Drive and 1010 West Chestnut St. in Brockton — to GCP/Modlo for $173 million. Marcus’s recently closed fund exceeded its original $500 million fund-raising target by more than $150 million. “Amidst today’s volatile investment landscape, we remain keenly focused on capital preservation,” said Marcus Partners Founder and CEO Paul Marcus in a statement. The firm owns, operates, or is developing more than 6 million square feet of real estate and 1,300 apartment units. — CATHERINE CARLOCK



Lufthansa pilots call off strike

A union representing pilots at Lufthansa on Tuesday called off a planned two-day strike after a last-minute agreement with Germany’s biggest airline in a pay dispute. The Vereinigung Cockpit union had announced plans for a walkout on Wednesday and Thursday, calling on the company to make a “serious” offer in talks over pay increases. It would have been the second strike in a week after pilots staged a walkout Friday that led to hundreds of flights being canceled. It wasn’t immediately clear what the agreement entails. Vereinigung Cockpit has called for a 5.5 percent raise for its members this year and an inflation-busting 8.2 percent increase in 2023. Pilots also have sought a new pay and holiday structure. — ASSOCIATED PRESS



Bed Bath & Beyond names an interim finance chief

Bed Bath & Beyond promoted its chief accounting officer to interim chief financial officer after the death of former finance chief Gustavo Arnal. Laura Crossen, the company’s senior vice president of finance and chief accounting officer, has taken over the position, BedBath & Beyond said in a statement on Tuesday. She will continue as principal accounting officer. Arnal, the former CFO, fell to his death Sept. 2 from a Manhattan skyscraper. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


EU blocks buyout of GRAIL

The European Union’s antitrust watchdog announced on Tuesday that it is blocking the buyout of cancer-screening company GRAIL by biotech giant Illumina in a rare move by European regulators against two US companies. Illumina is a major supplier of next-generation sequencing (NGS) systems for genetic and genomic analysis, while GRAIL is a health company developing blood tests to try to catch cancer early. Illumina announced an $8 billion acquisition of GRAIL in 2020. But the European Commission, which polices competition issues, said the buyout “would have enabled and incentivized Illumina to foreclose GRAIL’s rivals, who are dependent on Illumina’s technology, from access to an essential input they need to develop and market their own tests.” — ASSOCIATED PRESS


SPAC merger with Trump hits a snag

The future of former president Donald Trump’s social media platform remains in doubt after a cash-rich company that it had hoped to merge with announced Tuesday that it needed a couple of more days to get shareholder support to extend the deadline for completing the deal. Digital World Acquisition had scheduled a meeting Tuesday to announce the outcome of the shareholder vote to extend the deadline for completing the merger by another year. But moments after the meeting started, Patrick Orlando, Digital World’s chief executive, announced that he was adjourning the meeting to Thursday to allow more time for investors to vote. If the special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, cannot get 65 percent of shareholders to approve the extension, it will be forced to liquidate and return to shareholders the nearly $300 million it raised in an initial public offering in September. The liquidation will also mean that some three dozen hedge funds that had committed to providing $1 billion in additional financing will not have to come up with that cash. — NEW YORK TIMES



Swiss company says it has a green replacement for coffee capsules

Swiss retailer Migros said Tuesday that it is launching a coffeemaking system designed to replace capsules that produce thousands of tons of waste worldwide each year. The cooperative said its spherical capsules — described as “coffee balls” — are fully compostable, unlike the plastic and aluminum containers popularized by its rival Nestle under the brand Nespresso 36 years ago. Migros said its coffee balls are encased in a thin, flavorless, seaweed-based cover that can be discarded with the spent coffee after use. The company said the CoffeeB system, which also features a special coffeemaker, will be rolled out first in Switzerland and France this year, followed by Germany in 2023. — ASSOCIATED PRESS