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    Nurses at Baystate Franklin Medical Center approve one-day strike


    Nurses at Baystate Franklin Medical Center approve one-day strike

    Registered nurses at Baystate Franklin Medical Center have voted overwhelmingly to authorize a one-day strike. Donna Stern, senior chair of the BFMC RN bargaining committee and a full-time nurse, said the facility is chronically understaffed. “As nurses, our number one job is to take care of patients as best we can,” Stern said. “We have all the research to show that holes in the schedule result in higher death, infection, and readmission rates.” Stern said the bargaining committee hopes to begin contract talks with Baystate within the next few days. If a strike is called, the date will be announced after the hospital has been given a 10-day notice. The 200 nurses are represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association and 93 percent of them voted to authorize the one-day strike. — SHELBY GREBBIN


    McDonald’s testing mobile ordering

    McDonald’s has started testing mobile order-and-pay after acknowledging the ordering process in its restaurants can be ‘‘stressful.’’ The company says it will gather feedback from the test before launching the option nationally toward the end of the year. It says mobile order-and-pay is now available at 29 stores in Monterey and Salinas, Calif., and will expand to 51 more locations in Spokane, Wash., next week. The rollout comes as customers increasingly seek out convenience through options like online ordering or delivery. With its mobile order-and-pay option, McDonald’s says customers place an order on its app then go to a restaurant and ‘‘check in’’ to select how they want to get their food. That could be at the counter, in the drive-through, or with curbside delivery, where an employee brings out orders to a designated space. Orders are prepared once customers check in at the restaurant. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


    Wall Street bonuses up slightly

    The average Wall Street banker bonus came to slightly more than $138,000 in 2016. That’s according to data from the New York State Comptroller’s Office. The major banks set aside $23.9 billion for bonuses in 2016, or $138,210 per worker, up 2 percent from a year earlier. Bonuses remain well below than the levels they were in their heydays before the financial crisis, when the average bonus was $191,360. While most Wall Street bankers make a salary, the vast majority of their compensation comes in the form of annual bonuses. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


    boosts investment
    in Africa


    Google Inc. is scaling up investment in Africa by laying fiber optic cable, easing access to cheaper Android phones and training a workforce in digital skills as the US technology giant seeks to expand on the continent. “We laid about 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) of fiber in Uganda and we are busy doing about 1,000 kilometers in Ghana,’’ Google’s South Africa head Luke McKend said in a phone interview. “We want to make sure that we cover all the bases. We want to train people and make sure that they have the devices and are able to connect to the Internet.’’ About 1 million people in Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa have been trained by Google over the past year, yet many had to complete their courses with limited internet access due to unreliable coverage and high data prices, McKend said. The Mountain View, Calif.-based company is now turning its attention to Web-focused skills training for small businesses across Africa. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


    Builders are more optimistic

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    US homebuilders are feeling more optimistic about their sales prospects than they have been since the high-flying days of the housing boom. The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index released Wednesday jumped to 71 this month. That’s up six points from 65 in February and the highest reading since June 2005. Readings above 50 indicate more builders view sales conditions as good rather than poor. The index has been above 60 since September. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


    Mass. prices
    hold steady

    Massachusetts gas prices are holding steady. AAA Northeast said Wednesday that self-serve, regular is selling for an average of $2.15 per gallon this week, the same as last week. That price is 15 cents per gallon lower than the national average, but 36 cents higher than the in-state average from a year ago. AAA found self-serve, regular selling for as low as $2.02 per gallon in Massachusetts and as high as $2.39. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


    Spending up slightly
    last month

    Americans spent only slightly more last month at retail stores compared with January, a sign of consumer caution despite rising optimism about the economy. The Commerce Department said Wednesday retail sales ticked up a seasonally adjusted 0.1 percent in February, after a much bigger gain of 0.6 percent the previous month. January’s gain was revised higher. Economists note that spending was likely held back by delays in tax refund payments. A new law has required tougher scrutiny of a tax credit claimed by lower-income taxpayers. Walmart said last month that the delay had slowed sales at its stores in February. Other retailers have reported similar concerns. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


    Vanilla prices could soar
    in wake of cyclone

    The worst tropical cyclone in 13 years to strike Madagascar may push up already record prices for vanilla beans that are used to flavor everything from cafe lattes to ice cream. The storm that killed at least 78 people in the Indian Ocean island nation last week may have damaged as much as 30 percent of the crop, according to David van der Walde, director at Aust & Hachmann Canada Ltd., the world’s oldest vanilla company. The vanilla market, worth about $1.3 billion a year at current prices, was already tight after output slipped and quality suffered over the past two years in Madagascar, which accounts for more than three quarters of global supply. Prices have doubled in a little over a year to more than $500 a kilogram. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


    Roundup gets
    a boost from European regulators


    European regulators gave Monsanto a boost Wednesday after determining that the main ingredient in the company’s flagship weed killer should not be classified as causing cancer. The decision was welcome for Monsanto, coming a day after unsealed records from a federal court in San Francisco raised questions about the safety of the weed killer, Roundup, and concerns about the company’s research practices. The European review was focused on the safety of glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup. “Glyphosate should not be classified as a carcinogen, that is, as a substance causing cancer,” Tim Bowmer, chairman of the committee for risk assessment at the European Chemicals Agency, said at a news briefing. “This conclusion was based both on the human evidence and the weight of the evidence of all of the animal studies reviewed.” The safety of glyphosate has been a contentious topic since the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a branch of the World Health Organization, classified the substance as a probable carcinogen two years ago. — NEW YORK TIMES