Business briefs: State ranked 15th in CNBC business rating

Washington state has been ranked 15th in CNBCs state rankings of the business climate around the nation. The states were rated in nine different areas: Cost of business, work force, quality of life, economy, transportation and infrastructure, technology and innovation, education, business friendliness, access to capital and cost of living. Washington did well in quality of living (eighth), technology (fifth) and access to capital (fifth). In economy, it was 18th and in education it was 22nd. In cost of business, the state ranked 33rd, work force 30th, transportation 35th, business friendliness 34th, and cost of living 35th. To look at the full report on Washington, go to

Nestle, FTC agree on product health claims

A Nestle subsidiary has agreed to stop advertising that its children’s drink Boost Kid Essentials can prevent illness, boost immunity and reduce school absences, the Federal Trade Commission said Wednesday in announcing two settlements. The FTC said it reached the settlement with Nestle HealthCare Nutrition Inc. and a separate one with a major dietary supplement maker as part of a larger effort to crackdown on “bogus health claims” on consumer products. The regulatory agency said Nestle has agreed to stop asserting its Boost drink, with probiotics, can enhance children’s immune systems, prevent certain illnesses or speed recovery unless the statements are approved by regulators.

Business inventories rise for fifth month

Inventories held by businesses rose for a fifth consecutive month in May but sales dropped for the first time in more than a year. Inventories edged up 0.1 percent in May, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday. Sales dropped 0.9 percent, the first decline since March 2009 when they fell 2.1 percent. The drop in total business sales was further evidence that the recovery was slowing in the late spring. A separate report Wednesday said sales at the retail level dropped for a second straight month in June. Businesses helped drive the early stages of the recovery last year by building up their stocks after slashing them during the recession. The worry is that if consumer demand continues to slip, businesses will cut back.

Walgreen to boost stock dividend 27%

Drugstore chain Walgreen Co. says it is boosting its quarterly dividend by 27 percent to 17.5 cents from 13.75 cents. The Deerfield, Ill., company will now pay dividends of 70 cents each year, up from 55 cents. Walgreen says its next dividend is payable Sept. 11 to shareholders of record on Aug. 19. President and Chief Executive Greg Wasson said the company is confident in its growth plans and its ability to maintain a strong free cash flow. Walgreen is the biggest drugstore operator in the U.S. It operates 7,541 stores across the country.

From Herald news services