Sonus paid to develop tumor drugs

Sonus Pharmaceuticals Inc. has signed a licensing agreement with Bayer HealthCare to develop compounds that have shown early promise in shrinking tumors. Bothell-based Sonus said it has received exclusive rights to develop two such compounds, as well as rights to lesser compounds held by Bayer. In exchange, Sonus is paying Bayer $450,000 and has agreed to give Bayer milestone payments and royalties if any approved drugs come out of the research.

Unemployment worst in six years

The nation’s jobs market sent a fresh cry of distress as the number of newly laid off people unexpectedly hit the highest level in more than six years, a Labor Department report showed Thursday. The faltering economy and tight credit have forced companies to cut back, and as the job market shrinks, consumer spending may dwindle, too. All that spells potentially more trouble for the country later this year as the bracing tonic of the government’s tax rebates disappears.

Consumers expand credit use in June

Consumers — fortified by the government’s rebate checks — boosted their borrowing in June at the fastest pace in seven months. The Federal Reserve reported Thursday that consumer credit increased at a brisk annual rate of 6.7 percent in June. That was up from a 3.8 percent growth rate in May. It marked the biggest increase since November when consumer borrowing grew at a 8.2 percent pace. Debt rung up by consumers rose by $14 billion in June from the previous month to a total of $2.59 trillion. That was more than the $6.4 billion over-the-month increase economists were forecasting.

American Air plan will now cost more

It will soon cost you $50 for a mileage-earned reward trip within the United States on American Airlines. American, which invented the mileage program 25 years ago, notified customers Thursday it will raise fees and miles needed for upgrades and free trips. Under changes that take effect Oct. 1, an upgrade from economy coach on a one-way domestic flight will cost $50, plus the previously required 15,000 miles. A round trip upgrade would be $100 and 30,000 miles. Fees for upgrades were also raised on international flights.

Alaska Air loses arbitration case

An arbitrator has ruled that Alaska Airlines violated a union contract by overestimating cost savings when ramp work was outsourced in Seattle in 2005. The West Coast carrier said in a statement it may appeal the ruling issued Thursday in U.S. District Court. For now, though, labor manager and lawyer Herman Wacker said Alaska Airlines will focus on negotiations for a remedy. In May 2005 Alaska Airlines outsourced ramp work done by the Machinists Union to Menzies Aviation, a private company based in Britain. That work includes loading and unloading baggage and guiding planes into and out of airport gates. If the company and union can’t agree on a resolution, the case goes back to the arbitrator. Either side can appeal the arbitrator’s findings using federal court.

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