Blue Cross, Allina join forces on new plan

Marathon Oil and First Solar dropped after their earnings fell shy of what analysts were expecting. Disney fell after its results were held back by costs related to “The Lone Ranger.” The Dow Jones industrial average fell 79 points, or 0.5 percent, to 15,439 at midday Wednesday. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 10 points, or 0.6 percent, to 1,687. The Nasdaq composite fell 26 points, or 0.7 percent, to 3,639. Bank stocks fell after the government accused Bank of America of civil fraud in its dealings with mortgage-backed securities. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note slipped to 2.62 percent from 2.64 percent.

The firm was pummeled by weak trading results and reduced profit margins in its beef processing and soybean processing businesses. “Cargill’s earnings improved significantly over the prior year,” Greg Page, the company’s CEO, said in a statement. “Nearly all of our business units were profitable, and more than two-thirds exceeded last year’s results.” Cargill’s grain origination and processing segment, which includes trading and export operations, was its largest contributor to earnings for the quarter and the full year. That segment’s cotton and sugar businesses also turned around after a poor showing in 2012. The company’s food ingredients business was also a significant contributor to earnings, with particularly strong performances in sweeteners, starches and cocoa.

“It’s an evolutionary step in the market, but there’s a lot of merit to movement like this,” said Steve Parente, a health care economist and professor at the University of Minnesota. “I can see it working both in terms of consumer appeal as well as in the nuts and bolts of the actuarial parts of it.” Known as “BluePrint,” the plan will be available for individuals and families as well as large and small employers in the 11-county Twin Cities metropolitan area. It will be sold on the state’s MNsure exchange starting in October as well as through brokers and Blue Cross. The organizations say the price for the coverage will be lower than “open choice” plans Blue Cross offers because patients are limited to Allina hospitals, clinics and the 53 independent physician groups in its network. A focus on chronic diseases Although the plan will be open to anyone, it targets those with diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol — three chronic conditions that can be costly for patients and ­providers if people wind up in the hospital.

Best Buy and Dre’s Beats planning new collaboration

The company, however, seems to have stabilized its performance in the past two quarters. And Best Buy recently struck deals with Samsung and Microsoft to create stores-within-stores to push sales of laptops, computers and mobile devices. Such partnerships have helped boost Best Buy stock price in recent months. Founded in 2008, Beats Electronics, based in Santa Monica, Calif., pioneered the category of premium headphones. Endorsed by celebrities like LeBron James, Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga, the $300 headphones, the company claims, can transmit high quality audio similar to what singers and musicians hear in recording studios. The stylish devices, known for a large “B” printed on the sides, have become hugely popular, spawning a number of competitors in the once sleepy personal audio market.

Medtronic device will collect data as it treats brain disorders

It is not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for commercial use in the United States, and will be made available to physicians for investigational use only. The first implant took place in Munich, Germany, in a person with Parkison’s disease. The system uses sensing technology and an adjustable algorithm to gather brain signals at various moments as selected by a physician. That data will be made available to physicians worldwide for use in clinical studies.

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