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TALKING POINTS

Waltham company given FDA approval for test kit

Globe Staff

CORONAVIRUS

Waltham company given FDA approval for test kit

PerkinElmer Inc., the Waltham-based diagnostics manufacturer, said on Tuesday that it is the latest company to receive “emergency use authorization” from the Food and Drug Administration for a coronavirus test. The approval allows certified clinical labs to start using the company’s kit known as the PT-PCR test to detect the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. CEO Prahlad Singh said: “Despite the challenging environment, our employees have demonstrated unwavering commitment over the past two months to combat this global pandemic.” Other Massachusetts companies to receive such a designation this month include Thermo Fisher Scientific and Hologic. — JON CHESTO

FOOD

Former Wahlburgers CEO to head Freight Farms

Former Wahlburgers chief executive Rick Vanzura is taking on a leadership role in a different side of the food business, as the new chief executive of Boston-based Freight Farms. Vanzura takes over for cofounder Brad McNamara, the former CEO of Freight Farms and now the president. Vanzura left Wahlburgers in 2018 and was the first chief executive of the Hingham-based burger chain, working with the Wahlberg brothers on its national expansion. Freight Farms employs 30 people, with seven additional jobs to be filled within the next three months. McNamara and Jon Friedman, the chief operating officer, formed the company in 2010 to enable more urban farming, starting with a hydroponic farm built inside a shipping container. Freight Farms’ technology controls the environmental factors in the containers to enable food production in any climate. This technology allows people to grow more than 500 varieties of produce. The company’s network of container farms now spans 44 states in the United States and 25 countries. Freight Farms announced in February that it raised $15 million in venture funding in a round led by Ospraie Ag Science, along with existing investor Spark Capital. That round brought the company’s total funding to more than $28 million. — JON CHESTO

FEDERAL REGULATIONS

New rules expected for cod fishing in the Gulf of Maine

New rules are coming for the recreational fishery for cod in the Gulf of Maine, federal fishing regulators said. The recreational cod fishery in the Gulf of Maine is closed until Sept. 15. Cod were once abundant off New England, but the population collapsed after years of commercial overfishing. Regulators are developing new recreational rules, and expect them to be in place by the early summer, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said. The recreational fishery for haddock will be open in the Gulf of Maine later this year. The fishery runs from this April 15 to Feb. 28, 2021. The possession limit for the fishery is 15 per day. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

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RETAIL

Target subsidiary to pay nearly $2.3m to settle suit over debt collection

A Target Corp. subsidiary will pay nearly $2.3 million to settle a class-action lawsuit filed by a Massachusetts woman who alleged it engaged in illegal debt collection practices, court records show. Target Enterprise Inc. will pay $7,500 to Gabrielle Carlson, of Clinton, and about $300 to each of the 5,484 other state residents, the Telegram & Gazette reported. A judge approved the settlement Monday. Carlson’s lawyers sued Target two years ago, alleging the national retailer broke state law by placing more than two debt collection calls in seven days to Carlson and other Massachusetts residents. Carlson’s lawsuit said Target called her at least six times in one week. Target admitted to no wrongdoing by agreeing to settle. Company lawyers did not respond to an e-mail Tuesday afternoon. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

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AUTOMOTIVE

Kia one of the last auto plants to close due to coronavirus

Kia Motors Corp. is stopping the assembly lines at one of the last auto plants still open in the United States. The South Korean carmaker’s factory in West Point, Ga., will suspend operations on March 30 for two weeks, according to a statement. Kia cited the spread of Covid-19 and supply chain concerns as reasons for its decision to halt the facility’s output of Optima sedans and Telluride and Sorento SUVs. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

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LABOR

UK elders have younger ones beat when it comes to remote work

They may be digital natives, but the UK’s younger workers are less used to working from home than their elders, according to data from the Office for National Statistics. Workers over the age of 70 and those between 45 and 49 are most likely to have worked remotely last year, compared with just one in 10 aged 20-24. With the government urging people to stay away from their places of employment to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, the numbers may indicate younger workers are less able to do so effectively due to their job function, lack of equipment, or need for greater support. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

UTILITIES

Maine to consider validity of petitions of opponents of energy plan

The secretary of state’s office must address whether some of the petitions used to get the proposed $1 billion New England Clean Energy Connect onto the November ballot were invalid. Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy this week gave Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap until April 1 to determine the validity of signatures gathered by opponents of the proposed utility corridor in western Maine. A lawsuit contends notaries hired by opponents of the project engaged in other campaign activities, violating state law and possibly invalidating some of the signatures. Evidence includes depositions from a state official and lawyer who contend their signatures were forged. The anti-corridor referendum question could be stricken from the November ballot if enough signatures are invalidated. Central Maine Power’s New England Clean Energy Connect would allow up to 1,200 megawatts of Canadian hydropower to reach the regional power grid to meet Massachusetts’ green energy goals. Under the proposal, most of the transmission line would follow an established utility corridor, but a new path would be cut through 53 miles of wilderness that the power company owns.
— ASSOCIATED PRESS

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ATHLETIC SHOES

Nike says it learned valuable lessons from virus shutdown in China

Nike Inc. climbed on Wednesday as the sneaker maker’s better-than-expected, digitally driven third-quarter sales and performance in China, and commentary on what it learned there and in Japan and South Korea position the company to emerge even stronger after the COVID-19 crisis, analysts said. Chief executive John Donahoe said on a Tuesday evening conference call that in China, “at a time when people were confined to their homes, we moved swiftly to leverage our digital app ecosystem and Nike expert trainer network.” This resulted in an “extraordinary rise” in sign ups and engagement for Nike Training Club workouts in China, and weekly active users for all of its Nike activity apps were up 80 percent by the end of the quarter versus the beginning of the quarter. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

MORTGAGES

Applications plummet in wake of shutdowns

US loan applications for buying and refinancing homes plunged last week by the most since the global financial crisis, amid coronavirus shutdowns and related financial turmoil that pushed borrowing costs higher. The Mortgage Bankers Association’s index of applications fell 29.4 percent in the week ended March 20, the biggest decline since early 2009. Home-purchase applications dropped by 14.6 percent while refinancing applications plummeted 33.8 percent. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

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