- - Sunday, May 22, 2011

GASOLINE

Price at pump down 9 cents in two weeks

CAMARILLO, Calif. — The average U.S. price of a gallon of gasoline has dropped about 9 cents over the past two weeks.

The Lundberg Survey of fuel prices puts the average price for a gallon of regular at $3.91. Analyst Trilby Lundberg said Sunday that the national average for a gallon of mid-grade is $4.05. For premium, it’s $4.16 a gallon.

Ms. Lundberg says diesel prices fell about 8 cents a gallon over the past two weeks, to $4.14.

Jackson, Miss., had the nation’s lowest average price for gas at $3.60. Chicago had the highest at $4.38.

PHARMACEUTICALS

Bayer looks for relief from dipping sales

TRENTON, N.J. — Bayer, the company synonymous with aspirin, is introducing a reformulated product Monday that works much faster than its current pills.

Bayer says its aspirin is now better-known for preventing heart attack and stroke than for its pain-reliever roots. Bayer AG says it needed to revitalize the brand and target younger customers. Expanding the demographic of users is key to budging Bayer’s 14.6 percent market share.

Scientists at Bayer Consumer Care’s Morristown, N.J., headquarters worked for five years to address consumers’ No. 1 complaint: The aspirin doesn’t work fast enough.

Bayer Advanced Aspirin was tested in multiple sites on dental patients who’d just had wisdom teeth extracted. Dr. Eric R. First, head of new product development for Bayer AG’s consumer care unit, said 500 milligrams of the new aspirin started working in 16 minutes and brought “meaningful pain relief” in 49, on average, compared with 100 minutes for the same dosage of regular Bayer.

GREECE

Prime minister gloomy about debt servicing

BERLIN — Greece’s prime minister conceded for the first that his country might not be able to tap the markets for its borrowing needs next year as the head of the eurogroup urged the debt-ridden country to set up an independent privatization body overseen by the European Union to bring down its ballooning debt level.

George Papandreou said in an interview with the daily Ethnos published Sunday that “it does not appear at present that Greece will be able to cover its borrowing requirements in 2012 normally, from the markets.”

As part of its 110 billion euro bailout deal with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, Greece was expected to raise 27 billion euros to help pay its bills in 2012.

Mr. Papandreou also acknowledged that Greece “would most likely” default on its debt if the pending fifth installment of its loan package were not granted as scheduled.

IMF

Mexico, France tout candidates for top job

French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde’s candidacy for IMF chief gained momentum in Europe on Sunday, while Mexico put forward its own candidate, ensuring competition for the top job.

The Mexican Finance Ministry said it would nominate central bank chief Agustin Carstens, placing a prominent emerging market name into the race to lead the global lender, a post always previously held by a European.

The International Monetary Fund has promised a merit-based process to replace former leader Dominique Strauss-Kahn of France, who is under house arrest in New York on charges he attempted to rape a hotel maid.

French Interior Minister Claude Gueant, a top adviser to French President Nicolas Sarkozy, said Sunday that Ms. Lagarde would make an excellent head of the Washington-based lender. “And besides, many countries support her,” he told Europe 1 radio, becoming the first member of France’s Cabinet to openly tout her credentials.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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