- - Wednesday, November 14, 2012

REDWOOD CITY — Drivers in the San Francisco Bay area have become the first motorists in the nation to fill up their gas tanks with an algae-based biofuel.

The fuel, known as Biodiesel B20, went on sale Tuesday at gas stations in Berkeley, Oakland, Redwood City and San Jose as part of a monthlong pilot program, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Biodiesel B20 is made from 20 percent algae and 80 percent petroleum, and can be used by any vehicle that runs on diesel. Advocates say it is the first in a wave of clean fuel to hit the marketplace.

The fuel’s algae was grown by South San Francisco-based Solazyme Inc. and already has been used in trials by the military and industrial companies.

FEDERAL RESERVE

Fed: New bond-buying plan is likely

The Federal Reserve is signaling that it will likely launch a new bond-buying program in December to try to spur job growth.

The purchases would be intended to lower long-term borrowing rates to encourage spending and strengthen the economy. The hope is that more hiring would follow.

Minutes of its Oct. 23-24 policy meeting suggest that the Fed will unveil a Treasury-buying plan to replace a program that expires at year’s end. Under the existing program, the Fed has been selling short-term Treasurys and using the proceeds to buy an equal amount of longer-term securities.

When this program ends, the Fed will run out of short-term investments to sell. The minutes suggest that when they meet next month, officials will replace it with another program to buy long-term bonds.

COMMERCE

Business stockpiles grow 0.7% in September

U.S. businesses increased their stockpiles in September, further evidence that economic growth was stronger over the summer than first thought.

The Commerce Department said Wednesday that inventories grew 0.7 percent in September, after a 0.6 percent increase in August.

Retailers, manufacturers and wholesale distributors all boosted their stockpiles. Their sales rose 1.4 percent in September — the most in more than a year.

COFFEE

Starbucks to acquire Teavana for $620M

SEATTLE — Starbucks is ramping up its tea business with a $620 million purchase of Atlanta-based tea seller Teavana.

The coffee giant said Wednesday that it sees a growing market for tea. Starbucks already owns the Tazo tea brand.

Starbucks plans to expand Teavana Holdings Inc.’s network of 300 mall-based stores and add other kinds of stores as well.

From wire dispatches and staff reports