Chinese Food Giant Gobbles Up Smithfield

Morning Business Memo…

America's farmers may gain new access to the fastest growing food market in the world: China. The proposed purchase of Smithfield Foods by China's largest meat processor would be the largest Chinese takeover of an American company. Smithfield is an iconic name, and the largest U.S. pork producer. If approved by federal regulators, Shuanghai International Holdings would pay $34 a share for Smithfield. The deal could create many new U.S. jobs as the newly combined company would move to export more of Smithfield's meat to feed China's rapidly growing market. The move is part of a broader trend. Annual exports of U.S. agricultural products to China have more than doubled since 2009. The size of Chinese takeovers of American firms is also growing.

A dramatic drop for the Nikkei Index overnight. The Japanese stock average fell 5.2 percent. Global stock markets have seen rising volatility this week. The 100-plus point rise on Tuesday for the Dow Jones Index was matched by a similar drop Wednesday. Concerns that the Federal Reserve might start scaling back its stimulus program also sent Asian stock markets lower. Some investors are concerned about rising bond yields and the possibility the Federal Reserve will scale back its bond purchases. Rates on 10 year Treasury notes are at their highest in 13 months. Stronger bond yields would make ultra safe investments in U.S. Treasuries more attractive compared to riskier stocks.

The U.S. foreclosure crisis may be winding down. RealtyTrac says sales of bank owned homes fell sharply in the first quarter - down 23 percent compared to the year before. Sales of homes already in the foreclosure process also dropped 20 percent.

Wendy's is said to be putting the finishing touches on brand new offering: a pretzel bacon cheeseburger. "This upcoming burger - made with a soft-pretzel-like roll - has some fast food experts fawning," says USA Today. One leading fast food industry analyst has upgraded Wendy's stock, based on the likely introduction of the pretzel burger later this year.

Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway owned MidAmerican Energy is buying NV Energy - the Nevada based electric and natural gas company. The price is $5.6 billion. The deal could boost the combined company's production of renewable energy such as solar and wind power

Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC News Radio Twitter: daviesabc

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