Drugmakers Merge in $25 Billion Deal

Morning Money Memo…

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Less than two weeks after the Comcast - Time Warner Cable deal, there's another big buyout in the works. Drugmaker Actavis has announced it will purchase rival Forest Laboratories in a cash-and-stock deal worth about $25 billion. Actavis is known for making generic drugs.

The buyout would create a combined company spanning both generic and branded drugs, including Forest's Alzheimer's treatment Namenda and the antidepressant Lexapro. The deal is part of a rapidly changing health care system. Many hospitals, insurance companies and doctors' practices are merging to boost their buying power. Prescription drug makers are facing more pressure to keep prices and costs under control.

Severe cold weather in much of the country is pushing up the cost of energy. Natural gas prices rose 5 percent this morning on wholesale markets. Supplies fell last week as demand increased. In some states the price of propane has been soaring. Oil prices are above $100 a barrel. That's putting pressure on gasoline costs for motorists.

The stock market re-opens this morning after a holiday weekend. Last week the S&P 500 wiped out almost all of its loss for the year after a big slump in January. The index is less than 1 percent away from its last record close reached just over a month ago. Asian stocks rose overnight. In Tokyo, the Nikkei rose more than 3 percent after the Bank of Japan said it was doubling the size of its fund to support bank lending.

Jobs and unemployment are Americans number 1 concern. A new Gallup poll says nearly one in four Americans mention jobs and unemployment as the most important problem facing the country, up from 16 percent in January. The government and politicians had topped the list since the government shutdown in October.

Google is getting serious about account security, buying SlickLogin. The Israeli firm is known for a sound-based security system that can act as a second level of security. The new system puts out an almost silent sound that a smartphone app can identify. Once the phone recognizes the signal, it sends a message back to the computer verifying the user's identity.

Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC News Radio abcnews.com Twitter: daviesnow

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