Dow Chemical sees recovery

MIDLAND, Mich. (AP) -- Dow Chemical Co. on April 28 reported strong quarterly results as it benefited from growing demand and price increases.

Net income rose to $466 million from just $24 million a year ago. The nation's largest chemical maker said the results show that demand is growing in developed markets, which were hit hardest by the recession. Strong growth in emerging markets continues to boost the manufacturing sector, Dow said.

Dow also said that consumer spending has strengthened in areas such as electronics, appliances and automotive, echoing comments made April 27 by chemical maker DuPont, which also posted strong results.

"Overall the global economic environment is on a stronger footing and there are signs that this will continue for the foreseeable future," CEO Andrew Liveris said in a statement. "This is good news for Dow."

The company's health and agricultural segment suffered a revenue decline due to an oversupply of glyphosate, which hurt demand for the herbicide.

Spain's credit rating drops

LONDON (AP) -- Credit ratings agency Standard & Poor's has downgraded Spain in another widening of Europe's government debt crisis.

The move April 28 follows its reductions of Portugal and Greece, which sent shock waves through world markets.

The agency said its decision to downgrade Spain's credit rating by one notch to AA from AA+ is due to its expectation that the country will suffer an "extended" period of subdued economic growth.

Portugal moves on austerity plan

LISBON, Portugal (AP) -- Portugal's prime minister and the leader of the main opposition party say they have agreed on measures to help steer the country out of a financial crisis that threatens to engulf the eurozone's poorest member.

Jose Socrates, head of the minority Socialist government, and Social Democrat leader Pedro Passos Coelho said they will accelerate the enactment of the government's contested austerity plan by voting together in Parliament.

The pair held emergency talks April 28 as the Lisbon stock market recorded steep losses for a second straight day.

Portugal's borrowing costs rocketed after an international agency downgraded its credit worthiness April 27, signalling that Greece's debt crisis is spreading.

Farmers could profit from smut

IRAPUATO, Mexico (AP) -- Now it is established scientific fact: Smut is good for you. Corn smut, that is.

For years, scientists have assumed that huitlacoche, a gnarly, gray-black corn fungus long savored in Mexico, has nutritional values similar to those of the corn on which it grows. But test results just published in the journal Food Chemistry reveal that an infection that U.S. farmers and crop scientists have spent millions trying to eradicate, is packed with unique proteins, minerals and other nutritional goodies.

Here is a bonus as well: Agricultural economists have found smut can sell for more than the corn it ruins.

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin persuaded a local organic farmer in 2007 to infect a field of corn deliberately with the fungus, and then harvest and sell it.

Their findings: An ear of huitlacoche costs about 41 cents to produce and sells for about $1.20. By comparison, an ear of sweet corn costs about less than a dime -- 10 cents -- with profits of just a few cents per ear.

Wind farm studied in Utah

MONTICELLO, Utah (AP) -- Utah State University researchers say a wind power project near Canyonlands National Park would generate jobs, tax revenue and lease payments for ranchers.

A measuring device left in place for a year near Monticello found that winds blow at an average of nearly 12 mph.

That's enough to justify a wind farm.

Professors Edwin Stafford and Cathy Hartman of the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business evaluated the suitability of a modest-sized wind farm near Monticello.

They calculated a 50-megawatt project would support 51 construction and four permanent jobs.

They say the project would pay $150,000 in annual lease payments and $1.3 million in property taxes.

Stafford and Hartman filed the 28-page study in March for the U.S. Department of Energy.

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