business news in context, analysis with attitude

• The Conference Board reports that its Consumer Confidence Index rose to 68.1 in April, up from 61.9 in March. In addition, the percentage of survey respondents who expect business conditions to improve over the next six months went from 15 percent in March to 16.9 percent in April.

However, the Conference Board says it is too soon to tell if a long term improvement in consumer confidence is taking place.

• Consumers Union, the public policy arm of Consumer Reports, has begun running advertisements and social media promotions in Los Angeles, Washington, DC., and Portland, oregon, urging Trader Joe's "to stop selling meat and poultry from animals raised on antibiotics.  The ad highlights how the overuse of antibiotics by the meat and poultry industries on healthy livestock is promoting the spread of drug resistant superbugs that threaten public health."

Consumers Union launched its Meat Without Drugs campaign last year to convince grocery stores – starting with Trader Joe’s – to sell only meat raised without antibiotics. 

According to the announcement of the advocacy ads, "Over 500,000 consumers have signed petitions, postcards, and flyers in support of Consumers Union’s campaign.  However, Trader Joe’s has refused to change their practices or even meet with Consumers Union to discuss the issue.  Trader Joe’s offers some chicken, turkey, and beef raised without antibiotics, but no pork.  While this is a step in the right direction, it doesn’t go far enough, according to Consumers Union."

Reuters reports that "a shareholder in OfficeMax Inc sued the directors of the company on Thursday, seeking to block its acquisition by larger rival Office Depot Inc , calling the proposed $1.2 billion all-stock deal 'grossly inadequate'. The proposed merger which seeks to help the two suppliers of office goods slash costs amid fierce competition from online competitors, has also been criticized for lacking details and comes at a time when Office Depot is under fire from an activist investor."
KC's View: