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In brief

Sanofi receives flu ‘seed’

The vaccines division of French pharmaceutical company Sanofi-Aventis SA said Wednesday it has received the key ingredient to make a swine flu vaccine at its facility in Swiftwater, Monroe County.

Sanofi Pasteur said the seed virus provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention allows it to begin a development process, expected to take about two weeks, in preparation for industrial production of the vaccine.

The company said it will be prepared to begin mass production “as soon as directed by public health agencies.” But it will likely take months to make the first batches of the vaccine.

Sanofi Pasteur earlier this week won a $190 million order from the government to make a swine-flu vaccine.

Flat TV sales up

Flat-panel TVs are still flying off the shelves in the U.S. and Canada. Sales of new flat-panel TVs totaled 7.8 million in the first three months of the year, an increase of 17 percent from the same period in 2008, research firm iSuppli Corp. said Wednesday.

Sales had declined in the fourth quarter from the year before, and sales are still declining overseas.

Consumers are looking for cheaper sets, and they’re more likely to go to cheaper stores. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. nearly matched Best Buy Co.’s sales volume, iSuppli said.

Samsung Electronics Co. remained the largest seller of flat panels in the U.S. market.

U.S. bond rating secure

Moody’s Investors Service says the U.S. government’s “AAA” rating is stable despite the country’s swelling debt.

A credit rating of “AAA” is the highest possible. It means the agency sees very little risk of the government defaulting on its debt.

Last week Standard & Poor’s, another ratings agency, raised worries that the United States could lose its “AAA” rating after it warned Britain was at risk for a downgrade.

Stable oil supply expected

Saudi Oil Minister Ali Naimi says there is no need for OPEC to reduce production of oil. Naimi’s comment reinforces sentiment that OPEC oil ministers will decide at their meeting today to continue pumping oil at present levels. The Saudis account for close to a third of total OPEC production and what they say is usually informal policy for the rest of the 12-nation group.

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