$16M settlement reached over Toyota safety issues

LOS ANGELES - A $16 million settlement over the safety recall of Toyota vehicles that were at risk for unintended acceleration and braking issues was announced Friday by Orange County prosecutors and Toyota Motor Corp.

The suit was one of a flood of cases brought against the automaker after more than 14 million vehicles were recalled in 2009 and 2010 - many of them still waiting to be heard or settled.

In the suit, Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas claimed deceptive business practices, alleging Toyota had concealed safety issues related to its floor mats and "sticky" gas pedal issues. The suit sought $2,500 per violation under California's consumer protection laws.

Under the settlement, Toyota continues to deny all the claims made by the suit.

Tyson agrees to penalties to resolve EPA case

ST. LOUIS - Tyson Foods Inc. will pay roughly $4 million in civil penalties to settle allegations related to eight accidental anhydrous ammonia releases that caused multiple injuries and one death over four years, the Environmental Protection Agency and the company said Friday.

Study: Mexican wages fall below Chinese levels

MEXICO CITY - Mexico is looking to penetrate the Chinese market after a new report suggested that Mexican labor costs have fallen below those of China.

President Enrique Peña Nieto visited Hong Kong on Friday, and said, "I am convinced that Mexican products should take advantage of the dynamism of China's markets."

Just a decade ago, Mexico's prospect of exporting much to China seemed distant. Mexican average labor costs were then almost double China's.

But a report by a chief economist for Bank of America Merrill Lynch this week estimated that Mexico's labor costs are now 19.6 percent lower than China's. The study cites the bank's own estimates and official data indicating a big increase in China's costs.

Americans borrow more; trade deficit shrinks

WASHINGTON - In U.S. financial reports Friday:

• Americans borrowed more in February to buy cars and attend school, but were more careful with their credit cards, the Federal Reserve said.

• The U.S. trade deficit unexpectedly narrowed in February as exports climbed close to an all-time high and the volume of imported crude oil fell to the lowest level in 17 years, the Commerce Department said.

KFC to offer easy-to-eat boneless chicken

In case Americans want to scarf down their fast-food even faster, KFC is stripping the bones out of its chicken. The chain is introducing deep-fried, boneless pieces on April 14, saying nearly four out of five servings of chicken sold in the U.S. are now boneless.

The Associated Press