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Kroger’s board of directors OKs quarterly dividend

BY Allison Cerra

CINCINNATI — Kroger’s board of directors declared a quarterly dividend of 10.5 cents per share, the same payout amount as January.

The dividend will be paid June 1 to shareholders of record as of the close of business on May 16.

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Sanofi, Regeneron disclose results of phase-3 trial for aflibercept

BY Alaric DeArment

TARRYTOWN, N.Y. — While failing to improve overall survival, an investigational treatment for non-small cell lung cancer made by Sanofi-Aventis and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals did keep the disease from worsening and, overall, caused patients to respond to treatment, according to results of a late-stage clinical trial.

Sanofi and Regeneron announced Thursday results of the phase-3 “VITAL” trial of aflibercept. Patients were administered either the drug or placebo in addition to docetaxel chemotherapy.

“Bringing new and innovative cancer therapies to patients can be incredibly challenging, especially in difficult-to-treat cancers, such as second-line non-small cell lung cancer,” Sanofi-Aventis SVP and global oncology head Debasish Roychowdhury said. “Our phase-3 trials of aflibercept in metastatic colorectal cancer and hormone-refractory metastatic prostate cancer are under way to determine the clinical potential of aflibercept for patients with these advanced cancers.”

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February retail sales show biggest gain in four months

BY Allison Cerra

WASHINGTON — U.S. retail sales rose 1% in February to $387.1 billion, the U.S. Census Bureau reported Friday.

This marks the biggest sales gain in four months, the government agency said, with sales also being 8.9% above the year-ago period. Digging deeper, grocery store sales saw a 0.5% gain from January and rose to nearly $41.8 million, while health and personal care stores experienced a 0.3% decline from last month, dropping to $21.4 million.

Although advanced estimates for pharmacies and drug stores are not included in the report, the U.S. Census Bureau noted sales for the sector dropped to $18.9 million from $21 million in December 2010.

Commenting on the advance sales report, the National Retail Federation’s president and CEO, Matthew Shay, said the sales reflected improved consumer sentiment as it relates to sales. “Retailers have done a commendable job keeping their inventory levels where they need to be, while still offering attractive promotions for those who are eager to spend,” Shay said. “The big challenge retailers will face in the coming months, however, will be going head to head with high cotton, food and energy prices.”

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