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Walmart raises dividend

BY DSN STAFF

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Walmart said Thursday that it is increasing its annual dividend 21% on the back of strong earnings.

The retailer last month reported a 27% increase in fourth-quarter net income as it benefited from cost-cutting and strong international sales. Walmart said it will pay an annual dividend this year of $1.46, up from $1.21. It will pay quarterly dividends of 36.5 cents in April, June, September and January in fiscal 2012, which ends Jan. 31.

The next dividend will be paid on April 4 to shareholders of record on March 11.

Walmart president and CEO Mike Duke said the company was able to boost its dividend because of its earnings performance in fiscal 2011 and its strong financial position.

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NRF welcomes repeal of tax provision in healthcare law

BY DSN STAFF

WASHINGTON — The National Retail Federation said it welcomed the House of Representatives’ vote to repeal a provision in last year’s healthcare-reform law that would widely expand the number of IRS 1099 tax forms businesses would be required to file.

“This is a commonsense step to keep the business community from being hit with a blizzard of unnecessary paperwork that has nothing to do with health care,” NRF SVP government relations David French said. “The important thing now is for the House and Senate to come together on a final version of repeal and settle this issue as quickly as possible. This provision never should have been in the healthcare bill to begin with, and it’s already taken far too long to get it removed.”

The House voted 314-112 to approve H.R. 4, the Small Business Paperwork Mandate Elimination Act, sponsored by Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Calif. The bill would repeal a provision in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 that requires businesses to file a Form 1099 with the Internal Revenue Service whenever they make noncredit-card payments totaling $600 or more to a vendor during a single year.

Other organizations that support the repeal include the National Association of Chain Drug Stores and the National Community Pharmacists Association.

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Study: Potassium levels may be insight to racial disparity among diabetics

BY Allison Cerra

NEW YORK — Researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have discovered that potassium levels in the blood may explain a racial disparity among Type 2 diabetes patients.

According to a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, among 12,000 participants, more than 2,000 African-Americans in the study had lower average serum potassium levels than the more than 9,000 whites in the study. They also were twice as likely to develop Type 2 diabetes.

What’s more, the researchers noted, serum potassium appeared to be a novel risk factor for the disorder that may explain some of the racial disparity in diabetes risk.

The data was collected from the "Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study," information collected from 1987 and 1996.

"This research doesn’t mean people should run out and start taking potassium supplements," said Hsin-Chieh "Jessica" Yeh, an assistant professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and an author of the study. "But we now know lower serum potassium is an independent risk factor for diabetes and that African-Americans have, on average, lower potassium levels than whites. What remains to be seen is if increasing potassium levels through diet or supplementation can prevent the most common form of diabetes."

Nearly 13% of African-Americans older than 20 years are living with diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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