Business digest: Grumpy Cat to be face of a Friskies brand

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Posted: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 12:00 am

Grumpy Cat has an endorsement deal. The frown-faced Internet sensation, real name Tardar Sauce, is now the “spokescat” for a Friskies brand of cat food, Nestle Purina PetCare said Tuesday. Photos of Grumpy Cat, her face in a constant scowl, have been all over Facebook and other social media, often with crabby messages such as “I don't like days that end in Y.” Grumpy Cat's Facebook page has more than 1.3 million likes. The 1-year-old mixed-breed feline also has a merchandise line and reportedly a movie deal in the works. “She's very busy,” Friskies spokeswoman Julie Catron said. The cat's owner is Tabatha Bundesen of Phoenix.

Coming off of a weak back-to-school shopping period, a research firm expects holiday sales growth will be slower this year during the crucial holiday season. Shoppers are also expected to visit fewer stores as they research purchases online. Retail revenue in November and December should rise 2.4 percent during the biggest shopping period of the year, Chicago-based research firm ShopperTrak said Tuesday. That compares with a 3 percent increase in 2012 from 2011. “Although the economy continues to recover slowly, consumers remain cautious about spending and are not ready to splurge,” said ShopperTrak founder Bill Martin.

U.S consumer prices barely rose last month, the latest sign that slow economic growth is keeping inflation tame. The consumer price index increased just 0.1 percent in August, the Labor Department said Tuesday, after a 0.2 percent increase in July. Excluding volatile food and energy costs, core prices also rose just 0.1 percent. In the past 12 months, prices have risen 1.5 percent. That's down from the 2 percent year-over-year gain in July and below the Federal Reserve's 2 percent inflation target. Core prices are 1.8 percent higher than a year ago, the largest 12-month gain since March.

U.S. homebuilders' confidence in the housing market held this month at its highest level in nearly eight years. The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index released Tuesday registered at 58 this month. That's unchanged from August, which was revised down from an initial reading of 59. Readings above 50 indicate more builders view sales conditions as good, rather than poor.

The Obama administration has approved new rules that extend minimum wage and overtime protections to home health care workers. The rules give a long-awaited boost to nearly 2 million workers who spend their days helping the elderly and disabled with everyday tasks such as bathing, eating or taking medicine. Home care aides have been exempt from federal wage laws since 1974, when they were placed in the same category as neighborhood baby sitters. But their ranks have surged with the aging population and the field is now one of the fastest-growing professions.

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