Stories you may have missed from the world of business

ENVIRONMENT

Massachusetts using Volkswagen funds on clean air projects

Massachusetts is using money it received from a nationwide settlement with Volkswagen to help electrify the state’s transportation sector and reduce air pollution. The state has designated $7.5 million for 98 projects, including the purchase of electric cars, diesel-hybrid electric waste-collection trucks, liquid-propane-gas school buses, cleaner-diesel trucks and ferry engines, and a marine shore-power installation. The money comes from a settlement with Volkswagen over the company’s illegal tampering of vehicle emissions control equipment. “Through this grant program, many of the underserved populations in our state will now be able to enjoy the clean air benefits of electric vehicles,’’ Governor Charlie Baker said in a written statement. He said the money will be used on projects to put 32 heavy-duty vehicles, eight medium-duty vehicles, 17 buses, two marine engines, 35 pieces of airport ground-support equipment, and three pieces of cargo-handling equipment into operation and install one new marine shore-power site. The new equipment will replace pre-2010 diesel counterparts. Baker said three-quarters of the funding will go towards areas where there are high populations of minority, low-income, or low English proficiency residents. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

ENERGY

Gas prices drop 4 cents per gallon to $2.61

The average price of regular-grade gasoline has dipped 4 cents per gallon to $2.61 over the past two weeks. Industry analyst Trilby Lundberg of the Lundberg Survey said Sunday that pump prices are unlikely to continue to decrease because retailers around the country face higher costs. The price at the pump is 18 cents higher than it was a year ago. The highest average price in the nation for regular-grade gas is $3.62 per gallon, in San Diego. The lowest is $2.14, in Houston. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

RETAIL

Cannabis sales rise ahead of holidays, firm says

Consumers do buy more pot products as the holidays approach. Legal cannabis sales grew 15 percent in the lead-up to Christmas 2018, compared with the week before, according to US data from the cannabis analytics firm Headset. The increase was most dramatic in edibles: Chocolate sales increased 41 percent, while cookie sales were up about 50 percent. It’s ‘‘a lot of the same sweet treats we’re used to during the holidays,’’ Headset said. Cannabis beverages also saw a sales increase on par with that of edibles, possibly because people are ‘‘replacing their nog with five-milligram sodas,’’ or it could be evidence that ‘‘non-drinking cannabis consumers are gravitating towards beverages in situations that involve a lot of social pressure to drink alcohol,’’ Headset said. Buying patterns indicate Christmas shoppers aren’t buying cannabis gifts for loved ones, but rather for themselves, Headset said. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

AVIATION

Cyber attack forces airline to cancel flights in Alaska

RavnAir canceled at least a half-dozen flights in Alaska Saturday following what the company called “a malicious cyber attack” on its computer network. The cancellations affected about 260 passengers, a spokeswoman said. The regional carrier canceled all flights involving Dash 8 aircraft ‘‘because the cyber attack forced us to disconnect our Dash 8 maintenance system and its back-up,” the company said. The airline serves more than 100 communities in Alaska, many of which are not accessible by road.
— ASSOCIATED PRESS

TRADE

Trump lifts threat of tariffs on Brazilian metal

President Trump has backed off a threat to impose tariffs on Brazilian metal, a move that would have broken a previous agreement with the country. President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil wrote in a Facebook post Friday that he had spoken with Trump, and “he decided not to make good on his plan to impose tariffs on our steel / aluminum.” He added that “our commercial relations and friendship are getting stronger every day.” Trump appeared to confirm that he would not be pursuing tariffs, writing on Twitter that he had a “great call” with Bolsonaro. “The relationship between the United States and Brazil has never been Stronger!” he said. On Dec. 2, Trump tweeted that he would impose metal tariffs on Brazil and Argentina, accusing them of weakening their currencies and hurting US farmers. Trump and his advisers have lamented the negative effects of a strong dollar, which makes US goods more expensive overseas. Administration officials have accused a wide range of governments of manipulating their currencies, including China and the European Union. — NEW YORK TIMES

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