Business briefs: Bi-Lo Holdings hires new CEO

JACKSONVILLE -- Bi-Lo Holdings, parent company of Winn-Dixie grocery stores, has appointed a new president and chief executive officer who formerly ran a string of grocery stores in Australia.

Ian McLeod was named president and chief executive officer effective March 2. He succeeds Randall Onstead, who will remain in place through the transition.

In his time running more than 2,200 Coles food, liquor and convenience stores and includes more than 760 full-service supermarkets, he led a major turnaround.

McLeod spent 20 years with ASDA supermarkets, a British supermarket group acquired by Wal-Mart in 1999, where he was a member of the U.K. Management Board and also spent 12 months as a member of the Executive Board of Wal-Mart Germany.

Grain mostly lower, livestock mixed

CHICAGO -- Grain futures were mostly lower Thursday on the Chicago Board of Trade.

Wheat for March delivery fell 3 cents to $5.3375 a bushel; March corn was off 4.25 cents to 3.8375 a bushel; March oats gained .25 cent to $2.91 a bushel; while March soybeans lost 6.75 cents to $9.7675 a bushel.

Beef was mixed and pork was lower on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

April live cattle was off .07 cent to $1.5180 a pound; March feeder cattle rose 1.02 cents to $2.0632 a pound; while April lean hogs were 1.35 cents lower to $.7287 a pound.

U.S. jobless aid applications drop for 1st time in 4 weeks

WASHINGTON -- The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell last week for the first time in a month, a sign that layoffs remain low and hiring is probably still healthy.

The Labor Department says that weekly applications dropped 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 307,000. The decline comes after applications spiked the previous week to a seven-month high.

Most of the volatility reflects widespread layoffs of temporary employees hired by retailers, restaurants and other companies for the winter holidays. The government seeks to adjust the data for those seasonal trends, but doesn't always do so perfectly.

Wells Fargo, JPMorgan settle mortgage kickbacks probe

WASHINGTON -- Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase have agreed to pay more than $35 million combined to resolve claims that loan officers at the two banks received kickbacks in exchange for steering mortgage borrowers to a Maryland title company.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said Thursday that JPMorgan and Wells Fargo each agreed to consent orders filed in federal court to settle the claims.

Wells Fargo has agreed to pay $24 million in civil penalties and $10.8 million to consumers affected by the scheme. JPMorgan is to pay $600,000 in penalties and about $300,000 in redress.

Herald staff ad wire reports