UnitedHealth expected to raise rates; also: Cleveland Cliffs to build biomass plant, and Best Buy launches wish list tool

Analysts say they expect UnitedHealth Group to raise prices after a competitor increased its rates, the Associated Press reports. Humana‘s hikes will cost it more than 300,000 Medicare and Medicaid prescription drug members, the company said, but Wall Street applauded the move. UnitedHealth, like Humana, has been struggling, and they both recently downgraded profit forecasts for the year.

An Ohio mining firm plans to build a $15 million biomass-production plant in the Iron Range town of Orr. Cleveland Cliffs owns several mines in Minnesota and recently acquired a Rosemount company called Renewafuel. It makes briquettes from things such as wood waste, switchgrass and other plant material. The product burns at a similar intensity to coal but with a fraction of the pollution. I profiled the company before here and here.

Best Buy quietly launched a gift-registry tool earlier this week called Giftag. Users download a free application that works with their web browser. The software lets shoppers add items to their wishlist from any e-commerce website, not just BestBuy.com. The Consumerist blog is asking readers to compare the Best Buy app to similar ones, including Amazon’s Universal Wishlist, WishList.com and Wishlistr.com. Anyone tried it out yet? Thoughts?

Do you have an inside scoop or news tip about a Minnesota company? Spotted something interesting in your RSS reader? Drop Business Agenda a note at dhaugen [at] minnpost [dot] com.

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