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Morning headlines: Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Akin Expected to Announce Challenge to McCaskill Today

Missouri Congressman Todd Akinmay soon be joining the Republican race to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill next year. Akin is expected to announce his Senate candidacy today at a news conference in Creve Coeur.

Akin has represented a U.S. House district in suburban St. Louis for the past 10 years and previously served for a decade in the Missouri House. If he runs, Akin will join former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman as the only Republican officially in next year's Senate race.

St. Louis businessman John Brunner has said he also is considering a Senate campaign.

Doe Run Co. Announces Proposal for New Smelter in Herculaneum

The Doe Run Co. has unveiled plans to continue processing lead in the eastern Missouri town of Herculaneum, but in a more environmentally friendly way. The St. Louis-based firm announced plans Monday for a new smelter to replace the one it is closing. The plant would use new technology that Doe Run says would significantly reduce emissions.

The company's board must still approve the plan, and executives expect to present final proposals to the board by the end of the year.

Doe Run announced late last year plans to shut down the existing plant at the end of 2013. The new plant would be expected to open by the time the old one closes.

Missouri's Unemployment Rate Declines

A new report says Missouri's unemployment rate has fallen to its lowest point in about two years. The state Department of Economic Development says April's jobless rate was 8.9 percent, down two-tenths of a point from March. That's the state's lowest unemployment rate since March 2009.

Monday's monthly report also shows a net gain of 2,500 nonfarm jobs in Missouri last month. The agency says the biggest growth came in construction, manufacturing and retail trade.