Business Highlights

AP News
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Posted: Mar 30, 2016 5:13 PM

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A long wait: Fliers brace for big security lines at airports

NEW YORK (AP) — An expedited screening program called PreCheck was supposed to be the answer to maddeningly long security lines at the airport. But four years after its launch, the Transportation Security Administration is far short of enrolling enough travelers to make a difference.

Fliers can expect massive security lines across the country, with airlines already warning passengers to arrive early or risk missing their flight.

The TSA cut its airport screener staff, anticipating PreCheck would speed up the process. When not enough fliers enrolled, the agency tried to make up for that shortfall by randomly placing passengers into the express lanes. But it recently scaled back that effort for safety concerns.

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Resolution in FBI-Apple case prolongs larger legal battle

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The FBI's victory in breaking into a killer's iPhone merely prolongs a battle over how far the government can go to examine private messages, photos and other files.

The Justice Department said it no longer needs a court order to force Apple to access the phone. In turn, that means there won't be ruling on whether a centuries-old law, known as the All Writs Act, provided legal authority for compelling Apple's assistance.

Some in the tech industry worry authorities will now try to pursue a smaller company — one without the financial and legal resources of Apple — to win a favorable legal precedent.

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Survey: Solid hiring continues despite weak US growth

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. companies added 200,000 jobs in March, buoyed by strong gains in construction, retail and shipping, according to a private survey.

Payroll processor ADP said Wednesday that financial services firms also posted solid gains, while manufacturing employment barely rose.

The figures point to an economy that is continuing to generate steady hiring, despite worries that growth slowed in the first three months of the year, held back by weak overseas economies and cautious consumers.

The ADP report comes out two days before the U.S. government's official jobs report. The ADP numbers cover only private businesses and often diverge from the official figures.

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Weak global economy is said to threaten government finances

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sluggish global growth threatens to keep governments around the world from being able to pay pensions and bondholders, the chief economist of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said Wednesday.

The OECD, representing mostly advanced economies, has lowered its forecast for worldwide economic growth to 3 percent this year from the 3.3 percent it estimated in November. When growth is weak, governments collect less revenue and struggle to pay pensioners and meet all their debt payments.

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Another gain for US stocks, led by banks and tech companies

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are closing higher on Wall Street again, led by banks and technology stocks.

Several companies gained ground Wednesday after reporting encouraging financial results.

Cruise operator Carnival jumped 6 percent after reporting results that were better than analysts were expecting. Restaurant chain operator Sonic also rose after posting good results.

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Eurozone economic confidence falls to 13-month low

LONDON (AP) — A survey from the European Union's executive arm showed that economic confidence across the bloc fell in March for a third month running to a 13-month low, the latest in a run of figures to indicate that the recovery is losing pace.

In its monthly assessment, the European Commission said its economic sentiment indicator fell 0.9 points to 103.0 in March.

The Commission said the deterioration in sentiment was due to lower confidence among consumers as well as managers in the services and construction sectors. The Commission noted that the survey was conducted before the March 22 attacks on the Brussels airport and subway that killed 32 people.

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Car headlights are keeping drivers in the dark, study finds

WASHINGTON (AP) — Are your car's headlights keeping you in the dark?

The beams on most cars aren't doing a good job of helping drivers see down a dark road at night, according to rating of more than 30 midsized car models.

Only one model, the top trim level Toyota Prius V, earned a grade of good. Of the rest, about one-third were rated acceptable, one-third were marginal and one-third were poor.

The difference between the top- and bottom-rated models for a driver's ability to see down a dark road was substantial, according to the study released Wednesday by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, an industry-funded organization that evaluates automotive safety.

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Valeant tries to delay release of financial statements

NEW YORK (AP) — Troubled Valeant Pharmaceuticals said Wednesday that it wants to delay the release of its financial statements by several weeks to avoid a default of its loans.

The Canadian drug company is asking its lenders to extend the deadline to file its annual report to May 31 from April 29. It also wants to extend the deadline for its first-quarter report to July 31 from June 14.

The company needs an extension because if the annual report is not filed by April 29, it would put Valeant in default with its lenders.

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FDA grants use of experimental blood test for Zika screening

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal health officials are granting use of an experimental test to screen blood donations for Zika virus, an emergency step designed to protect local blood supplies from the mosquito-borne virus.

The FDA said Wednesday that use of the test could be expanded if the virus spreads beyond U.S. territories to other areas of the U.S. Currently no states have reported local, mosquito-transmitted Zika cases. However, some experts say some of the problems facing Puerto Rico now may be repeated later this year in Florida, Texas and other Southern states.

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China proposes new Web rules that could enhance censorship

BEIJING (AP) — China is consolidating its ability to censor the Internet by drafting rules requiring businesses that serve domestic Internet users to register their Web addresses inside the country, a move seen as targeting Chinese companies but that has raised concerns among foreign businesses.

The proposed requirements could also further limit access within the Chinese network, analysts said. That appears to be the latest step by the ruling Communist Party to erect cyber barriers in the name of what some officials call "Internet sovereignty."

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Chipotle files trademark for 'Better Burger'

NEW YORK (AP) — Chipotle apparently has burgers on its mind.

The chain applied for a trademark for "Better Burger" earlier this month, according to a filing with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. A spokesman for Chipotle noted the company has already started a pizza chain concept called Pizzeria Locale and an Asian food chain concept called ShopHouse.

Chipotle, which has more than 2,000 locations, has surged in popularity by touting fresh ingredients and the flexibility to customize orders. More recently, however, it is fighting to recover from a series of food scares that sent sales plunging.

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The Dow Jones industrial average rose 83.55 points, or 0.5 percent, to 17,716.66. The Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 8.94 points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,063.95. The Nasdaq composite index added 22.67 points, or 0.5 percent, to 4,869.29.

U.S. crude rose 4 cents to $38.32 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the benchmark for international oil prices, rose 12 cents to $39.26 a barrel in London. In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline fell 2 cent to $1.44 a gallon. Heating oil was little changed at $1.16 a gallon. Natural gas climbed 2 cents to $2 per 1,000 cubic feet.