Business Highlights

AP News
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Posted: Mar 31, 2016 5:18 PM

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Affordable Model 3 is Tesla's biggest test yet

DETROIT (AP) — The promise of an affordable electric car from Tesla Motors had hundreds of people lining up to reserve one.

Tesla's Model 3 doesn't go on sale until late 2017, but potential buyers could reserve one with a $1,000 deposit at Tesla stores starting Thursday morning. Long lines were reported around the world.

At a starting price of $35,000 the Model 3 is less than half the cost of Tesla's previous models. The car is expected to have a range of at least 200 miles when fully charged, about double what drivers get from competitors in its price range.

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Augmented reality mapping out tech's next mind-bending trip

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Virtual reality is a trip, but an even wilder ride could be around the corner as mind-bending startups and technology trendsetters try to emblazon the world with interactive holograms that enlighten, entertain and empower us.

The concept, known as augmented reality, looks like something out of a science-fiction movie. It hasn't yet advanced as far as virtual reality, which is getting attention with this week's release of the much-hyped Oculus Rift headset from Facebook.

But augmented reality has the potential to touch far more people because it's designed as a seamless supplement to everyday living instead of an escape into the artificial dimensions conjured by VR.

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Stocks slip, ending a turbulent quarter on a quiet note

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks closed mostly lower on Thursday, with chemicals and agricultural companies taking the largest losses. The price of gold continued its long surge. Trading was quiet on the final day of a stormy first quarter that produced surprising gains.

Indexes were little changed for most of the day, then gradually slid from small gains to small losses in the afternoon. A shaky industry outlook hurt agriculture, fertilizer and farm equipment companies.

Gold prices inched higher to complete their biggest quarterly gain in almost 30 years. The Dow Jones industrial average and Standard & Poor's 500 index, both of which were down more than 10 percent last month, finished the quarter higher.

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US applications for jobless aid rise, but still near lows

WASHINGTON (AP) — More Americans sought unemployment benefits last week, but applications still stayed near historic lows that point to a stable job market.

Applications for jobless aid rose 11,000 to a seasonally adjusted 276,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. The less-volatile four-week average rose 3,500 to 263,250. The number of people receiving unemployment checks has fallen 6.3 percent over the past year to 2.17 million.

Employers are confident that the U.S. economy will continue to grow, after global pressures and an uneven stock market stirred concerns at the start of the year. Applications are a proxy for layoffs, so the steady lows indicate that businesses are still looking to hire.

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California Assembly OKs highest minimum wage in nation

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The California Assembly on Thursday approved a plan that would create the highest statewide minimum wage in the nation of $15 an hour by 2022.

The proposal now moves on to the state Senate for consideration. The state of New York is considering a similar measure.

Gov. Jerry Brown and Democrats who control both legislative chambers hailed the increase as a boon to more than 2 million of California's poorest workers and an example to the nation as it struggles with a growing gap between rich and poor.

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Eurozone inflation rate remains below zero in March

LONDON (AP) — In spite of a modest improvement in inflation that had its roots in the services sector, consumer prices across the 19-country eurozone fell in the year to March for the second month running, official figures showed Thursday.

In its estimate for the month, Eurostat, the European Union's statistics agency, said the headline inflation rate was minus 0.1 percent against the previous month's reading of minus 0.2 percent. The modest uptick was in line with market expectations following recent figures showing a solid pick-up in German inflation.

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Struggling steel industry sparks crisis in UK

LONDON (AP) — The British government scrambled Thursday to save the country's struggling steel industry after Tata Steel announced plans to sell its U.K. plants, which employ almost 20,000 people.

Prime Minister David Cameron held a crisis meeting at 10 Downing St., and said the government would do "everything it can" to keep steelmaking in Britain.

The steel industry in Britain, like many developed economies, has been hit hard by cheap Chinese imports, which have depressed prices, and manufacturers have asked the government and European Union to impose anti-dumping duties.

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GE asks US to drop "systemically important" tag for Capital

NEW YORK (AP) — General Electric Co. asked the U.S. to drop the "too big to fail" tag for GE Capital, saying that its financing operations are a shadow of what they were.

The company has been in broad retreat over the past year from its financial ventures, returning to its industrial roots.

GE Capital was listed as a "systemically important financial institution," by the government following the financial collapse of 2008, a company deemed to be so large and entwined with the U.S. financial system that it could threaten the entire economy if it failed.

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Ford recalls 38,000 vans to fix side curtain air bags

DETROIT (AP) — Ford says it's recalling about 38,000 Transit vans in the U.S. and Canada because the side curtain air bags may not protect people properly in a crash.

The recall covers low-roof Transit vans from the 2015 and 2016 model years. The company says the bags on either side of the vans may have been folded incorrectly. They may not inflate at the proper angles to protect drivers or passengers. Ford says no crashes or injuries have been reported.

The affected vans were built from March 12, 2014 through March 18, 2016.

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FTC accuses Endo, other drugmakers of antitrust violations

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — The Federal Trade Commission has accused several drugmakers of violating antitrust laws, via agreements the commission said delayed the U.S. launches of cheaper generic versions of two popular pain treatments..

The FTC alleges Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc., maker of Opana ER pain pills and the Lidoderm pain patch, paid Impax Laboratories Inc. and Watson Laboratories Inc., respectively, to delay selling their approved generic versions.

It's the first so-called "pay for delay" case brought by the commission in which a drug's original maker agreed not to sell its own "authorized generic" version until well after a generic drugmaker began selling its product.

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Monaco, UK probe 'vast corruption scandal' in oil business

PARIS (AP) — Monaco's government is joining British investigators in unraveling "a vast corruption scandal" implicating an unspecified number of international oil companies, the tiny European principality said in a statement released late Thursday.

The statement said several executives of the Monaco-based company UNAOIL had been questioned over the past few days and that their homes and headquarters had been searched following an urgent request from Britain's Serious Fraud Office.

Few further details were made available and Monaco's government did not immediately return messages. A UNAOIL spokeswoman said the company "has no comment at this time." The Serious Fraud Office also declined comment.

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The Dow Jones industrial average fell 31.57 points, or 0.2 percent, to close at 17,685.09. The Standard & Poor's 500 shed 4.21 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,059.74 The Nasdaq composite index rose 0.55 points to 4,869.85.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose 2 cents to $38.34 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, added 34 cents, or 0.9 percent, to $39.60 a barrel in London. In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline dipped 1 cent to $1.43 a gallon. Heating oil rose two cents, or 2 percent, to $1.18 a gallon. Natural gas fell 4 cents, or 1.9 percent, to $1.96 per 1,000 cubic feet.