Business Highlights

AP News
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Posted: May 06, 2016 6:10 PM

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Hiring slowdown in April may signal caution about US economy

WASHINGTON (AP) — American employers signaled their caution about a sluggish economy by slowing their pace of hiring in April after months of robust job growth.

At the same time, companies raised pay, and their employees worked more hours — a combination that lifted income and, if sustained, could quicken the U.S. expansion.

As a whole, the government's report Friday pointed to an American job market that continues to generate steady hiring, though at a rate that may be starting to slow. Employers added 160,000 jobs in April, well below the average gain of 243,000 in the prior six months. But the unemployment rate remained a low 5 percent, roughly where it's been since last fall.

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US consumer borrowing jumps 10 percent in March

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. consumers sharply increased use of their credit cards in March, pushing up total borrowing at the fastest pace in more than a decade.

The Federal Reserve reported Friday that total consumer borrowing rose $29.7 billion in March, a 10 percent jump from the previous month. It was the largest percentage gain since a surge of 18.4 percent in November 2001, when consumer borrowing surged in response to government officials urging Americans to boost spending to support the economy following the September terrorist attacks.

Total borrowing rose to a fresh record of $3.59 trillion. Borrowing in the category that includes credit cards jumped $11.1 billion, or 14.2 percent, the biggest one-month gain in this category since July 2000. Borrowing for auto and student loans rose $18.6 billion, up 8.5 percent.

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A Trump proposal for national debt would send rates soaring

WASHINGTON (AP) — In the event that the U.S. economy crashed, Donald Trump has floated a recovery plan based on his own experience with corporate bankruptcy: Pay America's creditors less than full value on the U.S. Treasurys they hold.

Experts see it as a reckless idea that would send interest rates soaring, derail economic growth and undermine confidence in the world's most trusted financial asset.

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee suggested in a phone interview Thursday with CNBC that he would stimulate growth through borrowing. If trouble arose, he added, he could get investors to accept reduced payments for their Treasury holdings.

Trump later clarified that comment to say he would offer to buy the bonds back at a discount from investors in hopes of refinancing them at lower rates.

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Fire in Alberta threatens oil production, helps boost price

The massive wildfire in the heart of Canada's oil country is helping send crude prices higher.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose 34 cents to $44.66 a barrel Friday in New York after earlier dropping by nearly 2 percent. Oil prices often spike when there is concern that production could be curtailed.

Canada is the leading exporter of crude oil and natural gas to the United States, according to figures from the Energy Information Administration. Canada sends about 100 million barrels of crude and 240 billion cubic feet of natural gas per month to the U.S.

S&P Global Platts, which tracks the energy industry, estimated that up to 820,000 barrels a day of crude oil production were shut in by the fire, although the number could be lower if facilities were operating below peak capacity.

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Tampa Bay Times' paper buy latest in grim news landscape

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — If a metro area with 2.7 million people can't sustain two newspapers — especially with an aging population with the time and inclination to read a printed paper — can anywhere?

Some say maybe not.

The purchase of the 123-year-old Tampa Tribune in Florida this week by the paper's rival, The Tampa Bay Times, stunned employees and area residents. But media watchers largely shrugged, calling it the latest in a long slide of obsolescence for America's print media.

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Herbalife in advanced settlement talks with FTC, shares soar

NEW YORK (AP) — Shares of Herbalife surged Friday after disclosing that it's in advanced talks to settle a federal investigation into claims that the company essentially operates as a pyramid scheme.

It's a claim that has dogged the company for years and set off what has become an epic battle with activist investor Bill Ackman, who has been waging a campaign against Herbalife since late 2012.

Herbalife, which sells supplements and weight-loss products, said in a regulatory filing that the possible settlement with the Federal Trade Commission "would likely include a monetary payment and injunctive and other relief."

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Czech record maker aims for global dominance

LODENICE, Czech Republic (AP) — As vinyl records make a global comeback, a little-known Czech company is riding the market surge to establish itself as the world's biggest record manufacturer, with plans to expand in North America and Asia.

GZ Media, based in a small town south west of the Czech capital, has made deals with all the major music labels and is running its plant day and night, every day of the year — even on Christmas — to satisfy booming demand.

This summer, in an effort to get closer to the growing American market, it is due to open a new plant in Canada and is finalizing a deal to acquire a majority stake in a factory in the United States.

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Services in Greece grind to halt in 3-day strike

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Services in Greece, from garbage collection to public transport, shut down Friday as workers kicked off three days of strikes to protest new bailout austerity measures that they say will further reduce incomes.

Several thousand people held peaceful demonstrations in central Athens as part of protests that indicate a growing discontent with the left-led coalition government, which was only re-elected last September.

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In California, couple's return to meat sparks vegan uproar

LOS ANGELES (AP) — At the Cafe Gratitude restaurant chain in California, waiters serve plates of vegan rice bowls, vegetable pizzas and tempeh sandwiches with names such as "Gracious," ''Warm-Hearted" and "Magical."

The last two weeks, though, have been anything but kind.

Angry patrons and animal rights activists are calling on vegans to boycott the restaurants after learning that owners Matthew and Terces Engelhart have begun eating meat and consuming animals raised on their private farm.

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Warner Music says streaming revenue bigger than downloads

LOS ANGELES (AP) — In a further sign that the download era is waning, Warner Music Group says it made more money from streaming platforms than any other single source of recorded music revenue in the latest quarter.

Warner claims it is the first of the three majors to hit the milestone. But the others are sure to follow.

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The Dow Jones industrial average rose 79.92 points, or 0.5 percent, to 17,740.63. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 6.51 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,057.14 and the Nasdaq composite rose 19.06 points, or 0.4 percent, to 4,736.16.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose 34 cents to close at $44.66 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, climbed 36 cents to close at $45.37 a barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline rose less than 1 cent to $1.496 a gallon, heating oil rose 1 cent to $1.337 a gallon and natural gas rose 2.5 cents to $2.101 per thousand cubic feet.