Business Highlights

AP News
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Posted: Mar 19, 2015 6:42 PM

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Why Fed won't have a big impact on your loans anytime soon

NEW YORK (AP) — Nobody knows when exactly, but the day will eventually come when the Federal Reserve nudges its benchmark lending rate from next to zero to something slightly higher.

When that happens, it will put upward pressure on borrowing rates throughout the economy — for credit cards, mortgages and student loans. But that doesn't mean the era of incredibly low interest rates will soon be over.

The Fed's chair, Janet Yellen, has taken pains to be cautious. On Wednesday, the central bank gave more signals that it will move slowly toward its first interest-rate increase in nearly a decade. By the end of the year, Fed officials expect the benchmark rate will reach 0.625 percent.

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Judge OKs $10 million settlement in Target data breach

A Minnesota judge has endorsed a settlement in which Target Corp. will pay $10 million to settle a class-action lawsuit over a massive data breach in 2013.

People affected by the breach can file for up to $10,000 with proof of their losses, including unauthorized charges, higher fees or interest rates, and lost time dealing with the problem.

U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson granted preliminary approval of the settlement after a hearing Thursday in St. Paul, Minnesota. The move will allow people to begin filing claims ahead of another hearing for final approval, which was scheduled for Nov. 10.

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Big in Asia, Line app hopes cute factor will win worldwide

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Mickey Mouse, Hello Kitty: Move over. And make way for laidback Brown bear and his irrepressible girlfriend Cony the bunny.

Once just digital stickers that users of mobile messaging app Line send to each other like emoticons, the bear, the bunny and their seven friends will soon be unleashed through stores, virtual reality and possibly an animated film.

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Yellow cabs now outnumbered by Uber cars on NYC streets

NEW YORK (AP) — New York City's storied yellow cabs are taking a back seat to black cars.

Uber cars, often black sedans that can be summoned with smartphone apps, now outnumber the yellow taxis that city riders have hailed with a whistle and a wave for generations.

It was a changing-of-the-guard moment that passed with little fanfare this week in figures released by the city's Taxi and Limousine Commission: 14,088 registered Uber cars compared with 13,587 yellow cabs.

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Poll: Little change in desire for action on inequality

DENVER (AP) — Interest in income inequality is all the rage in public debate nowadays, with political figures from Sen. Elizabeth Warren on the left to Republican presidential prospect Jeb Bush on the right decrying the widening gap between the wealthy and everyone else.

But Americans aren't nearly as fascinated by the issue as their leaders seem to be. The public's focus on income inequality has remained stagnant over the past 36 years, according to the General Social Survey, which measures trends in opinion. Republican support for the government doing something to narrow the gap between rich and poor reached an all-time low in 2014, and even Democrats were slightly less interested in government action to address the issue than they were two years ago.

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Applications for US jobless aid barely rose last week

WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits basically held steady last week, as the job market continues to outpace broader economic growth.

The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly applications for unemployment aid rose slightly by 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 291,000. Jobless claims have been subdued for the past two weeks after winter storms caused them to spike at the end of February due to closed schools and construction sites.

The four-week average, a less volatile measure, increased 2,250 to 304,750. That average has dropped 7.5 percent over the past year.

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Average US rate on 30-year mortgage falls to 3.78 percent

WASHINGTON (AP) — Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates fell this week, remaining near historically low levels at the start of the spring home-buying season.

Mortgage giant Freddie Mac said Thursday the national average for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage declined to 3.78 percent from 3.86 percent last week.

The average rate for a 15-year mortgage, popular with homeowners who refinance, slipped to 3.06 percent from 3.10 percent last week.

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Gauge of US economy up modest 0.2 percent in February

WASHINGTON (AP) — An index designed to predict the future health of the economy rose by a modest amount for a second straight month, indicating the economy's momentum may have slowed.

The New York-based Conference Board said its index of leading indicators rose 0.2 percent last month, matching the January Increase. The gains in both months were the smallest since the index rose by just 0.1 percent in August.

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BNY Mellon settles suits on currency transactions for $714M

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York and federal authorities have reached a $714 million settlement with Bank of New York Mellon in lawsuits alleging it fraudulently represented rates for client currency transactions for a decade.

Lawsuits filed in 2011 said BNY Mellon misrepresented rates it would give currency exchanges, providing clients nearly the worst rates of the trading day while promising the best, obtaining the best rates for itself and keeping the difference.

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Honda adds 105,000 vehicles to driver's air bag recall

DETROIT (AP) — Honda is adding nearly 105,000 vehicles to its growing U.S. recall of driver's side air bag inflators that can explode with too much force.

The added vehicles include nearly 89,000 Pilot SUVs from the 2008 model year, as well as about 11,000 Civics from 2004 and another 5,000 Accords from the 2001 model year.

Honda said that it's the first recall of 2008 Pilots for potential problems with driver's air bags made by Takata Corp. of Japan. The inflators can blow apart a metal canister and spew shrapnel into drivers and passengers. At least six people have died worldwide due to the problem.

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Study: Fast-food limits didn't cut obesity rate in South LA

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A much-hailed law that restricted the opening of new stand-alone fast-food restaurants in one of the poorest sections of Los Angeles did not curb obesity or improve diets, a new study found.

City lawmakers passed the zoning ordinance in 2008 that limited the opening or expansion of fast-food outlets in a 32-square-mile area south of Interstate 10 that struggles with high obesity rates and other health problems.

The law, believed to be the first effort of its kind by a major city to improve public health, did not ban new eateries in strip malls.

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Thousands stranded as Lufthansa strike grounds flights

BERLIN (AP) — Thousands of international travelers were stranded Thursday as a strike by Lufthansa pilots was extended to long-haul flights, and Germany's largest airline said it was preparing for even more cancellations on Friday.

After cancelling 84 of 153 of its long-haul flights on Thursday, affecting 18,000 passengers, Lufthansa said another 790 flights would have to be called off Friday as the Vereinigung Cockpit union shifted focus again to short- and medium-haul runs.

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US hopes reward offers can help net foreign cyber criminals

WASHINGTON (AP) — The FBI considers Evgeniy Bogachev one of the world's most prolific and brilliant cyber criminals, slapping his photos — bald, beefy-faced and smiling faintly — on "Wanted" fliers posted online. The Russian would be an ideal target for prosecution — if only the Justice Department could find him.

Unable to capture him in the 10 months since his indictment, the government has turned to a time-honored technique long used for more conventional crime: putting a bounty on Bogachev's head.

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Tesla updating Model S to ease range anxiety, improve safety

DETROIT (AP) — Tesla Motors is updating its Model S electric car to help ease drivers' worries about running out of battery charge — and is hinting that in the future drivers can take their hands off the wheel altogether.

Tesla's latest update — which will be beamed to owners automatically in about 10 days — will map out the best route to a driver's destination based on the location of charging stations and will guide the car to available spots to charge.

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 117.16 points, or 0.6 percent, to 17,959.03. The Standard & Poor's 500 fell 10.23 points, or 0.5 percent, to 2,089.27. The Nasdaq composite rose 9.55 points, or 0.2 percent, to 4,992.38.

Benchmark U.S. crude fell 70 cents to close at $43.96 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, fell $1.48 to close at $54.43 in London. Wholesale gasoline fell 2.5 cents to close at $1.774 a gallon. Heating oil fell 5.1 cents to close at $1.722 a gallon. Natural gas fell 10.7 cents to close at $2.813 per 1,000 cubic feet.