Business Highlights

AP News
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Posted: Apr 12, 2016 5:46 PM

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Finance officials facing a chronically weak global economy

WASHINGTON (AP) — World finance officials who meet in Washington this week confront a bleak picture: Eight years after the financial crisis erupted, the global economy remains fragile and at risk of another recession.

The IMF on Tuesday downgraded its outlook for growth for most regions and for the global economy as a whole. It now foresees a weaker financial landscape than it did in January. Like the World Bank and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the IMF has repeatedly overestimated the strength of the world economy in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis.

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Facebook shows new ways to chat, stream video

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Facebook says people who use its Messenger chat service will soon be able to order flowers, shop for shoes and talk with a variety of businesses by sending them direct text messages.

And if you haven't "chatted" with those businesses on Messenger in a while, they'll be able to send you a paid message that offers a special deal or other incentive to shop.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg used Facebook's annual software conference Tuesday to describe its latest initiatives at a time when some reports indicate people may be sharing less personal information on the social network.

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Demand for the new Tesla is wild, but limited to tech fans

DETROIT (AP) — Demand for Tesla's new Model 3 has been eye-popping, with consumers pre-ordering about $13.7 billion worth of the electric sedans nearly two years before they go on sale.

Yet experts aren't yet ready to proclaim it's a tipping point with mainstream America moving from burning gasoline to charging batteries.

The reason? Most of the 325,000 people worldwide who put down $1,000 deposits are tech-savvy, environmentally conscious early adopters who see Tesla as an innovative brand that meets their needs. The $35,000 price tag and the Model 3's 215-mile range are important, but the brand's tech image and CEO Elon Musk's success in cars, rockets and solar panels are the main drivers.

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US budget deficit up sharply to $108 billion in March

WASHINGTON (AP) — The federal government's budget deficit rose sharply in March, pushing the deficit for the first six months of this budget year above the same period a year ago.

The Treasury Department says the deficit for March totaled $108.0 billion. That marks the biggest March deficit in four years and was more than double the imbalance in March 2015. The large jump from a year ago reflected calendar shifts, which had made the 2015 deficit look smaller because $36 billion in benefit payments were shifted into February.

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EU wants companies to disclose where they pay taxes

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union's executive wants thousands of multinationals to disclose in what member states they make money and pay taxes, an effort to close loopholes and crack down on the use of tax havens.

Reacting to public anger over recent revelations of offshore accounts, EU Taxation Commissioner Jonathan Hill said he wanted "to make sure that taxes are paid where profits are generated."

He proposes companies that have over 750 million euros ($850 million) in global revenues and do business in the EU should publish how much income tax they pay in each member state and how much they pay on outside-EU business.

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Garden-care giant to drop chemicals linked to bee declines

DENVER (AP) — Garden-care giant Ortho said Tuesday that it will stop using a class of chemicals widely believed to harm bees as concerns rise about the health of the insects that pollinate a big portion of plants that people eat.

The company plans to phase out neonicotinoids by 2021 in eight products used to control garden pests and diseases. The chemicals, called neonics for short, attack the central nervous systems of insects. Some advocates say neonics are one of several reasons behind declining populations of bees.

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Deutsche Bank halts N.C. plans over law

Deutsche Bank said it is halting plans to add 250 jobs in North Carolina because of a state law limiting protections for lesbians, gays and transgender people.

Previously, the bank had planned to add the jobs through next year in Cary.

But on Tuesday co-executive officer John Cryan said the company is "unwilling to include North Carolina in its U.S. expansion plans for now," because of the law. He said the German bank may revisit the plans later.

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Stephen Hawking joins bid to seek life with tiny spacecraft

NEW YORK (AP) — An Internet investor has enlisted famed physicist Stephen Hawking and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to help him with a futuristic plan for seeking life in outer space.

Yuri Milner announced the $100 million project Tuesday. It's aimed at establishing the feasibility of sending a swarm of tiny spacecraft, each weighing far less than an ounce, to the Alpha Centauri star system.

Powered by energy from a huge, Earth-based laser, the spacecraft would fly at about one-fifth the speed of light. Their target would be a planet with potential for holding life. No such planet has been discovered but experts say one may lurk in the Alpha Centauri.

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Environmental groups sue over pollution from airliners

WASHINGTON (AP) — A coalition of environmental groups sued federal regulators Tuesday over long-sought pollution standards for airliners and cargo planes.

The Center for Biological Diversity and Friends of the Earth filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Washington. The groups allege the Environmental Protection Agency has unreasonably delayed for years using the Clean Air Act to enforce limits on heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft.

Aviation accounts for about 5 percent of global carbon emissions, with U.S.-owned airliners emitting about 30 percent of all aircraft pollution worldwide.

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Comey: FBI, Apple court clash created unproductive 'emotion'

WASHINGTON (AP) — FBI Director James Comey says he's glad a court fight in California over access to a locked iPhone has ended because it "was creating an emotion around the issue that was not productive."

Comey told law school students Tuesday that he is confident that lawsuits aren't the best solution for resolving the clash between privacy and national security.

The Justice Department in February asked a judge to force Apple Inc. to help the FBI hack into an iPhone used by a gunman in the mass killing in San Bernardino, California. But that fight effectively ended last month when the FBI said it had managed to access the phone without Apple's help.

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The Dow Jones industrial average rose 164.84 points, or 0.9 percent, to 17,721.25. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 19.73 points, or 1 percent, to 2,061.72. The Nasdaq composite index rose 38.69 points, or 0.8 percent, to 4,872.09.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil climbed $1.81, or 4.5 percent, at $42.17 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the international standard, rose $1.86 to $44.69 a barrel in London. In other energy commodities, heating oil rose 6 cents to $1.276 a gallon, wholesale gasoline rose 3 cents to $1.534 a gallon and natural gas rose 9 cents to $2.004 per thousand cubic feet.