Business Highlights

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US finally regains the jobs lost in the recession

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. economy has regained all the private-sector jobs it lost during the Great Recession.

Yet it took a painfully slow six years, and unemployment remains stubbornly high at 6.7 per cent.

The comeback figures were contained in a government report Friday that showed a solid if unspectacular month of job growth in March.

Businesses and nonprofits shed 8.8 million jobs during the 2007-09 recession; they have since hired 8.9 million. But because the population has grown since the big downturn, most analysts were hardly celebrating.

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Health insurance isn’t a year-round thing anymore

WASHINGTON (AP) — Here’s more fallout from the health care law: Until now, customers could walk into an insurance office or go online to buy standard health care coverage any time of year. Not anymore.

Many people who didn’t sign up during the government’s open enrolment period that ended Monday will soon find it difficult or impossible to get insured this year, even if they go directly to a private company and money is no object. For some it’s already too late.

With limited exceptions, insurers are refusing to sell to individuals after the enrolment period for HealthCare.gov and the state marketplaces. They will lock out the young and healthy as well as the sick or injured. Those who want to switch plans also are affected. The next wide-open chance to enrol comes in November for coverage in 2015.

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Mozilla CEO resignation raises free speech issues

SAN JOSE, California (AP) — The resignation of Mozilla’s CEO amid outrage that he supported an anti-gay marriage campaign is prompting concerns about how Silicon Valley’s liberal culture might quash the very openness that is at the region’s foundation.

Mozilla co-founder Brendan Eich stepped down Thursday as CEO, just days after his appointment. He left the non-profit maker of the Firefox browser after attacks, largely on Twitter, over his $1,000 contribution to support of a now-overturned 2008 gay-marriage ban in California.

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Wall Street orders up GrubHub in market debut

NEW YORK (AP) — Wall Street has a major craving for takeout.

Investors sent shares of GrubHub Inc. up more than 30 per cent Friday in an initial public offering that gave the online food ordering service a market capitalization of nearly $2.7 billion.

GrubHub is one of four companies to go public Friday in what has been a hot IPO market, especially for businesses in the cloud software and biotech industries. There have been 71 IPOs priced this year, more than double the amount from the same time last year, according to IPO investment adviser and research company Renaissance Capital.

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US: Justice investigating high-speed trading

The Department of Justice is investigating high-frequency stock trading to see if any of the practices violate insider trading laws, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said Friday.

Brokerage firms use high-frequency trading to get a jump on their competitors. Powerful computers analyze market information and then execute buy and sell orders for stocks within a fraction of a second.

The practice has come under increasing scrutiny in recent months. The FBI confirmed this week that it has been investigating high-frequency trading firms for about a year. The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that investigators were examining the practice of placing a group of trades and then cancelling them to create the false appearance of market activity.

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States rebel against powerful new painkiller

BARRE, Vt. (AP) — State officials around the country are rebelling over a powerful new painkiller that law enforcement and public health authorities fear could worsen the nation’s deadly scourge of heroin and prescription drug abuse.

On Thursday, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin announced an emergency order that would make it harder for doctors to prescribe Zohydro, an extended-release capsule that contains up to five times the amount of narcotic hydrocodone previously available in pills.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick went even further last week, ordering an outright ban on prescribing and dispensing Zohydro until it is marketed in a form that is difficult to abuse.

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Nest disables feature on smoke alarms

NEW YORK (AP) — The high-tech home monitoring device company Nest Labs is disabling a feature on its smoke alarms due to the risk that owners could unintentionally turn off the device with the wave of a hand.

Nest was acquired this year by Google Inc. for $3.2 billion.

Nest developed technology which it calls the Nest Wave that allows owners to turn off the Nest Protect: Smoke + Carbon Monoxide alarm at a distance, among other things.

Founder and CEO Tony Fadell said on the company’s website, however, that a “unique combination of circumstances” could delay an alarm going off in the event of a real fire.

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Philip Morris Int’l to cease cigarette production in Netherlands

NEW YORK (AP) — Philip Morris International will end cigarette production at its factory in the Netherlands as Europeans break the smoking habit for both financial and health reasons.

The company said Friday that it has started talks with employee representatives on a proposal to end production at the factory in Bergen op Zoom. If production is ended, it could impact about 1,230 of the current 1,371 employees.

Philip Morris International Inc., based in New York, reports that in the last four years, cigarette volumes have weakened in Europe due to economic softness, illicit trade and as consumers shifting to cheaper alternative products. The company said that volume recovery is highly unlikely.

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones Industrial average dropped 159.84 points, or 1 per cent, to 16,412.71. The technology-heavy Nasdaq composite index plunged 110.01 points, or 2.6 per cent, to close at 4,127.73, its biggest one-day drop since February. The S&P 500 index fell 23.68 points, or 1.3 per cent, to 1,865.09.

Benchmark U.S. crude for May delivery rose 85 cents to close at $101.14 a barrel in New York.

Brent crude, used to set prices for international varieties of oil used by many U.S. refiners, rose 57 cents to close at $106.62 a barrel in London.

Wholesale gasoline rose 1.9 cents to close at $2.931 a gallon.

Natural gas fell 3.1 cents to close at $4.439 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Heating oil gained edged up 0.2 cent to $2.908 a gallon.

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