Business Highlights

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Once-soaring tech stocks sink in sobering comedown

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The stock market’s laws of gravity are ravaging its highest fliers.

Just look at the list of technology trailblazers whose values have plummeted from record highs during the past few weeks. Investors have re-focused on safer sectors such as utilities, health care and consumer staples instead of companies that promise potential growth from online services that are building huge audiences.

Stung by the abrupt change in sentiment, the stocks of recent stars such as Netflix, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are 20 per cent to 45 per cent below their recent peaks. The steep downfall is raising questions about whether this is just a fleeting fit of fickleness or the foreshadowing of another market bubble about to burst.

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Stocks fall on jitters over earnings, tech rout

NEW YORK (AP) —Investors drove the stock market lower for a second straight day Friday as they grew anxious that earnings growth was faltering.

Weaker earnings at JPMorgan Chase dragged bank stocks lower. And big drops in once-soaring tech stocks pushed the Nasdaq composite down for a third week.

Stocks fell from the open on news that JPMorgan had missed analysts’ earnings estimates. Investors, who were worried that technology shares were overvalued, dumped those for a second day, with some of the biggest gainers of late falling sharply. Facebook fell 1.1 per cent, after a 5 per cent drop on Thursday.

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Savers beware: Fees may be shrinking your 401(k)

WASHINGTON (AP) — It’s the silent enemy in our retirement accounts: High fees.

And now a new study finds that the typical 401(k) fees — adding up to a modest-sounding 1 per cent a year — would erase $70,000 from an average worker’s account over a four-decade career compared with lower-cost options. To compensate for the higher fees, someone would have to work an extra three years before retiring.

The study comes from the Center for American Progress, a liberal think-tank . Its analysis, backed by industry and government data, suggests that U.S. workers, already struggling to save enough for retirement, are being further held back by fund costs.

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Subway: ‘Yoga mat chemical’ almost out of bread

NEW YORK (AP) — Subway says an ingredient dubbed the “yoga mat chemical” will be entirely phased out of its bread by next week.

The disclosure comes as Subway has suffered from an onslaught of bad publicity since a food blogger petitioned the chain to remove the ingredient.

The ingredient, azodicarbonamide, is approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in food as a bleaching agent and dough conditioner. It can be found in a wide variety of products, including those served at McDonald’s, Burger King and Starbucks and breads sold in supermarkets. But its unfamiliar name has an unappetizing ring, and the petition became a flashpoint by noting that the chemical is also used to make yoga mats and isn’t approved for use in some other parts of the world.

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Major economies express confidence about growth

WASHINGTON (AP) — Finance officials of the world’s major economies expressed confidence Friday that they can meet an ambitious goal of boosting global growth by $2 trillion over the next five years.

That’s despite a variety of threats including rising political tensions over Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

Finance ministers and central bank presidents of the leading rich and developing nations issued a joint statement that papered over substantial differences in such areas as central bank interest rate policies and whether to hit Russia with tougher sanctions because of its dealings with Ukraine.

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4 years after spill, questions on long-term health

CHALMETTE, La. (AP) — When a BP oil well began gushing crude into the Gulf of Mexico four years ago, fisherman George Barisich used his boat to help clean up the millions of gallons that spewed in what would become the worst offshore spill in U.S. history.

Like so many Gulf Coast residents who pitched in after the April 20, 2010, explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig, Barisich was motivated by a desire to help and a need to make money — the oil had destroyed his livelihood.

Today he regrets that decision, and worries his life has been permanently altered. Barisich, 58, says respiratory problems he developed during the cleanup turned into pneumonia and that his health has never been the same.

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Coldwater Creek files for bankruptcy protection

SANDPOINT, Idaho (AP) — The women’s clothing retailer Coldwater Creek has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after failing to find a potential buyer or a source of capital to help fund its turnaround efforts.

Coldwater Creek said Friday that its stores and its website are still open and selling clothing and other goods to shoppers.

But it expects to start sales to liquidate its inventory in early May. It plans to hold going out of business sales in the coming months.

The chain said it spent the past six months evaluating its options, but that its declining financial resources, tough retail conditions and its inability to find other viable options drove it to file for bankruptcy protection.

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Exxon CEO’s compensation rises 3 per cent to $28.1M

IRVING, Texas (AP) — The CEO of Exxon Mobil Corp. received compensation worth $28.1 million last year, a 3 per cent increase over the previous year, according to an Associated Press analysis of a company regulatory filing.

Most of Rex W. Tillerson’s compensation was in the form of stock awards, which the largest U.S. oil company valued at $21.3 million when they were granted.

His overall compensation for 2013 was up from $27.2 million in 2012, under The AP’s calculation.

The AP analysis of Tillerson’s compensation considered salary, bonus, perks and the estimated value of stock and option grants that the company reported Friday to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The calculation excluded changes in the present value of Tillerson’s pension benefits.

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Heartbleed could harm a variety of systems

NEW YORK (AP) — It now appears that the “Heartbleed” security problem affects not just websites, but also the networking equipment that connects homes and businesses to the Internet.

A defect in the security technology used by many websites and equipment makers have put millions of passwords, credit card numbers and other personal information at risk. The extent of the damage caused by Heartbleed isn’t known. The threat went undetected for more than two years, and it’s difficult to tell if any attacks resulted from it because they don’t leave behind distinct footprints.

But now that the threat is public, there’s a good chance hackers will try to exploit it before fixes are in place, says Mike Weber, vice-president of the information-technology audit and compliance firm Coalfire.

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones Industrial average fell 143.47 points, or 0.9 per cent, to 16,026.75. The Nasdaq lost 54.37 points, or 1.3 per cent, to end at 3,999.73. The Standard & Poor’s 500 fell 17.39 points, or 1 per cent, to 1,815.69.

Benchmark crude for May delivery edged up 34 cents to $103.74 a barrel. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oil prices, declined 14 cents to $107.32 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

Wholesale gasoline edged up less than a penny to $3.01 a gallon and heating oil fell half a penny to $2.93 a gallon. Natural gas fell four cents to $4.62 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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