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Business Highlights

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Fed: No rate hike until job market improves, inflation rises

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve signalled Wednesday that it needs to see further improvement in the job market and higher inflation before it raises interest rates from record lows.

At the same time, the Fed at least opened the door to a rate increase later this year by no longer saying it will be “patient” in starting to raise its benchmark rate.

The statement the Fed issued after its latest policy meeting appeared to catch investors by surprise in suggesting that a rate increase might be further off than many had assumed. Stock prices surged and bond yields fell. The Dow Jones industrial average, which had been down nearly 100 points before the statement was issued, was up more than 220 points an hour later.

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Starbucks delivery to start in Seattle, New York City

NEW YORK (AP) — Starbucks says it will start delivering to customers in select parts of Seattle and New York City later this year.

The details were discussed at the coffee chain’s annual meeting Wednesday.

In Seattle, it said it will team up with a company called Postmates to deliver to homes and offices within specific areas. In New York City, delivery will be from existing or newly setup Starbucks shops in certain buildings, starting with the Empire State Building.

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Airline world’s tiny secret: infatuation with model planes

NEW YORK (AP) — In America, businessmen shake hands. In Japan, they bow. But all over the world airline executives engage in a greeting that is all their own: the exchange of model airplanes.

When airlines start flying to new cities, make deals with other carriers or finance new jets, these high-quality models — typically one to two feet long — provide the perfect photo backdrop, can help break the ice or serve as a cherished “thank you.”

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How upcoming legal cases may change the future of franchises

NEW YORK (AP) — Are franchises small, independent businesses or should they be considered part of a much larger company?

The question is at the heart of two upcoming legal cases. The outcomes could affect profits and change how franchisees hire, fire, manage and pay workers.

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Review: Can you really save money by cutting the cord?

NEW YORK (AP) — There are more ways to watch television online than ever. Even HBO and ESPN — two channels often cited as reasons people keep expensive cable or satellite TV packages — will be available for streaming on their own. All these offerings make it possible to drop your pay-TV service without giving up favourite shows.

But no single streaming service offers everything. And you still need to pay for your Internet connection, typically at a higher price when unbundled from your TV service. Depending on how and what you watch, cutting the cord won’t necessarily save you money.

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In Portuguese factory, echoes of Europe’s fight for jobs

VILA NOVA DE GAIA, Portugal (AP) — A rusting yellow production line dangles from the ceiling of the cavernous Valadares factory, the long racks of ceramic sinks and toilets whose manufacture once provided jobs for 1,500 people gathering dust in the dim light from high windows.

The Portuguese factory shut down in 2012 amid Europe’s financial crisis, its huge debts and outdated business practices dooming it to bankruptcy. Now, on the factory floor some 10 metres (30 feet) below the symbols of the broken past, a few dozen former employees are back at their jobs and fighting to rebuild their lives after the business was reopened by private investors.

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Global watchdog turns a bit more rosy on world economy

PARIS (AP) — A key international economic watchdog has nudged up its forecast for global economic growth this year in response to low prices and expectations that interest rates will remain low in many leading economies.

The Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, a grouping of the world’s richest countries that acts like a think-tank , said Wednesday that easy and cheap monetary policy in many parts of the world, including Europe, has helped underpin growth. However, it warned that a total reliance on that tool could strain the international financial system.

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General Motors beats a retreat out of Russia

MOSCOW (AP) — General Motors will slash production in Russia and pull its mass-market Opel brand completely in the face of plummeting sales in the economically troubled country.

Mainstream GM brands have been among the biggest losers as Russia’s auto market shrinks, with sales of Chevrolet down 74 per cent year-on-year in February and those of Opel plunging 86 per cent.

Opel will leave the Russian market by December, with Chevrolet production cut back significantly to focus on top-end products such as the Corvette sports car and Tahoe SUV, which are imported into Russia from the U.S.

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AmEx to debut multi-brand customer loyalty program in US

LOS ANGELES (AP) — American Express is preparing to launch a customer loyalty program in the U.S. that will enable shoppers at select retailers rack up points that they can use toward future purchases at Macy’s, Exxon Mobil, AT&T and other participating companies.

The free program, set to debut in May, is dubbed Plenti and will also include Nationwide, Rite Aid, Direct Energy and Hulu, American Express said Wednesday.

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80 years later, how would Atlantic City-based Monopoly look?

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — Monopoly is turning 80.

Based on the real-life streets of Atlantic City, Monopoly is one of the world’s most popular board games.

The greed-driven game, in which competitors try to buy up all the property they can and collect as much cash as possible, has been played by an estimated 1 billion people in 114 countries.

The city’s mayor, Don Guardian, says Monopoly remains relevant in present-day Atlantic City, where the casino industry is shrinking, taxes are rising, and the city and state are racing to build new attractions less dependent on gambling to bring in tourists and their money.

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Supplement company Herbalife sees pyramid-scheme suit tossed

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A judge dismissed a lawsuit by Herbalife shareholders who claimed that the business structure and marketing practices of the weight loss and nutritional supplements company violated the law and that they lost money because it amounts to a pyramid scheme.

Plaintiffs did not show that accusations by activist investor Bill Ackman proved fraud by Herbalife, U.S. District Judge Dale Fischer in Los Angeles wrote in his ruling Tuesday.

Ackman, who runs Pershing Square Capital Management, bet heavily against the company’s stock, describing Herbalife as a pyramid scheme.

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Federal judge dismisses lawsuit over Mayflower oil spill

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A federal class-action lawsuit against Exxon Mobil Corp. over a 2013 crude oil spill in central Arkansas has been dismissed by a federal judge, who acknowledged in his ruling that his decision seems unfair.

U.S. District Judge Brian Miller on Tuesday dismissed the lawsuit with prejudice, meaning it cannot be refiled.

Miller said in a 22-page ruling that he was incorrect in granting class-action status in the case and concluded that the easement contracts Exxon Mobil held with the property owners do not require the company to maintain the pipeline.

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Supporters of higher minimum wage hail judge’s ruling

SEATTLE (AP) — Supporters of higher pay for minimum wage workers hailed a federal judge’s decision clearing the way for Seattle’s new minimum wage law to take effect as planned next month.

U.S. District Judge Richard A. Jones rejected claims by franchises of big national chains that the law discriminates against them.

The president and CEO of the International Franchise Association said the group would continue to fight the parts of Seattle’s new wage law that apply to franchises.

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 227.11 points, or 1.3 per cent, to 18,076.19. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 25.22 points, or 1.2 per cent, to 2,099.50. The Nasdaq composite rose 45.39 points, or 0.9 per cent, to 4,982.83.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose $1.20 to close at $44.66 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, rose $2.40 to close at $55.91 in London. Wholesale gasoline rose 6.9 cents to close at $1.799 a gallon. Heating oil fell 7.9 cent to close at $1.773 a gallon. Natural gas rose 6.5 cents to close at $2.920 per 1,000 cubic feet.