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Business Highlights

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Top finance officials: World economy still faces threats

WASHINGTON (AP) — The global recovery has regained most of the ground lost from the market turbulence at the beginning of the year, finance officials of the world’s largest economies said Friday. But they worry that growth remains uneven in the face of a variety of threats ranging from terrorist bombings to Britain’s upcoming vote on whether to leave the European Union.

The finance ministers from the Group of 20 major economies pledged to pursue policies that will bolster growth and further stabilize financial markets, but they offered no new measures to accomplish these goals.

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Has China’s slowdown bottomed out? Growth at 6.7 pct in 1Q

HONG KONG (AP) — China’s economic growth slowed in the first quarter to 6.7 per cent, largely in line with expectations, but its slowest pace since the global financial crisis.

Data reported Friday showed that the annualized growth rate for the world’s second-largest economy ticked lower from the previous quarter’s 6.8 per cent. But carefully targeted stimulus helped to prevent it from slowing even further, analysts said, raising hopes that growth may be stabilizing.

A prolonged slowdown took annual growth last year to 6.9 per cent, the weakest annual expansion in a quarter century.

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AP Explains: How to clean up your online reputation

NEW YORK (AP) — Messy party photos, offensive tweets, pepper spraying student protesters … sometimes, you just want a do-over when it comes to your online presence. And for a hefty price tag, you can.

The University of California, Davis is under fire for contracting consultants for at least $175,000 to clean up its online reputation after a November 2011 incident in which campus police pepper-sprayed peaceful protesters, according to a report in the Sacramento Bee.

If that PR campaign worked at all, it’s now backfired. Here’s how this sort of reputation scrubbing is supposed to help — and some ways in which it might have the opposite effect.

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Citigroup’s profit sinks 27 per cent, but beats expectations

NEW YORK (AP) — Citigroup’s profit fell nearly 27 per cent in the first quarter, hurt by weak results at its consumer bank and trading business. But the company’s earnings still beat Wall Street expectations.

The New York-based financial conglomerate quarter continued to clean up its balance sheet and slim itself down from the depths of the financial crisis. Citi Holdings, the so-called bad bank that holds most of Citi’s toxic assets left over from the bubble years, posted its seventh straight quarterly profit. The value of Citi Holdings’ investments fell 44 per cent from a year earlier as the bank sold off complicated derivatives, bonds and other assets.

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AMC U-turns; texting in theatres now on ‘cutting room floor’

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Oops. The idea lasted about as long as a Snapchat text: the head of AMC Theatres mulled openly about creating texting-friendly movie theatres to appeal to smartphone-addicted youngsters. Two days later, after a backlash on social media, the company says it’s leaving the idea on “the cutting room floor.”

Adam Aron, who became CEO of AMC Entertainment Holdings in December, told Variety magazine for a story Wednesday that the company would consider allowing cellphone use in some theatres to appeal to millennials.

AMC released a statement from Aron Friday saying he had reversed his thinking.

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GM to recall over 1 million pickups to fix seat belt problem

DETROIT (AP) — General Motors is recalling more than a million Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickup trucks worldwide because the seat belts may not hold the driver in a crash.

The company, which announced the recall on Friday, says it covers certain 2014 and 2015 model 1500 pickups. A steel cable that connects the belts to the trucks can bend when the driver sits in the seats. Over time it can wear and separate, and if that happens, the belts could come loose.

GM said that it has no reports of crashes or injuries due to the cables.

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Consumer-ratings business JD Power sold for $1.1 billion

NEW YORK (AP) — McGraw Hill Financial, the financial-data group behind Standard & Poor’s ratings agency, says it has its sold consumer-ratings unit J.D. Power for $1.1 billion.

The buyer is XIO Group, a London-based investment firm established in 2014 with an aim to invest over $5 billion in North American and European companies and help them expand into Asia.

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Obama backs effort to give consumers options on cable boxes

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama threw his weight Friday behind an effort to give consumers more choice when it comes to the cable boxes that control which television channels they watch.

Most TV subscribers lease boxes from their cable service provider. The Federal Communications Commission is pursuing new regulations giving consumers more options to buy elsewhere.

Obama described it as a model for expanding competition in other areas, including financial services.

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Starboard presses on with push to replace Depomed’s board

Starboard Value plans to forge ahead with its boardroom coup attempt at Depomed even though the pain treatment maker backed off a reincorporation plan that had incensed the activist investor.

Depomed said late Thursday that it decided not to pursue a proposed reincorporation to Delaware from California because it would lead to “a costly and distracting proxy contest” while the company tries to grow.

Starboard said Friday the reincorporation plan was designed to entrench the board, and the drugmaker was disingenuous in stating that it withdrew the proposal to avoid a proxy fight.

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European states urge G-20 to share data on offshore accounts

MADRID (AP) — The European Union’s five biggest economies, including Germany and Britain, have agreed to share information on company ownership and are urging other nations to do the same to make it harder for criminals and tax cheats to avoid the law.

The move announced late Thursday comes as the leak of the so-called Panama Papers claimed another political casualty: Spain’s acting industry minister resigned after his name was linked to offshore companies.

Britain’s Treasury chief George Osborne and his counterparts in Germany, France, Italy and Spain have agreed to share information on the beneficial ownership of companies.

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The Dow Jones industrial average gave up 28.97 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 17,897.46. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index slid 2.05 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 2,080.73. The Nasdaq composite index declined 7.67 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 4,938.22.

U.S. crude fell $1.14 to $40.36 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the international benchmark, lost 74 cents, or 1.7 per cent, to $43.10 a barrel in London. In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline slipped 4 cents, or 2.9 per cent, to $1.46 a gallon and heating oil decreased 2 cents, or 1.8 per cent, to $1.23 a gallon. Natural gas fell 7 cents, or 3.5 per cent, to $1.90 per 1,000 cubic feet.