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Business Highlights

Associated Press Updated: April 10, 2015 at 5:32 pm
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Online excitement but no long lines for Apple Watch debut

PALO ALTO, Calif. (AP) — An online rush replaced the traditional overnight queues outside Apple stores Friday as the iconic tech company began taking orders and letting shoppers get their hands on its much-vaunted smartwatch for the first time.

Eager customers placed online orders for the Apple Watch as soon as Apple's website began accepting them, shortly after midnight Pacific Time. Within half an hour, the company appeared to sell out the initial batch of watches that were available for the first official day of shipping on April 24. By midmorning, Apple's website was showing the earliest shipping date for many watch models would be in June or later.

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GE pares off financial unit and returns to industrial roots

General Electric is leaving the lending business, a major source of both profit and risk, as it continues to whittle its focus down to an industrial core.

The company said Friday that it will sell most of its GE Capital assets over the next two years, shedding businesses in a sector where it has had a tough time generating acceptable returns. GE also plans to repurchase as much as $50 billion of its own stock.

Shares of GE climbed to their highest price in almost two years Friday after the company announced the buybacks and the return to a simpler focus that investors have favored.

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Japan's Mitsubishi sets sights on niche in aircraft sector

NAGOYA, Japan (AP) — At a tightly guarded factory in central Japan, Mitsubishi, a maker of the Zero fighter planes of World War II, is launching its MRJ regional jet and aiming to fulfill Japan's long-cherished ambitions to regain status as a major aviation power.

The company said Friday that a recent decision to push back the jet's maiden flight from this spring to a few months later would not delay its commercial deliveries. Workers were conducting hydraulic and other tests on two of the test jets in a cavernous assembly facility; another jet had been sent out for painting.

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GM says it has fixed 70 pct. of faulty ignition switches

DETROIT (AP) — Fourteen months after General Motors started recalling more than 2 million small cars with faulty ignition switches worldwide, the company says it has repaired about 70 percent of the vehicles that are still on the road.

The figures, which the company says are current as of Thursday, show that the switch replacements are now running at about the same pace as the average recall in the U.S. for a similar time frame.

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FDA panel opposes dropping warnings from tobacco pouch

WASHINGTON (AP) — Government advisers recommended against a proposal by Swedish Match to market its smokeless tobacco pouches as less harmful than cigarettes and other tobacco products.

The company has asked the Food and Drug Administration for permission to remove or revise several warning labels on the pouches, called snus. It's the first request the FDA has considered publicly since it gained authority to regulate tobacco products in 2009.

But a panel of FDA advisers said overwhelmingly Friday that company data do not support relaxing warning labels on snus.

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Americas Summit: Canal tweets Obama's praise

He didn't put 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue under the address column, but President Barack Obama did leave a message in the Panama Canal's guest book.

The president wrote: "The Panama Canal is a testament to human ingenuity and vision. The world thanks Panama for its stewardship of this vital link to our shared prosperity."

A picture of the president's message and signature was posted on the canal's Twitter feed a few hours after he visited Friday.

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Sprint to pay $15.5M to settle case over wiretapping costs

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Sprint Communications has agreed to pay $15.5 million to settle a lawsuit alleging the telephone carrier overcharged the U.S. government to collect and deliver information gathered under court-ordered wiretaps.

The settlement announced late Thursday revolves around a dispute about how Sprint Communications Inc. billed the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration and several other federal agencies for its wiretapping expenses.

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Smithsonian to launch new magazine on cultural travel

WASHINGTON (AP) — Smithsonian Enterprises, the business arm of the popular museum complex, is launching its first new magazine in 30 years with a focus on cultural travelers.

Smithsonian Journeys will hit newsstands April 21 as a quarterly publication, the publisher said Friday. Each edition will focus on one destination with photography and stories about history, food, customs and science.

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Mining co. in Mexico has 'good relationship' with cartels

CULIACAN, Mexico (AP) — The head of the mining company robbed of $8.5 million in gold in Mexico made the rare revelation in a television interview that his company has a "good relationship" with area drug traffickers.

Rob McEwen, president and chairman of Canada-based McEwen Mining Inc., said in an interview Thursday with Canada's Business News Network that company employees ask the drug cartels for permission before they explore.

He said the company had not suffered any other crime beyond the robbery of the gold. McEwen said the mining company operates in the foothills, and more problems occur higher in the mountains.

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India PM wants 36 French Rafale fighter jets, talks progress

PARIS (AP) — India's prime minister on Friday announced plans to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets from France, but said negotiations on "terms and conditions" of the multibillion euro sale are ongoing.

Visiting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, speaking at a joint news conference with French President Francois Hollande, said India wants the aircraft to be "ready to fly," meaning the planes would be made in France. That is a departure from an earlier plan for 126 Rafales mainly built in India.

Hollande said India wanted the deal sealed "in the shortest time possible."

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 98.92 points, or 0.6 percent, to 18,057.65. The Standard & Poor's 500 index added 10.88 points, or 0.5 percent, to 2,102.06. The Nasdaq composite gained 21.41 points, or 0.4 percent, to 4,995.98.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose 85 cents to close at $51.64 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, rose $1.30 to close at $57.87 in London. Wholesale gasoline rose 4.8 cents to close at $1.807 a gallon. Heating oil rose 3.9 cents to close at $1.766 a gallon. Natural gas fell 1.7 cents to close at $2.511 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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