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Business Highlights

Associated Press Updated: May 28, 2015 at 6:01 pm
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FIFA probe shines light on middle-man sports marketing firms

NEW YORK (AP) — The U.S. Justice Department's targeting of FIFA, soccer's global governing body, has put a spotlight on the powerful role that marketing firms play in the global sports arena.

Such firms act like talent agencies: They work with athletes, teams and athletic associations to sign sponsorships and advertising deals. In some cases, they buy and resell media and licensing rights.

Big names in the United States include IMG, which was acquired last year by talent agency William Morris Endeavor, and Learfield Sports.

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Why a shrinking US economy last quarter isn't cause for fear

WASHINGTON (AP) — Another first quarter of the year. Another reversal for the U.S. economy. Another expectation of a rebound to come.

On Friday, the government will likely estimate that the economy shrank in the January-March quarter for a second straight year, depressed by brutal weather, a reeling energy sector and an export slump caused by a higher-valued dollar.

Yet few will see any cause for panic.

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Google unveils Android's latest technological tricks

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Google's next version of its Android operating system will boast new ways to fetch information, pay merchants and protect privacy on mobile devices as the Internet company duels with Apple in the quest to make their technology indispensable.

The upgrade will give Android's personal assistant, Google Now, expanded powers of intuition that may be greeted as a great convenience to some and a tad too creepy for others.

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FCC head unveils proposal to narrow 'digital divide'

NEW YORK (AP) — The head of the Federal Communications Commission is proposing that the government agency expand a phone subsidy program for the poor to include Internet access.

The FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, has emphasized that Internet access is a critical component of modern life, key education, communication and finding a keeping a job.

With the net neutrality rules released earlier this year, the agency redefined broadband as a public utility, like the telephone, giving it stricter oversight on how online content gets to consumers. That triggered lawsuits from Internet service providers.

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Avago looks to grow with $37B deal for chipmaker Broadcom

NEW YORK (AP) — Avago Technologies is buying rival chipmaker Broadcom in a cash and stock deal worth about $37 billion, vastly expanding its lineup of products for the rapidly growing wireless device market at a time when sales growth has otherwise been tough to come by for smaller chipmakers.

Hock Tan, Avago's president and chief executive, says that the deal will make his company the third largest semiconductor maker in terms of revenue and give it the most diversified communications platform in the industry, adding that there is very little overlap between Avago and Broadcom's products.

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US jobless aid applications rose last week; total still low

WASHINGTON (AP) — More Americans sought unemployment benefits last week, though the overall level remains low and points to a healthy job market.

Weekly applications increased 7,000 to a seasonally adjusted 282,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, rose 5,000 to 271,500. The average had fallen to a 15-year low two weeks ago.

Applications are a proxy for layoffs. They have remained below 300,000, a historically low number, for 12 weeks. That suggests Americans are experiencing solid job security. It also indicates that employers are confident enough in the economic outlook to hold onto their staffs.

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Pending US home sales jump to strongest level in 9 years

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans signed contracts to buy homes in April at the fastest pace in nearly nine years, evidence that steady job growth is strengthening the real estate market.

The National Association of Realtors said Thursday that its seasonally adjusted pending home sales index climbed 3.4 percent to 112.4 last month. It's the fourth consecutive monthly gain. The index now stands at its highest level since May 2006.

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Average US rate on 30-year mortgage rises to 3.87 pct.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates rose this week to their highest level so far this year as new data showed strength in the housing market.

Mortgage giant Freddie Mac said Thursday the average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage increased to 3.87 percent from 3.84 percent a week earlier. The rate on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages advanced to 3.11 percent from 3.05 percent.

Rates have risen in recent weeks amid signs of improvement in the economy.

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Is rent out of reach? Study shows how 11 US cities stack up

NEW YORK (AP) — Renters are on the rise in America's biggest cities, but many tenants are scrambling to keep up with growing rent bills and shrinking vacancies, according to a study released Thursday.

From Boston to Miami, New York to Los Angeles, more than half of tenants are paying what experts consider unaffordable rents, says a report by New York University's Furman Center, which studies real estate and urban policy, and bank Capital One, which is a leading affordable-housing lender and financed the research.

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Madoff accountant sentenced to home detention

NEW YORK (AP) — A former accountant who certified fake financial records hiding Bernard Madoff's epic Ponzi scheme was sentenced on Thursday to one year of home confinement, becoming the latest defendant to avoid prison by cooperating in the case.

David Friehling had agreed to cooperate almost immediately after the financial fraud — one of the largest in U.S. history — was exposed in 2008. Last year, he testified for several days against five of the firm's insiders before a jury found them guilty of participating in the scheme.

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Teva to pay $1.2 billion in drug-delay settlement

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal regulators announced Thursday that Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries will pay $1.2 billion to settle charges that one of its subsidiaries illegally blocked the launch of low-cost generic versions of the blockbuster sleeping pill Provigil.

The settlement is a major victory in the federal government's ongoing campaign against a common drug industry practice known as "pay-for-delay" deals. Drugmakers have long maintained that the deals help resolve costly patent litigation between branded drugmakers and their generic competitors. But Federal Trade Commission officials have argued for over a decade that the agreements keep cheaper forms of medicines off the market, driving up costs for consumers and the U.S. health system.

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Automakers, gov't reveal models in expanded Takata recall

DETROIT (AP) — Car owners are beginning to find out if their cars or trucks are included in a big expansion of a recall of air bags made by Takata Corp.

Automakers, as well as Canadian and U.S. safety regulators, are posting documents that spell out the vehicles being recalled to replace air bag inflators that can explode with too much force, spewing shrapnel into the passenger compartment.

Six people have been killed and more than 100 injured due to the problem.

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US gambling market saturated, yet casinos keep on coming

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — The casino market in the northeastern United States is saturated, yet that's not stopping some states from approving gambling legislation and companies from building new gambling halls.

That's the consensus of participants at a major casino conference in Atlantic City.

Eugene Johnson, of Spectrum Gaming Group, says by the end of this year, there will be 60 casinos in the northeast. That figure will grow to 65 by 2018, according to his colleague, Joe Weinert.

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Amazon to offer free same-day delivery to Prime members

NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon wants to make your impulse buys even more impulsive. The e-commerce powerhouse is offering free same-day delivery service in some cities to its Prime loyalty club members.

Amazon says starting Thursday more than 1 million items including books, electronics and vacation gear will be eligible for same-day delivery in 14 metro areas including New York, Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Atlanta. Orders over $35 are eligible for the service. They need to be placed by noon and will be delivered by 9 p.m.

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 36.87 points, or 0.2 percent, to 18,126.12. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 2.69 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,120.79 and the Nasdaq composite gave up 8.62 points, or 0.2 percent, to 5,097.98.

U.S. oil rose 17 cents to $57.68 a barrel after being down $1 a barrel earlier. Brent crude, used by many U.S. refiners in the production of gasoline, rose 52 cents to $62.58 in London. Wholesale gasoline gained 4.1 cents to $1.985 a gallon. Heating oil rose 1.4 cents to $1.87 a gallon. Natural gas fell 14.1 cents to $2.706 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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