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Business Highlights

Associated Press Updated: March 3, 2015 at 6:15 pm
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US running out of room to store oil; price collapse next?

NEW YORK (AP) — The U.S. has so much crude that it is running out of places to put it, and that could drive oil and gasoline prices even lower in coming months.

For the past seven weeks, the United States has been producing and importing an average of 1 million more barrels of oil every day than it is consuming. That extra crude is flowing into storage tanks, pushing U.S. supplies to their highest point in at least 80 years, according to the Energy Department.

If this keeps up, storage tanks could approach their operational limits by mid-April and send the price of crude plummeting.

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A complication for the Fed: Rate cuts by other central banks

WASHINGTON (AP) — The world's central banks are injecting a new complication into the Federal Reserve's decision on when to raise interest rates: They're cutting their own rates.

Last weekend, China's central bank slashed key rates for a second time in three months to try to stimulate the slowing Chinese economy. That follows the European Central Bank's decision in January to begin buying bonds to try to revive a flat-lining economy, a step the Bank of Japan is also pursuing.

By contrast, the Fed wants to start raising rates soon to prevent the strengthening U.S. economy from igniting inflation. But it must proceed with caution because raising rates while other central banks are cutting theirs would likely drive up the U.S. dollar's value.

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Body-camera maker has financial ties to police chiefs

Taser International, the stun-gun maker and a major supplier of body cameras, has cultivated financial ties to police chiefs whose departments have bought the recording devices, raising conflict-of-interest questions.

Taser is covering airfare and hotels for police chiefs who speak at promotional conferences and is hiring recently retired chiefs as consultants, sometimes months after their cities signed contracts.

The relationships raise questions about whether chiefs are acting objectively in their dealings with Taser, whose contracts for cameras and video storage can cost millions.

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Target plans $2 billion in cost-cutting moves

NEW YORK (AP) — Target Corp. plans $2 billion in cost cuts over the next two years through corporate restructuring and other improvements.

The goal is to make the Minneapolis-based discounter more agile to compete in an increasingly competitive landscape and appeal to shoppers who are increasingly buying and researching on their mobile devices.

As part of the restructuring plans, Target plans to eliminate several thousand positions at its corporate headquarters over the next two years and establish centralized teams based on specialized expertise.

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JPMorgan will pay $50M in homeowner bankruptcy settlement

NEW YORK (AP) — The U.S. Department of Justice says JPMorgan Chase will pay $50 million to 25,000 homeowners for failing to properly review payment-change notices sent to homeowners who were in bankruptcy.

The Justice Department says JPMorgan Chase acknowledged it filed about 25,000 payment change notices that were sent to homeowners without a proper review. They were signed in the names of employees who no longer worked for the company or who hadn't reviewed the filings to check their accuracy.

About 25,000 additional forms were signed by employees of another company who weren't responsible for checking the accuracy of the filings.

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Auto industry slows for bad weather, but stays on course

DETROIT (AP) — February threw snowstorms and other roadblocks at the auto industry, but U.S. sales of new cars and trucks are still poised to hit their highest level in more than a decade this year.

Freezing temperatures, disruptions at West Coast ports and rising gas prices took a bite out of U.S. auto sales last month. Still, most automakers reported gains, and analysts say lost sales should be made up as the weather warms in March.

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Airlines move to better track planes a year after Flight 370

NEW YORK (AP) — Nearly one year ago, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 vanished in one of aviation's greatest mysteries.

Airlines and regulators spent the past year debating how much flight tracking is necessary, balancing the economic costs against reassuring travelers another plane won't disappear.

Now a plan is moving forward that would require airlines, by the end of 2016, to know their jets' positions every 15 minutes.

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Greece poised for recession as uncertainty takes its toll

LONDON (AP) — Barely a year after emerging from a savage recession comparable in its intensity to the Great Depression in the U.S., Greece's economy is shrinking again.

The uncertainty generated by January's general election and the drama over extending Greece's financial lifeline is helping to push the economy back toward recession despite encouraging signs from the tourism sector, the country's biggest money earner.

The uncertainty has damaged confidence among investors, consumers and business owners.

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AP Exclusive: Airlines reject rechargeable battery shipments

WASHINGTON (AP) — Two major U.S airlines say they will no longer accept rechargeable battery shipments as new government tests confirm that explosions and violent fires are likely to occur when large numbers of batteries enclosed in cargo containers overheat.

Tests conducted last month by the Federal Aviation Administration show that rechargeable batteries, also called lithium-ion batteries, consistently emit explosive gases when they overheat or short-circuit, The Associated Press has learned.

In the recent tests, as well as other FAA tests last year, the buildup of gases — primarily hydrogen — led to fierce explosions.

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Executive group: Trade would increase hiring in US

WASHINGTON (AP) — Top U.S. business executives are pressing Congress to give President Barack Obama greater authority to negotiate international trade deals, citing the potential for increased hiring in the United States and greater competitiveness for their companies overseas.

In a report Tuesday by the lobbying group Business Roundtable, the chief executives say their expectations for the economy have improved but that business needs more confidence to increase hiring.

The group's survey of 120 executives found that more than half of them — 54 percent — said trade would allow them to boost their employment in the United States.

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 85.26 points, or 0.5 percent, to close at 18,203.37. The Standard & Poor's 500 declined 9.61 points, or 0.5 percent, to 2,107.78. The Nasdaq gave up 28.20 points, or 0.6 percent, to close at 4,979.90.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose 93 cents to close at $50.52 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, rose $1.48 to close at $61.02 a barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline rose 5.3 cents to close at $1.950 a gallon. Heating oil rose 5.2 cents to close at $1.940 a gallon. Natural gas rose 1.4 cents to close at $2.712 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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