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US economy expanded at weakest pace in 3 years

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. economy turned in the weakest performance in three years in the January-March quarter as consumers sharply slowed their spending. The result fell far below the ambitious growth targets President Donald Trump is pledging to achieve once his economic program is adopted.

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Appeals court upholds decision to block Anthem bid for Cigna

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal appeals court has left in place a decision blocking Blue Cross-Blue Shield insurer Anthem’s bid to buy rival Cigna, saying that a bigger company is not better for consumers. The 2-1 decision Friday upholds a federal judge’s ruling in February that said the proposed $48 billion acquisition would further reduce competition in the already concentrated health insurance market.

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Alex Acosta sworn in as US labor secretary

WASHINGTON (AP) — Vice President Mike Pence has sworn in Alex Acosta as the nation’s new secretary of labor, filling out President Donald Trump’s Cabinet as he approaches his 100th day in office. The oath-taking comes after the Senate voted 60-38 for his confirmation. As labor secretary, Acosta would be in charge of advocating on behalf of American workers and enforcing the some 180 federal laws related to the U.S. workforce.

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Orchard owners look to robots as labor shortage worsens

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — The owners of some of Washington state’s vast fruit orchards are watching with interest as two companies race to get robotic fruit-picking machines to market. Members of the state’s $7.5 billion annual agriculture industry have long grappled with labor shortages, and they depend on workers coming up from Mexico each year to harvest many crops. Companies in California and Israel are working to get mechanical pickers to market within the next couple of years to provide alternatives to human labor.

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Court agrees to hold off ruling on carbon restrictions

WASHINGTON (AP) — Obama-era clean air rules are under threat after a federal appeals court Friday went along with request to delay ruling on a legal challenge to carbon emission limits. The Trump administration asked the court to postpone the case shortly after the president signed an executive order asking officials to roll back Obama’s Clean Power Plan. The plan aims to reduce harmful emissions from existing power plants by about one-third by 2030.

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Facebook gearing up to fight political propaganda

NEW YORK (AP) — Facebook is acknowledging that governments and other malicious non-state actors are using its social network to shift public sentiment. That could include, for instance, influencing a country’s elections by spreading misinformation. Facebook says it will monitor the efforts of those who try to hurt “civic discourse” on its service. It is also looking to better identify fake accounts, and says it will notify people if their accounts have been targeted by cyber-attackers.

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Experts: Long road ahead for Trump offshore drilling order

President Donald Trump’s executive order directing his agencies to find new ocean expanses in the Atlantic and the Arctic for offshore drilling is unlikely to reach its goals anytime soon, but instead will kick off a yearslong review process and lawsuits. The day before his 100th in office, Trump took this step toward dismantling a component of Barack Obama’s environmental legacy.

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Apple ceases iPhone payments to Qualcomm, escalating feud

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Apple is refusing to pay the royalties owed to mobile chip maker Qualcomm for some of the features in the iPhone, escalating a patent feud that has turned the former business partners into bitter adversaries. The latest twist in the dispute represents a major blow for Qualcomm, which depends on licensing fees for a large portion of its revenue.

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Congress settles for stopgap to avoid government shutdown

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress has taken the easy way out to keep the government open on the eve of Donald Trump’s 100th day in office. Facing a midnight deadline, lawmakers have passed a weeklong stop-gap spending bill that amounts to more of a defeat for Trump than a victory. The president did not wring any major legislation out of Congress, which plans next week to pass a $1 trillion package financing the government through September.

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GM is motoring as profit jumps 34 pct on US truck, SUV sales

DETROIT (AP) — General Motors put up record first-quarter profits with sales of trucks and SUVs in the U.S. booming. The Detroit automaker easily beat the expectations of industry analysts as revenue jumped 11 percent.

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Exxon’s 1Q profit more than doubles on higher oil prices

IRVING, Texas (AP) — Exxon more than doubled its profit in the first quarter as rising crude prices magnified the cost cuts the company made when energy prices were lower. It’s the first year-over-year profit gain for Exxon since the third quarter of 2014, when the price of oil was just beginning a plunge to below $30 a barrel.

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The Standard & Poor’s 500 index slipped 4.57 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,384.20. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 40.82 points, or 0.2 percent, to 20,940.51. The Nasdaq composite gave up 1.33 points, or 0.02 percent, to 6,047.61.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose 36 cents, or 0.7 percent, to settle at $49.33 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, climbed 29 cents, or 0.6 percent, to $51.73 a barrel in London. Home heating oil fell less than a penny to $1.50 a gallon, wholesale gasoline was little changed at $1.55 a gallon and natural gas rose 4 cents to $3.28 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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