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Aetna drops last 2 state markets under Affordable Care Act

While Republicans rewrite the Affordable Care Act in Washington, the future of the current law has grown hazier with the nation’s third-largest health insurer completely divorcing itself from state-based insurance markets. Aetna said late Wednesday that it won’t sell individual coverage next year in its two remaining states — Nebraska and Delaware after projecting a $200 million loss this year. It had already dropped Iowa and Virginia for 2018. The insurer once sold the coverage in 15 states, but slashed that to four after losing about $450 million in 2016.

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‘Silk Road’ plan stirs unease over China’s strategic goals

BEIJING (AP) — In a mountain valley in Kashmir, plans are underway for Chinese engineers guarded by Pakistani forces to expand the lofty Karakoram Highway in a project that is stirring diplomatic friction with India. The work is part of a sprawling Chinese initiative to build a “new Silk Road” of ports, railways and roads to expand trade in a vast arc of countries across Asia, Africa and Europe. The Asian Development Bank says the region, home to 60 percent of the world’s people, needs more than $26 trillion of such investment by 2030 to keep economies growing.

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Wholesale prices jumped in April

WASHINGTON (AP) — Inflation at the wholesale level jumped in April by the largest amount in three months, fueled by rising prices of food and energy. Even excluding the volatile energy and food categories, core inflation was up sharply as well, raising concerns about whether inflation is starting to edge higher after being quiet for years. The Labor Department said Thursday that its producer price index, which measures inflation before it reaches the consumer, rose 0.5 percent in April. That represented a sharp rebound following a 0.1 percent decline in March. It was the largest one-month gain since January.

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Claims for US unemployment aid fall by 2,000 to 236,000

WASHINGTON (AP) — Fewer Americans sought jobless benefits last week, and the number of people collecting unemployment checks fell to the lowest level since 1988. The Labor Department says initial claims for jobless aid fell by 2,000 to 236,000.

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Lower sales drag down Macy’s profit, results miss forecast

NEW YORK (AP) — Lower sales dragged Macy’s profit down for the first quarter, highlighting the challenge for retailers as customers shift to more online shopping and store locations lose traffic. Macy’s results fell short of Wall Street expectations, and the nation’s largest department store chain warned sales will fall further this year. Its shares tumbled 14 percent, and gloom about the overall sector brought the shares of several other chains down as well.

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Judge approves emissions-cheating settlement for 3-liter VWs

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A federal judge in San Francisco has approved a $1.2 billion settlement with owners of 88,500 Volkswagens with 3-liter diesel engines rigged to cheat on emissions tests. Judge Charles Breyer gave the deal final approval during a hearing Thursday. Depending on the age of their cars, owners will get buybacks or repairs as well as compensation.

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Trump’s new trade rep poised to take stern stance on China

WASHINGTON (AP) — Robert Lighthizer has long complained that the United States dithered in the face of abusive Chinese trade policies, allowing its trade gap with Beijing to explode and American factories to close. Now, the veteran trade lawyer will get a chance to do something about it. The Senate voted 82-14 Thursday to confirm the 69-year-old Lighthizer to serve as U.S. trade representative.

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Microsoft aims to create a more versatile Windows 10

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Microsoft will try to make Windows 10 more versatile with a wave of new features for creating memories, exploring digitally manufactured settings and hopscotching from personal computers to mobile devices. The added bells and whistles will roll out later this year as part of “Fall Creators Update” that will be provided for free to 500 million personal computers, smartphones and tablets powered by Windows 10.

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ESPN gives a Sunday home to its top magazine show

NEW YORK (AP) — ESPN says it is putting a sharper focus on its long-form journalism with Sunday’s launch of the revamped magazine show “E:60,” with Bob Ley and Jeremy Schaap as hosts. The move comes as ESPN searches for ways to hang on to viewers with more people turning to the web for sports highlights. Dwindling profits at the cable giant, which recently laid off about 100 journalists and on-air personalities, was a topic that dominated parent Walt Disney Co.’s earnings news conference this week.

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The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 5.19 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,394.44. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 23.69 points, or 0.1 percent, to 20,919.42. The Nasdaq composite declined 13.18 points, or 0.2 percent, to 6,115.96, a day after closing at another all-time high.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose 50 cents, or 1.1 percent, to settle at $47.83 per barrel in New York after surging $1.45 on Wednesday. Brent crude, the international standard, added 55 cents, or 1.1 percent, to close at $50.77 per barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline rose 2 cents to $1.56 a gallon. Heating oil added 1 cent to $1.49 a gallon. Natural gas climbed 8 cents, or 2.6 percent, to $3.38 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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