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Visa, MasterCard renew push for chip cards

NEW YORK (AP) — Visa and MasterCard are renewing a push to speed the adoption of microchips into U.S. credit and debit cards in the wake of recent high-profile data breaches, including this week's revelation that hackers stole consumer data from eBay's computer systems.

Card processing companies argue that a move away from the black magnetic strips on the backs of credit cards would eliminate a substantial amount of U.S. credit card fraud. They say it's time to offer U.S. consumers the greater protections microchips provide by joining Canada, Mexico and most of Western Europe in using cards with the more advanced technology.

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What US shopping will look like in the future

NEW YORK (AP) — When it comes to shopping, more Americans are skipping the stores and pulling out their smartphones and tablets. Still, there's more on the horizon for shopping than just point-and-clicking.

No one thinks physical stores are going away permanently. But because of the frenetic pace of advances in technology and online shopping, the stores that remain will likely offer amenities and services that are more about experiences and less about selling a product. Think: Apple Inc.'s stores.

Among the things industry watchers are envisioning are holograms in dressing rooms that will allow shoppers to try on clothes without getting undressed. Their homes will be equipped with smart technology that will order light bulbs before they go dark. And they'll be able to print out a full version of coffee cups and other products using 3-D technology in stores.

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S&P 500 closes above 1,900 for first time

Call it the Great Slog.

Stocks are bumbling along this year after a gangbuster 2013.

The upward grind is underscored by the Standard & Poor's 500 index, which closed above 1,900 for the first time on Friday and is up 2.8 per cent for the year.

That gain compares with a 16 per cent increase over the same period last year.

Other major indexes haven't fared any better. The Dow Jones industrial average and the Nasdaq composite are barely in positive territory for 2014.

The stock market's five-year bull run is pausing. Economic growth has fallen short of expectations, barely expanding in the first quarter after a strong finish to 2013. Investors are being more cautious while they wait for compelling evidence that growth will continue.

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Big plans in works for NYC's gritty 'Wild West'

NEW YORK (AP) — It was once a gritty stretch of Manhattan known for rail yards, warehouses and aging industrial buildings, so desolate it was dubbed "The Wild, Wild West."

Now, one of the nation's biggest private construction projects is transforming a stretch of Manhattan's West Side into a cluster of 20 new buildings — 17 of them high-rises — so tightly packed that it has earned a new, not always complimentary, nickname: "Hong Kong on the Hudson."

This development and the adjacent $4.5 billion Manhattan West complex comprise the city's most ambitious private real estate ventures since Rockefeller Center went up in the 1930s.

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US new-home sales rose 6.4 per cent in April

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sales of U.S. new homes recovered in April after slumping in the previous two months. But Americans are still buying new homes at a slower pace than they did a year ago.

The Commerce Department said Friday that sales of new homes rose 6.4 per cent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 433,000. That compares with an upwardly revised annual pace of 407,000 in March, when purchases fell 6.9 per cent. Buying had dropped 4.4 per cent in February, in part because of winter snowstorms.

Demand for newly built homes remains one of the missing pieces of the nearly 5-year-old recovery from the Great Recession. A lack of affordability has limited buying around the country. Sales of new homes are running at roughly half the rate of a healthy real estate market.

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Reynolds expanding e-cigarette production

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Reynolds American Inc. is expanding its Tobaccoville, North Carolina, manufacturing complex as it plans national distribution of its Vuse brand electronic cigarette this summer, the company said Friday.

The owner of nation's second-biggest tobacco company did not disclose the costs related to the ramp-up, which will include a multi-million dollar investment for high-speed manufacturing equipment, for competitive reasons but said the move would create more than 200 jobs over the next four years.

Reynolds, based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, launched Vuse in Colorado last June and plans the initial wave of national distribution next month.

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Court tosses out federal rule to reduce energy use

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal appeals court on Friday overturned an electricity regulation in which utilities pay energy users in the wholesale market to reduce consumption.

The court ruled 2-1 that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission directive encroaches on states' authority to regulate the retail power market, a position taken by utilities, which also oppose the regulation on grounds that it is too generous to major energy users.

In an approach known as demand response, electricity users are paid to reduce their consumption in response to rising prices.

The appeals court says demand response is part of the retail market because it involves retail customers, their decision whether to purchase at retail and the levels of retail electricity consumption.

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US gains trade victory in auto dispute with China

GENEVA (AP) — The United States has scored a victory before the World Trade Organization in a case that challenged China's imposition of penalty tariffs on the sale of $5 billion in U.S.-made vehicles in China.

A WTO panel ruled Friday that China's tariffs violated international trade rules. The ruling came during a week when the U.S. Justice Department charged five Chinese military officers with hacking into U.S. companies' computer systems to steal trade secrets.

The two developments pointed to intensifying trade tensions between the world's two biggest economies.

The dispute panel for the Geneva-based WTO sided with the United States in its ruling. It said China had acted "inconsistently" in imposing the anti-dumping requirements in violation of its WTO commitments.

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Workers in tech case likely to get average of $4K

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Nearly 60,000 high-tech workers are likely to receive an average of $4,000 apiece in a settlement of a class-action lawsuit alleging Apple and Google conspired in an illegal cartel of Silicon Valley employers that secretly refused to recruit each other's engineers.

The estimate is based upon an analysis of court documents in the case, including the terms of a $324.5 million settlement outlined for the first time in a filing made late Thursday. The final amounts paid to each of the eligible workers will vary depending on their salaries during the four-year period covered by the lawsuit.

A federal judge still must approve the settlement, which is already facing resistance from one of the workers representing the entire class. A hearing on the settlement is scheduled for June 19 in a San Jose, California, federal court.

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Thai coup adds to challenges for economy

BANGKOK (AP) — Thailand's economy was already struggling before the country's military seized power in a bloodless coup Thursday, saying it needed to restore order after six months of protests aimed at ousting the elected government. The military takeover, the second since 2006, could ensure stability in the short term. But analysts fear the army's intervention will result in Thailand's political divide becoming even sharper, holding back the economy and living standards in the longer run.

— BY THE NUMBERS

Among developing countries, Thailand is in the top tier for incomes and standard of living, a position that puts developed status within reach if growth isn't stymied by political upheaval. It is the sixth largest economy in Asia with GDP of about $366 billion and is significant to the world as a food exporter, tourism destination, and manufacturer of cars and computer hard drives.

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones Industrial average rose 63 points, or 0.4 per cent, to 16,606. The S&P 500 gained eight points, or 0.4 per cent, to close at 1,900. The Nasdaq composite added 31 points, or 0.8 per cent, to 4,185.

Benchmark U.S. crude for July delivery gained 61 cents to $104.35 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, added 18 cents to $110.54 on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

Wholesale gasoline rose 2 cents to $3.02 a gallon.

Natural gas rose 5 cents to $4.41 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Heating oil was flat at $2.95 a gallon.

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