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Portuguese bank fears rekindle euro market tension
LISBON, Portugal (AP) — The specter of Europe's financial crisis is back to haunt investors.
Worries over the health of Portugal's biggest bank on Thursday raised fears that the country might run into financial trouble again — just weeks after emerging from a bailout — and trigger a flare-up in the market crisis Europe thought it had quelled.
Stocks and bonds fell worldwide while the price of gold rallied as traders sought it out as a safe investment.
The tensions center on Espirito Santo International, a holding company that is the largest shareholder in a group of Espirito Santo family companies, including the parent of Portugal's largest bank, Banco Espirito Santo. Espirito Santo International reportedly missed a debt payment this week and was cited for accounting irregularities — the sort of shenanigans that helped cause Europe's debt crisis four years ago.
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Agriculture industry seeks to create right to farm
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — In the nation's agricultural heartland, farming is more than a multibillion-dollar industry that feeds the world. It could be on track to become a right, written into law alongside the freedom of speech and religion.
Some powerful agriculture interests want to declare farming a right at the state level as part of a wider campaign to fortify the ag industry against crusades by animal-welfare activists and opponents of genetically modified crops.
The emerging battle could have lasting repercussions for the nation's food supply and for the millions of people worldwide who depend on U.S. agricultural exports. It's also possible that the right-to-farm idea could sputter as a merely symbolic gesture that carries little practical effect beyond driving up voter turnout in local elections.
California man sentenced to 15 years for espionage
A federal judge on Thursday sentenced a California chemical engineer to 15 years in prison and fined him $28 million after his rare economic-espionage conviction for selling China the technology that creates a white pigment.
U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey White in Oakland said Liew had "turned against his adopted country over greed."
A jury previously convicted the 56-year-old Liew of receiving $28 million from companies controlled by the Chinese government in exchange for DuPont Co.'s secret recipe for making cars, paper and a long list of everyday items whiter.
WellPoint CEO: Insurer readies for technology wave
NEW YORK (AP) — WellPoint CEO Joseph Swedish says that when people ask what a doctor's appointment will be like in the future, they assume that patients will physically have to visit an office.
They're wrong, the insurance executive told The Associated Press during an interview at its New York headquarters.
Swedish says adapting to technology is a top priority for him as he leads the nation's second largest health insurer. The U.S. health care overhaul also is a big focus for WellPoint Inc., which is one of the biggest players in the overhaul's public insurance exchanges. The largely online exchanges debuted last fall and helped roughly 8 million people find coverage.
FTC sues Amazon over kids' app charges
NEW YORK (AP) — The Federal Trade Commission is suing Amazon over charges that the company has not done enough to prevent children from making unauthorized in-app purchases, according to a complaint filed Thursday in federal court.
The move had been expected since last week, when Amazon said it wouldn't settle with the FTC over the charges.
Amazon has said it already refunded money to parents who complained and is prepared to go to court.
US unemployment aid applications fall to 304,000
WASHINGTON (AP) — Fewer people sought U.S. unemployment benefits last week, driving down the level of applications to nearly the lowest in seven years.
Weekly applications for unemployment aid dropped 11,000 to a seasonally adjusted 304,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. That's not far from a reading of 298,000 two months ago, which was the lowest since 2007, before the Great Recession began.
The four-week average, a less volatile measure, dipped 3,500 to 311,500, the second-lowest level since August 2007. Applications are a proxy for layoffs, so the low readings indicate that employers are letting go of fewer workers.
The figures are the latest sign that the job market is steadily improving. Employers are adding jobs at a healthy clip and the unemployment rate is at a 5 1/2-year low.
Boeing raises forecast for new airplane demand
CHICAGO (AP) — Boeing Co. raised its long-term forecast for new airplane demand by more than 4 percent, based on expected orders of smaller, more fuel-efficient planes and burgeoning travel in Asia.
The Chicago company said Thursday that it expects deliveries of 36,770 new airplanes over the next 20 years, with total list prices valued at an estimated $5.2 trillion.
That's up from Boeing's forecast last year that global airlines would need 35,280 jets worth $4.8 trillion over the next 20 years.
Low-cost carriers are fueling the fastest growing segment of the market — single-aisle airplanes. Those aircraft, such as the Boeing 737 and rival Airbus A320, make up 70 percent of all orders, with the heart of that demand found in the 160-seat range.
UAW: 'Consensus' reached with Volkswagen on union
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — United Auto Workers leaders said Thursday they have reached a "consensus" with Volkswagen and expect the German automaker to recognize the union if they sign up enough workers at a new local for the company's assembly plant in Tennessee.
The union in February suffered a bitter setback in its effort to organize its first foreign-owned plant in the South when workers at the Chattanooga plant rejected UAW representation by a 712-626 vote.
Gary Casteel, the UAW's secretary-treasurer, said the creation of Local 42 will avoid the need for another election that could involve "third-party interference." He stressed that no employee will be required to join, and that no dues would be collected until after a collective bargaining agreement is reached.
Aereo presses case despite Supreme Court setback
NEW YORK (AP) — Aereo, the television-over-the-Internet service that suspended operations after the Supreme Court ruled against it, is refusing to disband for good.
The company is now using the Supreme Court's own language to force broadcasters to treat it just like a cable TV company. In Aereo's view, that means broadcasters must license their signals to Aereo under a 1976 copyright law.
But the Supreme Court actually stopped short of declaring Aereo a cable company, and previous court rulings have said Internet-based services don't qualify. Even if Aereo is considered a cable company, a 1996 communications law overrides some of the guarantees that Aereo is seeking.
By The Associated Press=
The Dow Jones Industrial average fell 70.54 points, or 0.4 percent, to 16,915.07 Thursday. The Standard & Poor's 500 index slipped 8.15 points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,964.88. The Nasdaq composite fell 22.83 points, or 0.5 percent, to 4,396.20.
Benchmark U.S. crude for August delivery gained 64 cents to $102.93 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, rose 54 cents to $109.01 on the ICE Futures exchange in London. Wholesale gasoline rose 2 cents to $2.96 a gallon. Natural gas fell 5 cents to $4.12 per 1,000 cubic feet. Heating oil added 2 cents to $2.89 a gallon.