Business Highlights

By The Associated Press Markets Associated Press

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Nuclear-armed North Korea profits from US, EU seafood sales

HUNCHUN, China (AP) — Americans may have been unwittingly helping North Korea get cash as it develops its nuclear weapons programs by buying seafood processed by North Korean workers in China. An AP investigation has found that American companies including Walmart and ALDI have exported seafood from Chinese companies that employ North Koreans. The U.S. companies now promise to examine their supply chains and crack down on forced labor. The North Korean government takes up to 70 percent of the workers' salaries.

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Technology crammed into cars worsens driver distraction

WASHINGTON (AP) — A new study says automakers are worsening driver distraction by cramming more and more infotainment options into vehicles. The government says infotainment systems should be quick and easy to use, but AAA's Foundation for Traffic Safety finds they are making drivers take their eyes off the road, and hands off the wheel, for dangerously long periods of time.

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Study: Over half of for-profit students defaulted on loans

WASHINGTON (AP) — A government study shows that more than half of students who attended for-profit colleges ten years ago defaulted on their federal student loans. By comparison, one quarter of community college students were unable to pay off their loans. The report National Center for Education Statistics was published Wednesday.

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House passes GOP budget in key step for upcoming tax debate

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House has approved a $4.1 trillion budget plan that takes a critical step forward in the GOP drive to rewrite the tax code later this year. The 2018 House budget calls for deep cuts to social programs and Cabinet agency budgets and reprises a controversial plan to turn Medicare into a voucher-like program for future retirees. But Republicans controlling the chamber have no plans to actually implement those cuts.

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Watching Netflix' 'Stranger Things' likely to cost you more

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Netflix is raising the price for its most popular U.S. video streaming plan by 10 percent— a move that could boost its profits but slow the subscriber growth that drives its stock price. The change announced Thursday affects most of Netflix's 53 million U.S. subscribers, although some won't be hit so long as they don't mind going without high-definition video. Netflix will now charge $11 per month instead of $10 for a plan that includes HD video

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Federal regulator clamps down on payday lending industry

NEW YORK (AP) — Payday and auto title lenders will have to adhere to stricter rules that could significantly curtail their business under rules finalized Thursday by a federal regulator. But the first nationwide regulation of the industry is still likely face resistance from Congress.

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As tax overhaul unfolds, some investing angles to consider

The Trump administration's plans to slash corporate taxes and make other business-friendly changes to the nation's tax laws have helped lift U.S. stocks in recent weeks. And depending on which changes, if any, ultimately end up in signed into law, more companies could see bigger gains.

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Not so sweet: 75 percent of honey samples had key pesticide

WASHINGTON (AP) — Swiss researchers tested honey samples from around the world and found a common type of pesticide in three-quarters of them. They say it is not near levels that would come close to harming humans, but it is a big worry for bees, which already are in trouble. The scientists got experts, friends and relatives to collect honey for the study published Thursday in the journal Science.

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Report: Trump-tied lobbyists cash in on their connections

WASHINGTON (AP) — Despite President Donald Trump's campaign to "drain the swamp" of lobbyists and special interests, Washington's influence industry is alive and well and growing. Former members of the Trump transition team, his presidential campaign and the administration — as well as friends — have set up shop as lobbyists and cashed in on connections, according to a new analysis by Public Citizen, a public interest group, and reviewed by The Associated Press.

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Spain's top court halts Catalan secession parliament meeting

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Spain's Constitutional Court on Thursday ordered Catalonia's parliament to suspend a planned session next week during which separatist lawmakers wanted to declare independence — further fueling Spain's worst political crisis in decades. Catalan regional authorities previously have ignored Constitutional Court orders, so it was not immediately clear if the session would go ahead and if all parties would attend.

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The S&P 500 rose 14.33 points, or 0.6 percent, to 2,552.07. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 113.75, or 0.5 percent, to 22,775.39 and the Nasdaq composite rose 50.73, or 0.8 percent, to 6,585.36. All three indexes added to their records set a day earlier, again.

In the commodities markets, benchmark U.S. crude rose 81 cents, or 1.6 percent, to settle at $50.79 per barrel. Brent crude, the standard for international oil prices, rose $1.20 to $57 per barrel.

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