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Business Highlights

(AP) Business Highlights
By The Associated Press
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Gasoline prices begin summer slide

NEW YORK (AP) _ Gasoline prices are on a summer slide, giving U.S. drivers a break as they set out for the beach and other vacation spots for the Fourth of July.

The national average for a gallon has fallen for 21 days straight and is now below $3.50 for the first time since February. The reason: Oil prices have been relatively stable, and refineries are turning out more gasoline after completing springtime maintenance.

The drop may be interrupted temporarily because oil prices spiked Wednesday on fears that the turmoil in Egypt would disrupt the flow of crude in the Mideast. Analysts, however, don't expect a sharp increase at the pump, because global oil supplies are ample and U.S. refineries are producing plenty of gas.

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Oil above $101 on US supply drop, Egypt

NEW YORK (AP) _ The price of oil rose to its highest level in 14 months on concerns about possible disruptions to Middle East supplies and signs of an increase in U.S. demand for fuel.

U.S. benchmark oil gained $1.64 to $101.24 per barrel, its highest close since May 3, 2012.

Brent crude, which is used to price oil used by many U.S. refineries to make gasoline, rose $1.76 to finish at $105.76 per barrel.

Two events propelled the price of oil above $100 a barrel for the first time since the middle of September: unrest in Egypt, and a big drop in U.S. oil supplies.

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Delay stirs broader worries about Obama health law

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The sudden delay of a major part of President Barack Obama's historic health care overhaul is raising questions about other potential problems lurking in the homestretch.

The requirement that many employers provide coverage is just one part of a complex law. But its one-year postponement has taken administration allies and adversaries alike by surprise.

White House officials said Wednesday that the delay was firm and won't be extended after a year _ and that the overhaul will still be fully implemented by the time Obama leaves office. But the officials, who were not authorized to discuss internal deliberations on the record and spoke only on condition of anonymity, wouldn't rule out delays or tweaks to other provisions.

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Egypt political upheaval to deepen economic crisis

CAIRO (AP) _ Egypt's descent into even deeper political turmoil will almost certainly put a multi-billion dollar international bailout on hold and lead to an even more painful economic crisis with worsening fuel shortages and higher prices on basic goods.

After protracted negotiations that have stretched for more than a year, Egypt had been inching closer to securing a critical $4.8 billion International Monetary Fund loan.

The military's overthrow Wednesday of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi will likely put the implementation of austerity measures needed to secure that loan into a dangerous limbo.

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Reports point to solid US hiring in June

WASHINGTON (AP) _ U.S. companies stepped up hiring last month, a private survey showed Wednesday. And the government says fewer people applied for unemployment benefits last week.

The latest data point to steady job growth, an encouraging sign ahead of Friday's government report on June employment. The brighter hiring outlook also helped stocks end the day higher. The Dow Jones industrial average closed up 56 points.

Further job gains could lower the unemployment rate, which is still high at 7.6 percent, and help economic growth rebound in the second half of the year. If growth accelerates and unemployment falls, the Federal Reserve might start to scale back its bond purchases before the year ends.

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Joblessness still hangs over an improving economy

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Unemployment under President Barack Obama has remained high for the longest period since the Great Depression. Despite a slowly improving job market, the millions of Americans without jobs underscore weakness in the recovery, drag down consumer spending and still roil the nation's politics.

Wall Street has had its jitters but the stock market remains high, consumer confidence has improved and the housing market is making a solid comeback.

Yet, while economic conditions change, much remains the same.

On Friday the government will release its monthly jobs report, and economists predict that U.S. employers added 165,000 jobs in June. That's fewer than in May and far short of the number of new jobs needed to push the unemployment rate down significantly from its current perch at 7.6 percent.

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US rate on 30-year mortgage falls to 4.29 percent

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages fell this week after last week's surge. The declines could prompt homebuyers to act quickly before rates rise further.

Freddie Mac said Wednesday that the average on the 30-year loan dropped to 4.29 percent. That's down from 4.46 percent last week, the highest in two years and a full point more than a month ago.

The average on the 15-year mortgage fell to 3.39 percent, down from 3.50 percent last week _ the highest since August 2011.

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New York Attorney General's office looking at companies using payroll cards

NEW YORK (AP) _ The New York Attorney General's office is looking at a little more than 20 businesses for their use of ATM-type cards to pay some of their workers.

The office of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says it sent letters to companies including Wendy's Co., Costco Wholesale Corp., Dollar Tree Inc., Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc., Home Depot, Inc., Darden Restaurants Inc. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

The letters request documents related to the payroll card systems used by each business so that they can ensure the companies comply with laws aimed at protecting workers from fees for using the cards.

Schneiderman's office requested information such as fee schedules and documents showing that employees being paid via the ATM-type cards gave advance written consent.

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Boeing out-delivers Airbus in 1st half of 2013

Boeing delivered more planes than Airbus during the first half of this year.

Boeing has delivered 306 jetliners so far, including 17 787s. Boeing is playing catch-up with those deliveries because of the problems with the 787's battery earlier this year. Boeing is aiming to deliver 60 of those planes this year.

Airbus has delivered 295 civilian planes this year. It delivered more of its smaller A320 family of planes than the comparable Boeing jets. Airbus handed over 233 of its A320 family of planes, compared to Boeing's deliveries of 218 of its 737s.

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Toyota recalling 185,000 vehicles globally

TOKYO (AP) _ Toyota Motor Corp. is recalling 185,000 vehicles globally, mostly in Japan and Europe, for a glitch in the power steering. No accidents have been reported related to the problem.

The recall covers 123,000 vehicles in Japan, including the Vitz compact, and 46,000 vehicles in Europe, including the Yaris, all produced between August 2010 and March 2012, Toyota spokesman Brian Lyons said Wednedsay.

It also covers 11,000 Subaru Trezia vehicles produced under an OEM deal, all in Japan, he said.

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By The Associated Press(equals)

The Dow Jones industrial average closed up 56.14 points, or 0.4 percent, at 14,988.55. The Standard & Poor's 500 rose 1.33 points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,615.41. The Nasdaq composite gained 10.27 points, or 0.3 percent, to 3,443.67.

U.S. benchmark oil gained $1.64 to $101.24 per barrel, its highest close since May 3, 2012. Brent crude, which is used to price oil used by many U.S. refineries to make gasoline, rose $1.76 to finish at $105.76.

Wholesale gasoline rose 6 cents to end at $2.84 per gallon. Heating oil was up 5 cents to finish at $2.95 per gallon. Natural gas rose 4 cents to end at $3.69 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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