Stocks rise...Fandango, Credit Karma in security-flaw settlement...Jobless rate drops in most states

NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks are higher in afternoon trading on Wall Street, after two days of declines. Investors are encouraged by news that U.S. consumer spending rose in February. And tech stocks are recovering from a week of losses with help from Microsoft, which announced yesterday that it's bringing Microsoft Office to the iPad and shifting its focus away from Windows.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Federal Trade Commission says the mobile apps of movie ticket seller Fandango and credit report provider Credit Karma may have exposed millions of users' sensitive personal information, including credit card data and Social Security numbers. The FTC says the companies failed to properly secure their apps for several years. The companies fixed the security issue last year and agreed to settle the FTC's charges. They say they're not aware of any information being stolen.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Labor Department says unemployment rates fell in most states last month, and two-thirds of the states reported job gains. Unemployment rates dropped in 29 states, rose in 10 and were unchanged in the remaining 11. Hiring rose in 33 states and fell in 17. Rhode Island reported the highest unemployment rate, at 9 percent. North Dakota had the lowest rate, 2.6 percent.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A private survey finds U.S. consumer sentiment slipped in March from the previous month, as Americans said they were less likely to buy cars and homes because of slightly higher interest rates. The University of Michigan says its consumer sentiment index dipped to 80 in March from 81.6 in February. But one out of three respondents said they expect their finances to improve in the year ahead, the highest proportion since the recession ended in June 2009.

GREER, S.C. (AP) -- BMW is marking its 20th anniversary of building cars in the United States by investing $1 billion in its South Carolina plant over the next two years. The German automaker announced today that it will build two of its new X-series vehicles at the facility in Greer, near Spartanburg, which began the wave of foreign automakers building Southern plants. Almost 300,000 BMWs were made in South Carolina last year.

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