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Walmart boosts starting pay, closing dozens of Sam’s Clubs

NEW YORK (AP) — Walmart is closing dozens of Sam’s Club warehouse stores across the country after announcing earlier that it was boosting its starting salary for U.S. workers. The world’s largest private employer said it was closing 63 Sam’s Clubs over the next week, with some shut already. It said earlier it was raising its starting wage to $11 an hour.


Delta’s profit dips 8 percent but tops Street’s expectations

DALLAS (AP) — Delta Air Lines reports fourth-quarter profit of $572 million, down 8 percent from a year ago but easily beating expectations. The Atlanta company says a measure of average prices rose and will climb again in the first quarter, signaling that a 2-year slump in prices is over. The shares are higher in trading before the opening bell.


Digital currencies dip as South Korea considers trading ban

The price of bitcoin fell and another popular currency, ethereum, wobbled after South Korea, a hotbed for currencies like bitcoin, said it was weighing a trading ban. The country’s justice minister said South Korea plans to ban trading in virtual currencies, but the presidential office said later that a ban is under review.


IRS rolls out new tax tables for promised bigger paychecks

WASHINGTON (AP) — Taking the first concrete step for the Republican tax plan’s promise of fatter paychecks for millions, the Trump administration on Thursday issued new guidelines for how much employers should withhold as taxes from workers’ pay. The Internal Revenue Service published the new income-tax withholding tables to conform to the sweeping $1.5 trillion tax overhaul, which became law last month and took effect Jan 1. Businesses across the country must adopt the changes by Feb. 15.


Some fans of Trump and pot feel allegiances go up in smoke

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Conservatives in favor of pot legalization are chiding the Donald Trump administration’s recent moves as an affront to personal liberties and states’ rights. Some Trump voters say Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ move to tighten federal oversight of the drug is the first time they’ve felt let down by the man they helped elect. It remains to be seen whether Trump’s pot-loving voters will take their anger to the ballot box.


Toyota-Mazda plant: Alabama bids to become a major auto hub

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama has taken to the fast lane it in its bid to become a major auto making hub in the South, landing a $1.6 billion joint venture plant of Toyota and Mazda that will ultimately employ 4,000 people. The new plant is to be located in Huntsville, Alabama — already a hub for the region’s aerospace industry — and will produce 300,000 vehicles per year, a combination of the Toyota Corolla compact car and a new small crossover SUV from Mazda. Officials made the announcement Wednesday.


Local governments won’t say what they’re offering Amazon

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Many state and local governments competing for Amazon’s second headquarters are refusing to disclose the tax breaks or other financial incentives they are offering the online giant. More than 15 states and cities, including Chicago, Cleveland and Las Vegas, have turned down requests from The Associated Press to detail the promises they’ve made. Many of them say they don’t want their competitors to know what they’re offering. Open-government advocates are troubled by that.


Ford says some Rangers should be parked due to air bag death

DETROIT (AP) — Ford is telling owners of about 2,900 2006 Ranger pickup trucks not to drive them after discovering that a man was killed in a wreck involving an exploding Takata air bag inflator. The death occurred July 1 in West Virginia.


Average 30-year mortgage rates rise to 3.99 percent

WASHINGTON (AP) — The cost of borrowing money to buy a home rose this week, but remains at historic lows. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the average rate on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages rose to 3.99 percent, from 3.95 percent last week.


US stocks brush off year’s first wobble, return to records

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks brushed aside their first wobble of the year and got back to setting records on Thursday. Energy stocks led the way after the price of oil touched its highest level since 2014. The gains for indexes marked a return to calm, after a whiff of nervousness wafted through markets a day earlier as interest rates rose. After rates held steady on Thursday, the Standard & Poor’s 500 index marked its seventh gain in the last eight days.


The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 19.33 points, or 0.7 percent, to a record 2,767.56. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 205.60 points, or 0.8 percent, to 25,574.73, the Nasdaq composite gained 58.21 points, or 0.8 percent, to 7,211.78 and the Russell 2000 index of small-cap stocks surged 26.99 points, or 1.7 percent, to 1,586.79.

Benchmark U.S. crude gained 23 cents to settle at $63.80 per barrel after earlier climbing as high as $64.77. Brent crude, the international standard, gained 6 cents to $69.26 per barrel. Natural gas rose 18 cents to settle at $3.08 per 1,000 cubic feet, heating oil was nearly flat at $2.08 per gallon and wholesale gasoline was steady at $1.84 per gallon.

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