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Feb 17, 5:30 PM EST

Business Highlights


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Kraft still hungry for Unilever after rejected offer

NEW YORK (AP) - U.S. food giant Kraft Heinz Co. says it's still hoping to buy Unilever after its offer was rejected. Unilever said the $143 million offer undervalues it and that it sees no basis for further talks. The maker of Oscar Mayer meats, Jell-O pudding and Velveeta cheese said there's no certainty that it will make another offer for Unilever, which owns brands including Hellmann's, Lipton and Knorr.

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Customers avoid new Wells Fargo accounts after sales scandal

NEW YORK (AP) - Customers are still turning their backs on Wells Fargo after a scandal over sales practices, with the bank saying Friday the number of new checking accounts people opened was down 31 percent in January from a year earlier.Applications for credit cards were even worse, dropping 47 percent. Branch bankers had 14 percent fewer interactions with customers. Wells Fargo has been releasing monthly reports on these figures since the outcry over its sales practices as a sort of "report card" on how the bank has been dealing with the scandal.

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Trump's Boeing speech shows differences with Obama

President Donald Trump on Friday hyped the latest Boeing 787 Dreamliner as proof of a coming American manufacturing renaissance. It was a sharp contrast to Barack Obama, who toured a Boeing plant as president back in 2012 and spoke about the loss of factory jobs to automation and need to retool the economy for the future.

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Samsung family succession hits snag with chief's arrest

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - South Korea was taken by surprise Friday with the arrest of the scion of the country's richest family and de-facto leader at Samsung over his alleged involvement in a massive corruption scandal that engulfed the president and riveted the nation.

Prosecutors believe Lee Jae-yong, 48, a vice chairman at Samsung Electronics and the only son of the ailing Samsung chairman, gave bribes worth $36 million to President Park Geun-hye and her close friend to help win government support for a smooth company leadership transition, including a contentious merger of two Samsung companies.

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Stocks inch to new records; S&P 500 up 4 straight weeks

NEW YORK (AP) - Stock indexes inched ahead to record highs Friday, barely, after a late-afternoon push erased losses from earlier in the day. It caps the fourth straight week of gains for the Standard & Poor's 500 index, its longest such streak since July.

Reports through the week showed that the economy is improving and corporate profits are growing more quickly than analysts expected. The encouraging data, along with hopes for lower taxes and other business-friendly policies from Washington, pushed the S&P 500 to a 1.5 percent rise last week, its best weekly performance since the first week of January.

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Fannie Mae to pay Treasury $5.5 billion after profit doubles

NEW YORK (AP) - Fannie Mae said Friday that it will pay the U.S. Treasury a $5.5 billion dividend next month after its profit doubled in its latest quarter.

The government-controlled mortgage company has already paid the Treasury $154.4 billion in dividends since receiving $116.1 billion in government bailouts between 2008 and 2011. Fannie Mae's sibling Freddie Mac, which was also rescued by the government during the recession, said Thursday that it would pay the Treasury a $4.5 billion dividend next month after its profit soared.

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Pruitt OK'd as EPA chief over environmentalists' objections

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Senate confirmed Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency on Friday over the strong objections of environmental groups, giving President Donald Trump an eager partner to fulfill his campaign pledge to increase the use of planet-warming fossil fuels.

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Southwest lawsuit claims union workers avoiding overtime

DALLAS (AP) - Southwest Airlines Co. is suing a major union and its leaders, charging that they did nothing to stop mechanics from boycotting overtime assignments.

Dallas-based Southwest, the nation's fourth-biggest airline, says it relies on mechanics working consistent overtime hours to keep up with maintenance work, and that a boycott has driven up costs by forcing it to bring in outside workers. The lawsuit comes as the airline and the union remain locked in contract negotiations that have dragged on for more than four years despite the help of a federal labor mediator.

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The Dow Jones industrial average rose 4.28 points, or less than 0.1 percent, to 20,624.05. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 3.94 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,351.16. The Nasdaq composite rose 23.68 points, or 0.4 percent, to 5,838.58.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose 4 cents to settle at $53.40 a barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, fell 16 cents to close at $55.81 a barrel. Natural gas fell 2 cents to $2.83 per 1,000 cubic feet, wholesale gasoline fell nearly 1 cent to $1.52 per gallon and heating oil rose a fraction of a penny to $1.64 per gallon.

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