Business News at 1:50 p.m.

Business News at 1:50 p.m.

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All times EST.

TOP STORIES:

ECONOMY

WASHINGTON Even after the best three-month hiring spree in 17 years, U.S. employers are showing few signs of letting up. Job growth for February, to be reported Friday, may not match the furious pace of November through January. Still, economists foresee another solid gain and a drop in unemployment to a near-normal 5.6 percent for a job market that continues to outshine others around the world. By Christopher S. Rugaber. UPCOMING: 800 words by 3:30 p.m.

ETSY IPO-TURNING CRAFTS INTO CASH

NEW YORK What will Etsy's IPO mean for the craftspeople on its site? Can the online retailer keep its funky, folksy brand image while selling more mass-produced items to generate big bucks for investors? By Mae Anderson. UPCOMING: 500 words by 4 p.m., photos.

SILCON VALLEY-SEXUAL DISCRIMINATION

SAN FRANCISCO The woman at the center of a sex discrimination lawsuit against one of Silicon Valley's most prestigious venture capital firms is set to take the stand in a case that has focused attention on the treatment of women in the high-tech and venture capital fields. By Sudhin Thanawala. SENT: 530 words, photos. UPCOMING: Will be updated from testimony, timing uncertain.

EUROPEAN CENTRAL BANK

NICOSIA, Cyprus The struggling eurozone economy is picking up momentum ahead of the launch next week of a 1.1 trillion euro ($1.2 trillion) stimulus program, European Central Bank head Mario Draghi says. By Menelaos Hadjicostis and David McHugh. SENT: 560 words, photo.

FLIGHT 370 ANNIVERSARY-WHAT IF

SYDNEY Could the expensive, exhausting search for Flight 370 simply end one day, with no success? It is a prospect that fills families, search officials and the aviation industry with dread. By Kristen Gelineau. SENT: 1,370 words, photos.

ABBVIE-PHARMACYCLICS

AbbVie will spend about $21 billion to buy fellow drugmaker Pharmacyclics and add another major revenue producer to a portfolio that already includes the world's top-selling drug. By Tom Murphy. SENT: 700 words, photo.

SUPREME COURT-HEALTH OVERHAUL-STATES

MIAMI Consumers in three dozen states using the federal health insurance exchange face an uncertain future after the Supreme Court appeared divided over whether to end their premium subsides. Alternate plans to help them keep their policies if the subsidies end have yet to emerge. By Kelli Kennedy. UPCOMING: 800 words by 5 p.m., photos, video.

MARKETS & ECONOMY:

FED-BANK STRESS TESTS

WASHINGTON The Federal Reserve issues the results of its annual "stress tests" of the largest U.S. banks and subsidiaries of foreign banks. The tests are intended to gauge how well the industry would fare in a severe recession. By Martin Crutsinger and Ken Sweet. UPCOMING: 130 words after release of results at 4:30 p.m., 350 words by 5:30 p.m.

UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS

WASHINGTON The number of people seeking unemployment benefits rises last week to the highest level since May, though the level of applications remains at a level consistent with steady hiring. By Christopher S. Rugaber. SENT: 490 words, photo.

FACTORY ORDERS

WASHINGTON Orders to U.S. factories fall again in January but a key investment category shows a gain. By Martin Crutsinger. SENT: 390 words, photo.

PRODUCTIVITY

WASHINGTON U.S. worker productivity is even weaker than first thought from October through December while labor costs rise at a faster rate. By Martin Crutsinger. SENT: 460 words, photo.

MORTGAGE RATES

WASHINGTON Average long-term mortgage rates have fallen for the first time in four weeks and remain near historic lows reached in May 2013. By Paul Wiseman. SENT: 320 words, photo.

FINANCIAL MARKETS

NEW YORK U.S. stocks open higher on Thursday, led by gains for utilities and health care companies. By Steve Rothwell. SENT: 600 words. UPCOMING: 700 words by 5 p.m.

INDUSTRY:

SUPERBUG OUTBREAK-FDA

WASHINGTON Federal health officials say that the manufacturer of a medical instrument at the center of a recent "superbug" outbreak in Los Angeles did not receive federal clearance to sell the device. By Matthew Perrone. SENT: 560 words.

RINGLING BROS CIRCUS-ELEPHANTS

POLK CITY, Fla. The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is ending its iconic elephant acts. The circus' parent company, Feld Entertainment, tells The Associated Press exclusively that the acts will be phased out by 2018. Growing public concern about how the animals are treated led to the decision. By Tamara Lush. SENT: 1,000 words, photos, video.

PET SPENDING-THINGS TO KNOW

LOS ANGELES A pet industry trade group says Americans spent $58 billion on their pets in 2014. The American Pet Products Association says that includes $22 billion for food, $15 billion for veterinary care and $14 billion for supplies such as bowls and beds and medicines for fleas and ticks. SENT: 610 words.

LAGUARDIA-PLANE OFF RUNWAY Officials say six people aboard a Delta plane from Atlanta that skidded off a runway at LaGuardia Airport while landing have injuries that aren't life threatening. SENT: 770 words, video. UPCOMING: Will be updated.

MINE EXPLOSION-INVESTIGATION A federal appeals court invalidates a sweeping gag order in the case of a former coal company executive accused of violating safety standards at a West Virginia mine where an explosion killed 29 men. SENT: 430 words.

EXXON MOBIL-SETTLEMENT New Jersey announces a $225 million settlement with Exxon Mobil that officials say is the largest environmental settlement in state history though it has been criticized by Democratic lawmakers who say it is for a mere fraction of the nearly $9 billion initially sought. SENT: 300 words.

EARLY SCHOOL START Business owners nationwide are expressing growing concern about early school start dates and their effect on tourism revenue during critical summer months, and proposed legislation in at least half-a-dozen states indicates the debate over control of the educational calendar isn't going away anytime soon. By Barbara Rodriguez. UPCOMING: 800 words, photos by 1 p.m.

SNUGGIE MAKER SETTLES The company behind the Snuggie, Perfect Bacon Bowl and other "As Seen on TV" products agrees to pay $8 million to settle charges that it deceived customers. SENT: 280 words.

EBOLA VACCINE The World Health Organization will start large-scale testing of an experimental Ebola vaccine in Guinea on Saturday to see how effective it might be in preventing future outbreaks of the deadly virus. SENT: 460 words.

TECHNOLOGY & MEDIA:

CHINA-APPLE-SMARTPHONES A consumer survey shows the popularity of the iPhone 6 has driven Apple's market share in China to its highest ever while Samsung has continued to lose ground. SENT: 350 words.

INTERNATIONAL:

BRITAIN-ECONOMY The Bank of England opts to keep interest rates steady at 0.5 percent even as the economic recovery brings the prospect of rate hikes closer. SENT: 130 words.

GERMANY-ECONOMY German factory orders, a key indicator for Europe's biggest economy, drop much further than expected in January, led by falling demand from other eurozone countries. SENT: 200 words, photo.

EUROPE-ENERGY Spain welcomes a new agreement to connect its energy networks with Portugal and France as a major step toward breaking Europe's dependence on Russian gas supplies. SENT: 300 words.

LIBYA-OIL Libya's state-run oil corporation has declared 11 oil fields in the country non-operational after attacks by suspected Islamic State militants, opting for a force majeure clause that exempts the state from contractual obligations. SENT: 850 words.

EGYPT-ECONOMY Egypt's investment minister says his government hopes to attract up to $35 billion from about 50 projects offered to investors during a much-hailed international economic conference later this month. SENT: 130 words.

PERSONAL FINANCE:

OF MUTUAL INTEREST-DIVIDENDS

Dividend investing used to be so easy, not to mention lucrative, but mutual-fund managers say it's about to get a lot different. UPCOMING: 800 words by 5 p.m.

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CENTERPIECE

Visa lands Costco

Visa scored a big win this week when Costco announced that it will replace American Express as the retailer's processing network in the U.S. UPCOMING: Graphic expected by 6 p.m.

COMPANY SPOTLIGHT

Pharmacyclics shares jump

Pharmacyclics shares jump after fellow drugmaker AbbVie says it will spend $21 billion to buy the company. UPCOMING: Graphic expected by 6 p.m.