Business Highlights

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

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President Obama calling for tighter rules for retirement account brokers

WASHINGTON (AP) — Tapping the anxieties of aging baby boomers, President Barack Obama on Monday called for tougher standards on brokers who manage retirement savings accounts.

The Labor Department submitted a proposal to the White House Monday that would require the brokers who sell stocks, bonds, annuities and other investments to disclose to their clients any fees or other payments they receive for recommending certain investments.

The change could affect the investment advice received by many Americans and aggravate tensions between the White House and Wall Street.

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Greece readies new list of bailout reforms

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Caught between its own defiant campaign pledges and pressure from creditors, Greece's left-wing government will deliver a list of reforms Tuesday to debt inspectors for final approval of extended rescue loans, officials said.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was already facing dissent within his left-wing Syriza party over claims it is backtracking on its recent election-winning promises to ease budget cuts for the recession-battered Greeks.

Two officials linked to the government said the list will be reviewed by eurozone finance ministers Tuesday.

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Honda to replace its CEO amid air bag crisis, sales drop

TOKYO (AP) — Honda Motor Co., hurt by falling sales and embroiled in a crisis over defective air bags, is replacing its CEO.

The Japanese automaker said Monday that Takanobu Ito, its president and chief executive officer since 2009, will step aside in June and be succeeded by longtime executive Takahiro Hachigo.

The unexpected decision follows the recalls of more 6.2 million Honda vehicles in the U.S. — and millions of others elsewhere — equipped with air bags made by Japan's Takata Corp. The air bags have inflators that can explode, expelling shards of metal and plastic.

At least six deaths and 64 injuries have been linked to the problem worldwide.

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Tobacco companies fighting over claims on smoking's effects

WASHINGTON (AP) — America's biggest tobacco companies asked a federal appeals court Monday to set aside a series of court-ordered advertisements saying they lied about the dangers of smoking.

The companies told a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington that they're ready and willing to pass along factual public health information about cigarettes.

But they don't want to underwrite an ad campaign that would have the companies brand themselves as liars.

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US home sales plunge 4.9 percent in January

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. home sales struck a snow drift in January, plunging to the slowest pace in nine months.

The National Association of Realtors said Monday that sales of existing homes tumbled 4.9 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.82 million. That brings sales down to their lowest level since April 2014.

Relatively low mortgage rates and steady job growth have yet to spur more activity from buyers and sellers. Few properties are being listed for sale, would-be buyers are holding off on purchases and snowstorms are cutting into traffic at open houses.

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Trial nears in high-profile Silicon Valley sex bias case

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Lawyers began picking a jury Monday to determine whether a venerable Silicon Valley venture capital firm is liable in a sexual discrimination lawsuit or is the victim of a former employee forced out because of poor performance.

The lawsuit filed by Ellen Pao, 45, and the back-and-forth court filings with her former employer Kleiner, Perkins, Caulfield & Byers have rekindled debate over gender and racial bias in Silicon Valley in general and the venture capital sector in particular.

Venture capital firms provide much of the startup funds for tech companies and have a reputation as being even more insular and male-dominated than the companies they help launch.

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Google teams up with 3 wireless carriers to combat Apple Pay

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Aiming to undercut Apple's latest hit service, Google is teaming up with three major U.S. wireless carriers to prod more people into using its mobile wallet.

The counterattack announced Monday is just the latest example of how the competition between Google Inc. and Apple Inc. is extending beyond the technology industry's traditional boundaries. Besides payments, Silicon Valley's two richest companies are expanding into fields such as home appliances and cars to increase their power and profits.

Google's latest volley calls for its payment service to be built into Android smartphones sold by AT&T Inc., Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile USA later this year.

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Disney animators win Oscar 2 years in a row

NEW YORK (AP) — The Walt Disney Co. proved Sunday that its power doesn't only come from Pixar.

For the second year in a row, Disney Animation won an Academy Award for best animated feature, as "Big Hero 6" followed up last year's "Frozen" win. The studio's "Feast" also won for best animated short. Neither film is connected to the company's Pixar unit, which Disney bought in 2006 for $7.4 billion in stock.

Since then, the Disney Pixar combo had scooped up most animated feature Oscars with blockbusters including "Finding Nemo," ''Toy Story 3" and "Brave." Pixar didn't release a film in 2014.

"Big Hero 6," is Disney's first animated film to take advantage of the company's 2009 acquisition of Marvel. The win shows that Disney has "deepened its bench" with the Marvel deal and 2012 acquisition of Star Wars owner Lucasfilm, said Seth Shapiro, a professor at the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts.

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Target slices free-shipping minimum in half to $25

NEW YORK (AP) — Target has sliced its minimum online purchase to qualify for free shipping in half to $25 as the Internet becomes a bigger sales hub for retailers.

The minimum takes aim at competitors Wal-Mart and Amazon.com, both of which have higher minimums for standard purchases, and could be another step in a slow march among retailers toward eliminating separate shipping fees.

Target said free shipping is now available for all online orders coming from the continental U.S. or from military postal facilities. The company says handling fees may still apply to some orders.

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Higher rates coming? Yellen faces lawmakers at pivotal time

WASHINGTON (AP) — After years of sounding reassuring notes about the need to keep interest rates at record lows, the Federal Reserve is finding the shift to an era of pending rate hikes a tricky and complicated one.

But anyone who expects Fed Chair Janet Yellen to clarify the timetable for a rate hike when she speaks to Congress this week could be disappointed.

Yellen seems likely to take a wait-and-see stance.

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Labor chief: Unions to push on wages in 2016 campaign

ATLANTA (AP) — Politicians of all ideologies have failed American workers in an era of rising corporate profits and declining wages, the nation's top labor leader said Monday, vowing to pressure candidates running for president in 2016 to address the issue.

The nation's largest association of workers is meeting in Atlanta this week to work on its strategy for the upcoming campaign.

The leader of the 12.5-million member organization said higher wages can be a "unifying progressive value," but acknowledged unions are struggling to connect with voters skeptical of the benefits of organized labor.

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Most West Coast ports bustling again after labor deal

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Nearly all West Coast seaports began the work week with crews hustling to load and unload cargo ships that were held up amid a months-long dispute over a new contract for dockworkers.

The exception Monday was the Port of Oakland, where problems persisted three days after negotiators for the dockworkers' union and for employers reached a tentative agreement covering all 29 West Coast ports.

Those ports handle roughly one-quarter of U.S. international trade, an amount worth about $1 trillion annually.

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EU opens in-depth probe of GE takeover of Alstom power unit

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union opened an in-depth probe of General Electric's $14.1 billion takeover of the power division of French company Alstom on Monday fearing higher prices and less choice.

The European Commission made the move Monday after an initial investigation "indicates potential competition concerns in the market for heavy-duty gas turbines," which are used in gas-fired power plants, it said in a statement.

EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said her anti-competitive concerns also included "less innovation in the sector."

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 23.60 points, or 0.1 percent, to 18,116.84. The Standard & Poor's 500 index dipped 0.64 point, or 0.03 percent, to 2,109.66. The Nasdaq composite rose 5.01 points, or 0.1 percent, to 4,960.97.

Benchmark U.S. crude fell $1.36 to close at $49.45 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, fell $1.32 to close at $58.90 in London. Wholesale gasoline rose 0.6 cent to close at $1.646 a gallon. Heating oil rose 10.6 cents to close at $2.218 a gallon. Natural gas fell 7.2 cents to close at $2.879 per 1,000 cubic feet.