Business Highlights

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

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Even as gas prices rise, drivers will save at the pump

DALLAS (AP) — Gasoline prices have started their annual springtime migration higher, but motorists should still save money at the pump in 2016.

The national average price for a gallon of regular has risen for eight straight days — the first time that has happened since last May, according to the auto club AAA — to about $1.79 on Wednesday. But that's still 54 cents cheaper than at this time last year.

Forecasters say prices should rise at least 30 cents or more by June. Demand will rise as people drive more, and supplies will tighten when refiners slow down to perform maintenance and switch to more expensive summer fuel blends.

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Ex-Chesapeake CEO Aubrey McClendon dies in crash

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Natural gas industry titan Aubrey McClendon died after driving his sport utility vehicle "straight into a wall" in Oklahoma City on Wednesday, police said. McClendon's death comes a day after he was been indicted by a federal grand jury on a charge of conspiring to rig bids to buy oil and natural gas leases.

Police Capt. Paco Balderrama said McClendon, also a part-owner of the NBA's Oklahoma City Thunder, was the only occupant in the vehicle when it slammed into a concrete bridge embankment.

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Survey: US companies added 214,000 jobs in February

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. businesses added a healthy 214,000 jobs last month, another sign that the U.S. job market remains resilient despite economic weakness overseas and tumult in financial markets.

Payroll processor ADP said Wednesday that the better-than-expected hiring by private companies was up from a revised 193,000 in January.

"It's a very strong report. The labor market is healthy," said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics. "This is very good news particularly in the context of the turmoil in the financial markets in the past several months."

Moody's helps compile the ADP numbers.

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Fed survey finds weaker exports hurting manufacturers

WASHINGTON (AP) — The economy was expanding in most of the country in January and February, helped by gains in consumer spending and home sales. But there were also rising headwinds from falling oil prices and a strong dollar that held back some sectors, the Federal Reserve said Wednesday.

The Fed's latest survey of business conditions in its 12 regions found moderate gains in most regions. The survey, known as the 'Beige Book,' will be discussed at the central bank's next meeting later this month.

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Sports Authority files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection

NEW YORK (AP) — Sports Authority is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, citing a difficult retail industry.

The retailer said Wednesday that it plans to close or sell about 140 stores and two distribution centers. The Englewood, Colorado, company has 463 stores in 41 states and Puerto Rico. The store closings are expected to take up to three months.

Sports Authority stores will remain open and run on normal schedules during the Chapter 11 process.

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Stocks made small gains as energy companies surge

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks eked out tiny gains Wednesday as oil prices continued to recover and investors hoped the worst is over for the beleaguered energy industry. Telecommunications companies, which have climbed as the rest of the market has struggled this year, also rose.

Indexes wavered between tiny gains and losses for most of the day, then climbed steadily in the last 90 minutes of trading. Oil prices increased for the seventh time in eight days, an encouraging sign after many months of sharp declines. After Tuesday's big gains, the market is the highest it's been since the first week of the year.

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Canadian Pacific approached CSX about deal while pursuing NS

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Canadian Pacific reportedly approached the CSX railroad about a possible merger earlier this year while it continued to pursue its proposed takeover of rival Norfolk Southern.

The latest overture to Jacksonville, Florida-based CSX was first reported by The Wall Street Journal. Canadian Pacific first contacted CSX in the fall of 2014 about a potential deal and was rejected.

Canadian Pacific CEO Hunter Harrison said his railroad remains committed to its roughly $30 billion bid for Norfolk Southern.

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VW rejects allegations it didn't give timely info on scandal

BERLIN (AP) — Volkswagen on Wednesday rejected allegations that it didn't go public early enough with information on its emissions-rigging scandal.

The company faces suits at a court in Braunschweig, Germany, from shareholders. They argue that, under German law, it should have disclosed information two weeks before it did. Volkswagen said that it "considers the German shareholder lawsuits to be without merit."

News of the scandal broke on Sept. 18 when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Volkswagen had installed software on 482,000 cars that enabled them to cheat on emissions tests.

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Yahoo adds competitive video gaming to sports vertical

NEW YORK (AP) — Yahoo is adding a new and potentially lucrative component to its sports vertical: competitive video gaming.

The company on Wednesday announced the launch of Yahoo Esports, an online channel devoted to gaming, including expert commentary and interviews with top players. Esports will also feature articles, scores, team rosters, schedules, player rankings, calendars and statistics.

E-sports is attracting some big names to the field who are seeking to dominate early. ESPN announced its own e-sports vertical this year.

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AB InBev to sell SABMiller stake in China's Snow beer

LONDON (AP) — Anheuser-Busch InBev has agreed to sell SABMiller's stake in China's Snow Breweries for $1.6 billion to ease regulatory concerns about the merger of the world's two biggest beermakers.

AB InBev says it agreed to sell SABMiller's 49 percent stake in Snow to China Resources Beer Co., which owns the rest of China's largest brewer. The deal is contingent on the completion of AB InBev's 69 billion pound ($106 billion) takeover of SABMiller.

The sale will ease concerns that AB InBev, which is already China's third largest brewer, would have a stranglehold on the lucrative Chinese market.

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The Dow Jones industrial average edged up 34.24 points, or 0.2 percent, to 16,899.32. The Standard & Poor's 500 index added 8.10 points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,986.45. The Nasdaq composite index rose 13.83 points, or 0.3 percent, to 4,703.42.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose 26 cents to close at $34.66 a barrel in New York, its highest closing price since Jan. 5. Brent crude gained 12 cents to $36.93 a barrel in London. In other energy trading, the price of natural gas fell 6 cents to close at $1.68 per 1,000 cubic feet. Wholesale gasoline rose 1 cent to $1.31 a gallon. Heating oil rose 1 cent to $1.11 a gallon.