Business Highlights

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GOP lawmakers, business groups pressure Trump on tariffs

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker Paul Ryan is calling on President Donald Trump to take a 'more surgical approach' to trade and back off his threat to levy tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. The Republican speaker and business groups are pressuring Trump to alter his approach to avoid any 'unintended consequences or collateral damage' to the economy. Trump has said he's 'not backing down' on his plan to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

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Stocks end higher after a choppy day

U.S. stocks meandered but finished mostly higher Tuesday as retailers and industrial companies rose, and a jump in metals prices helped mining and materials companies. Asian markets jumped after the North Korean government said it was open to talks with the U.S. about ending its nuclear program.

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Senate moves closer to passing bill to ease bank safeguards

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate moved closer Tuesday to passing legislation to roll back some of the safeguards Congress put in place to prevent a repeat of the financial crisis. Enough Democrats supported a procedural vote on the bipartisan bill to show it had a good chance of passage by the Republican-majority Senate. The move to alter some key aspects of the Dodd-Frank law comes ten years after the financial crisis rocked the nation's economy.

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Payday lenders, watchdog agency exhibit cozier relationship

NEW YORK (AP) — The former CEO of a payday lending company that had been under investigation by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has asked to be considered for the top job at the watchdog agency, The Associated Press has learned. Such a request would have been extraordinary in the years when the agency was run by an Obama appointee and often targeted payday lenders. Along with recent actions taken by the CFPB, it suggests a cozier relationship between industry and regulator.

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Target's remake is accelerating, at a cost

NEW YORK (AP) — Target is increasing the minimum hourly pay to $12 starting this spring, the second increase in a matter of months, while accelerating its reinvention plan to make the discounter more competitive in the age of Amazon. The discounter's moves, announced at its annual investor meeting, come as its ambitious plan to remake itself are driving more people to its stores and its website. But its massive overhaul is coming at a cost.

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Zinke says Interior should be a partner with oil companies

HOUSTON (AP) — Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke says his agency should be a partner with energy companies that seek to drill for oil and gas on public land. Speaking at a major energy-industry conference, Zinke described the Trump administration's efforts to increase offshore drilling, reduce regulations, and streamline inspections of oil and gas operators. He says that long regulatory reviews with an uncertain outcome are "un-American."

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White House wants user-friendly electronic health records

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration says it wants to make electronic medical records easier for patients to use. The new initiative called MyHealthEData will be overseen by the White House Office of American Innovation, headed by presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner. Medicare will play a major role. Administrator Seema Verma said Medicare is working on a program called Blue Button 2.0, with the goal of providing beneficiaries with secure access to their claims data, shareable with their doctors.

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Washington legislators tackle homelessness for those on aid

SEATTLE (AP) — Washington state lawmakers are advancing a measure that would prohibit landlords from turning away tenants that rely on federal housing assistance, Social Security income and veterans benefits. It's one of several efforts by Washington politicians and low-income housing advocates aimed at curbing one of the highest homeless rates in the nation.

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Chinese firms will pay $14 million back wages in Saipan case

HONOLULU (AP) — Four Chinese firms will pay nearly $14 million in back wages and damages to thousands of Chinese workers for construction of a casino in the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The U.S. Department of Labor said Monday that investigators found employees were paid less than what was required by law. Hong Kong-based Imperial Pacific International contracted four Chinese firms for construction on Saipan. The company says it's pleased a settlement was reached.

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Chao, lawmakers tangle over Hudson River rail tunnel project

WASHINGTON (AP) — Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao says President Donald Trump is trying to get Congress to block funding for a multi-billion dollar railway tunnel project. The project is a top priority of the Senate's top Democrat, Chuck Schumer. In contentious exchanges with several lawmakers, Chao told a House committee Tuesday that New York and New Jersey "have no skin in the game" and need to put up more money. But Democrats say his real motivation is to undercut Schumer.

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The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 7.18 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,728.12. The Dow Jones industrial average edged up 9.36 points to 24,884.12. It rose as much as 120 points early on and later fell as much as 166 points before recovering. The Nasdaq composite jumped 41.30 points, or 0.6 percent, to 7,372.01. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks climbed 16.16 points, or 1 percent, to 1,562.20.

Benchmark U.S. crude added 3 cents to $62.60 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 25 cents to $65.79 a barrel in London.