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Pay gap between college grads and everyone else at a record

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans with no more than a high school diploma have fallen so far behind college graduates in their economic lives that the earnings gap between college grads and everyone else has reached its widest point on record.

The growing disparity has become a source of frustration for millions of Americans worried that they — and their children — are losing economic ground.

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College graduates, on average, earned 56 percent more than high school grads in 2015, according to data compiled by the Economic Policy Institute. That was up from 51 percent in 1999 and is the largest such gap in EPI’s figures dating to 1973.

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Ethics official denounces Trump’s plan for business

NEW YORK (AP) — President-elect Donald Trump said Wednesday he will continue to profit from his global business empire after he enters the White House this month — a precedent-breaking decision that the director of the Office of Government Ethics swiftly condemned as unpatriotic.

At a news conference announcing a much-anticipated plan for dealing with his sprawling company, Trump and his lawyer said the Trump Organization would be run by the president-elect’s adult sons and a longtime company executive, although the president-elect will retain an ownership stake in a trust that holds his business assets.

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US gov’t accuses Fiat Chrysler of cheating on emissions

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. government accused Fiat Chrysler on Thursday of failing to disclose software in some of its pickups and SUVs with diesel engines that allows them to emit more pollution than allowed under the Clean Air Act.

The Environmental Protection Agency issued a “notice of violation” to the company that covers about 104,000 vehicles including the 2014 through 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ram pickups, all with 3-liter diesel engines. The California Air Resources Board took similar action.

Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne denied any wrongdoing, saying the EPA was blowing the issue out of proportion.

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CVS generic competitor to EpiPen, sold at a 6th the price

CVS is now selling a rival, generic version of Mylan’s EpiPen at about a sixth of its price, just months after the maker of the life-saving allergy treatment was eviscerated because of its soaring cost.

The drugstore chain says it will charge $109.99 for a two-pack of the authorized generic version of Adrenaclick, a lesser-known treatment compared to EpiPen, which can cost more than $600.

The nation’s second-largest drugstore chain says it cut the price it charges for the generic version of Adrenaclick nearly in half. The lower price is now available at all CVS stores.

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Financial companies lead US stocks lower; oil rises

Banks and other financial companies led U.S. stocks modestly lower Thursday, wiping out much of the market’s gains from a day earlier.

Phone companies, real estate, utilities and health care stocks eked out gains. Energy, technology and other stocks that posted big gains in the weeks after the November election lost ground. Banks, which moved sharply higher through much of the postelection rally in November and December, were hurt by a drop in bond yields, which can push down interest rates on loans, squeezing banks’ profits.

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OPEC chief ‘confident’ countries to meet oil production cuts

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The head of OPEC said on Thursday that he remains “confident” that the cartel and outside members will stick to an agreement to cut production to help boost oil prices.

The comments by OPEC Secretary-General Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo of Nigeria come as the cartel and nonmembers try to stick to the landmark deal after oil prices collapsed last year.

OPEC agreed in late November to cut its production by 1.2 million barrels a day, the first reduction agreed to by the cartel since 2008. Nearly a dozen other countries pledged in December to cut an additional 558,000 barrels a day.

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Amazon plans to hire 100,000 over the next 18 months

NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon plans to hire 100,000 full-time workers over the next 18 months. The move highlights its ambitious expansion plans and the sharp contrast to traditional brick-and-mortar retailers, many of which are cutting jobs and closing stores.

Amazon has long been known for investing the money it makes back into its businesses, and it’s doing that with a vengeance. The new hires will largely support new Amazon fulfillment centers in states such as Texas and California, expanded delivery capabilities and its money-minting Amazon Web Services cloud computing business.

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Applications for US jobless aid rise to still-low 247,000

WASHINGTON (AP) — More Americans sought unemployment benefits last week, but the increase was modest and overall applications remain low, a sign of a steady job market.

Weekly applications for unemployment aid rose 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 247,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, slipped 1,750 to 256,500. And the number of people receiving aid fell 29,000 to 2.1 million. That’s down 7.2 percent from a year ago.

Applications, which are a proxy for layoffs, are at historic lows. That suggests businesses are confident enough in future demand to hold tightly onto their staffs.

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Average US 30-year mortgage rate falls to 4.12 percent

WASHINGTON (AP) — Long-term US mortgage rates fell this week, the second week of declines after snapping a nine-week run of increases.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday the rate on 30-year fixed-rate loans eased to an average 4.12 percent from 4.20 percent last week. That was still sharply higher than a 30-year rate that averaged 3.65 percent for all of 2016, the lowest level recorded from records going back to 1971. A year ago, the benchmark rate stood at 3.92 percent.

The average for a 15-year mortgage declined to 3.37 percent from 3.44 percent last week.

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Delta posts better-than expected 4Q revenue

ATLANTA (AP) — Delta reported better-than-expected revenue in the fourth quarter, while its adjusted profit met Wall Street’s view. The airline benefited from lower fuel costs.

For the three months through December, Delta earned $622 million, or 84 cents per share. A year earlier the Atlanta-based company earned $980 million, or $1.25 per share. Earnings, adjusted for one-time gains, were 82 cents per share.

Revenue slipped to $9.46 billion from $9.5 billion, but beat the $9.35 billion that analysts polled by Zacks Investment Research anticipated.

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The Dow Jones industrial average slid 63.28 points, or 0.3 percent, to 19,891. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index lost 4.88 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,270.44. The Nasdaq composite fell 16.16 points, or 0.3 percent, to 5,547.49.

Benchmark crude oil rose 76 cents, or 1.5 percent, to close at $53.01 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, which is used to price oil sold internationally, added 91 cents, or 1.7 percent, to close at $56.01 a barrel in London. In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline added 2 cents to $1.61 a gallon and heating oil rose 2 cents to $1.68 a gallon. Natural gas futures gained 16 cents, or 5 percent, to $3.39 per 1,000 cubic feet.