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Business Highlights

The Associated Press

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Budget negotiators close on debt, agency spending deal

WASHINGTON (AP) — Negotiators are nearing agreement on a $1.3 trillion budget that will push the government's ability to borrow past next year's elections. It comes as budget deficits are rising to $1 trillion levels - requiring the government to borrow a quarter for every dollar it spends - despite the thriving economy and Trump promises to crack down on domestic spending.

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Equifax to pay up to $700M in data breach settlement

NEW YORK (AP) — Equifax will pay at least $700 million — and potentially much more — to settle lawsuits over a 2017 data breach that exposed the Social Security numbers and similar sensitive information of roughly half of the U.S. population. The settlement with federal authorities and states includes up to $425 million in monetary relief to consumers and a $100 million civil penalty. But it can't guarantee safety for individuals whose stolen information could circulate on the internet for decades

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Microsoft pays $25 million to settle corruption charges

NEW YORK (AP) — Microsoft is paying more than $25 million to settle federal corruption charges involving a bribery scheme in Hungary and other offices. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said Monday that Microsoft will pay about $16.6 million to settle charges that it violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The Justice Department says Microsoft will also pay an $8.75 million criminal fine.

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US hotels caught in fight over housing detained migrants

DETROIT (AP) — Hotels are facing pressure from advocacy groups and unions after the federal government said it may use their rooms to house detained migrants. Major hotel companies said they're against it after the Trump administration announced immigration arrests targeting families last weekend and mentioned the possibility of using hotels. The acting head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement says that without the option, families may be separated.

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New audio shows UK could not prevent Iran takeover of tanker

LONDON (AP) — The release of an audio recording has shed new light on the seizure of a British-flagged tanker at the hands of Iran's Revolutionary Guard as tensions flare in the strategic Strait of Hormuz. The audio released by maritime security risk firm Dryad Global shows that a British frigate was too far away from the targeted tanker to keep it from being diverted into an Iranian port despite British efforts to keep it from being boarded.

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US slaps Chinese firm for importing Iranian oil

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration is penalizing a Chinese company and its top executive for violating U.S. restrictions on dealing with Iran. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the U.S. is imposing sanctions on Zhuhai Zhenrong Ltd. and its chief executive for violating restrictions on Iran's oil industry. Pompeo announced the sanctions Monday in a speech in Orlando to the VFW.

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European Central Bank could act before Fed to add stimulus

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — The European Central Bank could take action including a possible rate cut at its policy meeting on Thursday, as central banks rev up stimulus to support the world economy through uncertainty from trade wars and Brexit. The ECB, which sets interest rates for the 19 countries that use the euro, is expected by many analysts to at least tweak its promise to keep interest rates at rock-bottom levels into next year. But a rate cut Thursday is not out of the question.

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Bayer sells Dr. Scholl's foot care business to Boston firm

BERLIN (AP) — German pharmaceutical and chemical company Bayer AG says U.S. investment firm Yellow Wood Partners will buy its Dr. Scholl's foot care business for $585 million. Bayer said Monday that the sale will enable it to "focus on building its core over-the-counter brands."

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Hospitals put Native Americans at opioid risk, audit says

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — A U.S. government audit that has been made public found that government hospitals placed Native Americans at increased risk for opioid abuse and overdoses. The audit release on Monday says a handful of Indian Health Service hospitals failed to follow the agency's protocols for dispensing and prescribing opioids. The Indian Health Service agreed with the more than a dozen recommendations and says changes are in the works.

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FDA approves 9 generic versions of nerve pain drug Lyrica

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the first generic copies of a popular pill for nerve pain. The agency on Monday said it approved nine generic versions of Pfizer Inc.'s Lyrica.

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Technology shines on an otherwise sluggish day for US stocks

NEW YORK (AP) — Tech stocks were the standouts in an otherwise sluggish day of trading on Monday, as investors gear up for the arrival of the heart of earnings reporting season. Apple, Intel and several chip makers jumped more than 2%, and technology stocks in the S&P 500 climbed 1.2%. But the other 10 sectors that make up the index were evenly split between gainers and losers, and none moved by more than 0.5%.

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The S&P 500 rose 8.42 points, or 0.3%, at 2,985.03. The Dow Jones Industrial Average edged up 17.70, or 0.1%, to 21,171.90, and the Nasdaq composite rose 57.65, or 0.7%, to 8,204.14. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks slipped 3.11 points, or 0.2%, to 1,544.78.