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Business Highlights

The Associated Press

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Giddy Up! Automakers raise horsepower, speed to new heights

NEW YORK (AP) -- Automakers are raising horsepower and speed to record heights and showing it off at the New York International Auto Show this week. One car, the Demon Dodge Challenger, has a crazy 840 horsepower. There also will be a super-powerful Honda Civic and even some SUVs that are worthy of the drag strip.

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United: Airline won't use police to remove passengers

CHICAGO (AP) -- The chief executive of United Airlines said the carrier will no longer ask police to remove passengers from full flights after the uproar over a man who was dragged off a plane by airport officers in Chicago. In an interview with ABC's "Good Morning America" aired Wednesday, Oscar Munoz said he felt "ashamed" watching video of the man being forced off the jet. He has promised to review the airline's passenger-removal policy. Munoz apologized again to Kentucky physician David Dao, his family and the other passengers who witnessed him being taken off the flight.

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Trump administration to lift federal hiring freeze

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The federal government hiring freeze implemented by President Donald Trump as one of his first acts in office will be lifted Wednesday. But budget director Mick Mulvaney says many jobs will remain unfilled as the White House embarks on a government-wide effort to overhaul the executive branch and significantly reduce its workforce. Mulvaney told reporters Tuesday at a White House briefing that the move was part of the president's campaign pledge to "drain the swamp" in Washington and save taxpayers money.

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Trump says China won't be labeled a currency manipulator

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Backing away from a campaign pledge, President Donald Trump says his administration will not label China a currency manipulator in a report due this week, though he does feel the U.S. dollar "is getting too strong." Trump also says he would prefer that the Federal Reserve keep interest rates relatively low.

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Wal-Mart to discount online-only items delivered to stores

NEW YORK (AP) -- Starting next week, Wal-Mart will offer discounts on thousands of online-only items when customers elect to have them shipped to one of the company's stores for pickup. The move is part of the retailer's efforts to better compete with online leader Amazon. Initially, the discount will be available on about 10,000 items. But the Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer says it will then expand the price cuts to more than one million items by the end of June.

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Uber's PR head resigns amid tumultuous time for company

NEW YORK (AP) -- Uber's head of communications is leaving, the latest in a string of executive departures as the ride-hailing company tries to dig out from a pile of troubles. In a memo to employees, CEO Travis Kalanick called Rachel Whetstone a "force of nature" who was "was way ahead of the game when it came to many of the changes we needed to make as a company." Uber is facing accusations of routinely tolerated sexism and sexual harassment in the workplace, as well as troubles for Kalanick after a video surfaced showing him berating a driver. The company is hiring a chief operating officer to help him manage the company. Uber has also hired former Attorney General Eric Holder to lead an investigation into the sexism allegations.

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US budget deficit bulges in March due to calendar hitch

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The federal government ran a budget deficit in March that was sharply higher than a year ago, largely because of a hitch in the calendar. Through the first half of this budget year, the deficit is running almost 15 percent higher than the same period a year ago. The Treasury Department reported Wednesday that the deficit in March totaled $176.2 billion, compared to $108 billion in March of last year. A big part of that increase reflected $42 billion in April benefit payments that were shifted into March because April 1 fell on a Saturday this year.

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Amazon aims to help parents monitor and talk to kids

NEW YORK (AP) -- Amazon is introducing new tools to help parents see what their kids are doing on the company's Fire tablets. As a bonus, the e-commerce giant says its service will also help spark discussions about the books kids read and the videos they watch. Parents first have to sign up with Amazon's FreeTime service, a set of tools for pre-approving how much time kids spend on a tablet and what they do with it. The FreeTime service is free, as is the new dashboard tool.

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Burger King's Whopper get negative Wikipedia edits in ad gag

NEW YORK (AP) -- Burger King's latest ad stunt is resulting in some less-than-flattering descriptions of its Whopper sandwich. The hamburger chain unveiled a 15-second ad Wednesday designed to trigger Google Home devices into reciting the definition of a Whopper, pulled from the website Wikipedia. But the website can be edited by users, and the definition had been changed to insert "cyanide" as an ingredient in one version. Another user later changed the definition to say the Whopper is "the worst hamburger product" sold by the chain. Burger King, owned by Restaurant Brands International, says it is not behind the negative edits and that it has been trying to change the definition back to one that it was hoping to promote.

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Sculptor of Wall Street's bull wants 'Fearless Girl' moved

NEW YORK (AP) -- The sculptor of Wall Street's "Charging Bull" statue has demanded the removal of the "Fearless Girl" statue that's faced off against the bull since last month. Arturo Di Modica says his 11-foot-tall bull is supposed to represent "freedom in the world, peace, strength, power and love" but "Fearless Girl" has turned the work's message into something negative. Tourists have embraced "Fearless Girl" as a symbol of female empowerment.

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The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 8.85 points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,344.93.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 59.44 points, or 0.3 percent, to 20,591.86. The Nasdaq composite declined 30.61 points, or 0.5 percent, to 5,836.16.

Benchmark U.S. crude snapped a sixth-day winning streak, losing 29 cents to close at $53.11 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the standard for international oil prices, fell 37 cents to close at $55.86 a barrel in London.

In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline dipped 2 cents to $1.74 a gallon. Heating oil held steady at $1.65 a gallon. Natural gas rose 4 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $3.19 per 1,000 cubic feet.