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Business Highlights

The Associated Press


Yellen signals the Fed will likely raise rates this month

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen is signaling that the Fed will likely resume raising interest rates later this month to reflect a strengthening job market and inflation edging toward the central bank's 2 percent target rate. Yellen also said in a speech in Chicago that the Fed expects steady economic improvement to justify additional rate increases. While not specifying how many rate hikes could occur this year, Yellen noted that Fed officials in December had estimated that there would be three in 2017.


Silicon Valley high school makes $24 million from Snap IPO

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- It's an only in Silicon Valley kind of story. A well-to-do private Catholic high school makes a $15,000 investment four years ago in the company developing the Snapchat app, holds onto it for years and ends up with a windfall of $24 million. Well-connected parent Barry Eggers made it happen for the Catholic St. Francis High School by convincing the school's board to take a risk on Snap Inc. The parent company of Snapchat had a blockbuster initial public stock offering Thursday.


Nintendo Switch's big challenge: luring casual gamers

NEW YORK (AP) -- The Nintendo Switch, a hybrid game machine that works as both a console at home and a portable tablet on the go, makes its debut on Friday. For Nintendo, the Switch represents a chance to redeem itself as a console maker after being eclipsed by Microsoft and Sony. The challenge will be luring casual gamers who are satisfied with playing on a smartphone and would never have dreamed of buying a $300 game machine.


AP Source: PSA expected to announce Opel purchase on Monday

DETROIT (AP) -- French carmaker PSA Group is expected to announce Monday that it has purchased General Motors' money-losing European car business, according to a person briefed on the matter. The announcement could still be delayed by last-minute snags, the person said. GM hasn't made a full-year profit in Europe since 1999.


EPA withdraws Obama-era request for data on oil, natural gas

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Environmental Protection Agency says it's withdrawing an Obama-era request that oil and natural gas companies provide information on methane emissions at oil and gas operations. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt says the withdrawal is effective immediately, and that he wants to assess the need for the information the agency has been collecting under a directive issued in November.


Banks, health care companies lead stocks slightly higher

A late wave of buying helped nudge U.S. stock indexes slightly higher Friday after a day of mostly listless trading.

Banks and health care stocks climbed the most as investors priced in an increasing likelihood that interest rates will rise in the coming months. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen helped stoke those expectations in a speech in which she said an improving job market and rising inflation would likely prompt the central bank to increase borrowing costs.


Mercedes recalls 1M vehicles worldwide due to fire risk

DETROIT (AP) -- Mercedes is recalling about 1 million cars and SUVs worldwide because a starter part can overheat and cause fires.

The recall covers certain C-Class, E-Class and CLA cars and GLA and GLC SUVs, all from 2015 through 2017, including nearly 308,000 in the U.S. The German automaker reported 51 fires worldwide, with about 30 in the United States. The company has no reports of any injuries.


Uber deploys secret weapon against undercover regulators

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Uber has been wielding a secret weapon to thwart authorities who have been trying to curtail or shut down its ride-hailing service in cities around the world. The program included a feature nicknamed "Greyball" internally that identified regulators who were posing as riders while trying to collect evidence that Uber's service was breaking local laws governing taxis. To stymie those efforts, Uber served up a fake version of its app to make it appear the undercover regulators were summoning a car only to have the ride canceled.


US services firms expand at fastest pace since October 2015

WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. services companies expanded in February at the fastest pace since October 2015. The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group for purchasing managers, says its services index rose to 57.6 last month from 56.5 in January.


The Dow Jones industrial average added 2.74 points, or 0.01 percent, to 21,005.71. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 1.20 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,383.12. The Nasdaq composite gained 9.53 points, or 0.2 percent, to 5,870.75.

Benchmark U.S. crude gained 72 cents, or 1.4 percent, to close at $53.33 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, added 82 cents, or 1.5 percent, to close at $55.90 a barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline picked up a penny to close at $1.65 a gallon. Heating oil added a penny to close at $1.59 a gallon. Natural gas rose 2 cents to close at $2.83 per 1,000 cubic feet.