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Originally published Monday, April 8, 2013 at 3:13 PM

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Business Highlights

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The Associated Press

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JC Penney ousts CEO Ron Johnson

NEW YORK (AP) - J.C. Penney is ousting CEO Ron Johnson. He's being replaced by former CEO Mike Ullman.

Ullman was head of the department store chain, based in Plano, Texas, prior to Johnson's appointment to the top spot in 2011 in an effort to halt the company's sliding earnings.

Johnson came under pressure after his turnaround strategy failed to win over shoppers. His drastic changes included slashing the number of sales in favor of everyday low prices, bringing in hipper designer brands such as Betsy Johnson and remaking outdated stores.

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Report: Virgin America best US airline in 2012

WASHINGTON (AP) - Virgin America did the best job for its customers among leading U.S. airlines last year, a report said Monday, as carriers overall had their second best performance in the more than the two decades since researchers began measuring quality of service.

The report from Wichita State University in Kansas and the University of Nebraska at Omaha ranked the 14 largest U.S. airlines based on on-time arrivals, mishandled bags, consumer complaints and passengers who bought tickets but were turned away because flights were overbooked.

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Margaret Thatcher dead at 87

LONDON (AP) - Margaret Thatcher transformed the British economy over little more than a decade in office. She introduced free-market policies that helped the country throw off its postwar malaise and shook up the cozy world of banks and brokers with a flurry of deregulation - which came to be known as the "Big Bang" - that made London one of the world's pre-eminent financial centers.

But while Thatcher ushered in an era of unprecedented economic growth, her legacy on economic issues remains divisive. Some argue her policies also sowed the seeds for the 2008 financial crisis. Meanwhile, the economy is on the verge of another recession and she is still reviled by unions who say she ignored the needs of workers and the poor.

Thatcher died Monday following a stroke. She was 87.

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Alcoa's 1Q profit rises, beats expectations

NEW YORK (AP) - Alcoa Inc. kicked off earnings season Monday by reporting a larger first-quarter profit than analysts expected, helped by strong demand for aluminum used to make airplanes and automobiles.

The company still sees demand for aluminum growing 7 percent in 2013, with gains cutting across many industries.

Alcoa is the first company in the Dow Jones industrial average to report first-quarter results. Because its products wind up in so many things, from cars and buildings to soda cans, investors study Alcoa's results for hints about earnings at companies in other industries.

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GE to buy Lufkin Industries for $3.1 billion

NEW YORK (AP) - General Electric Co. has agreed to buy oilfield equipment maker Lufkin Industries Inc. for $3.1 billion, furthering an effort by GE to grow its oil and gas operations.

GE said Monday that it would pay Lufkin shareholders $88.50 per share, a 38 percent premium over Lufkin's closing price on Friday of $63.93.

The companies valued the deal at $3.3 billion, which includes $200 million in debt to be assumed by GE.

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Senate confirms White to head SEC

WASHINGTON (AP) - The U.S. Senate has confirmed Mary Jo White's nomination as chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, making her the first former prosecutor to lead the federal agency that oversees Wall Street.

White was approved Monday by a Senate voice vote. She will replace Elisse Walter, who has been interim SEC chairman since Mary Schapiro resigned in December.

President Barack Obama nominated White, who served as U.S. attorney in Manhattan from 1993 through 2002.

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Avon eliminating hundreds of jobs; leaves Ireland

NEW YORK (AP) - Avon is eliminating more than 400 positions and abandoning or restructuring smaller or underperforming businesses in Africa, the Middle East and Europe, including an exit from Ireland.

The company said Monday that the job cuts, which equate to about 1 percent of Avon's 39,100 employees, will occur across all regions and segments. It is part of a turnaround plan under CEO Sheri McCoy, with the goal of achieving mid-single digit percentage revenue growth and $400 million in cost savings by 2016.

Avon expects to complete almost all the cuts before year's end.

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Executive threatens to pull Fox signal if Aereo goes on

LAS VEGAS (AP) - A top executive with the owner of the Fox broadcast network threatened Monday to convert the network to a subscription channel on cable or satellite TV if Internet startup Aereo Inc. continues to "steal" Fox's over-the-air signal and sell it to consumers without paying for rights.

Although anyone with an antenna can pick up a station's signals for free, cable and satellite companies typically pay stations and networks for the right to distribute their programming to subscribers. Industrywide those retransmission fees add up to billions of dollars every year. Aereo says it's not subject to those fees.

News Corp. Chief Operating Officer Chase Carey said that not being paid by Aereo jeopardizes the economics of broadcast TV, which benefits from both retransmission fees and advertising.

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Newspaper revenue fell 2 percent to $38.6 billion in 2012

ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) - The newspaper industry's revenue declined at its slowest pace in six years, as publishers turned to new businesses and raised more money from online subscriptions.

The industry's total revenue in 2012 fell 2 percent to $38.6 billion from $39.5 billion in 2011, according to the Newspaper Association of America.

Online subscriptions helped circulation revenue rise by 5 percent to $10.4 billion. It was the first gain since 2003.

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US Treasury chief urges EU to ease off austerity

BRUSSELS (AP) - European countries should ease off their austerity and adopt more growth-friendly policies, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said Monday as he kicked off a series of meetings with the region's top leaders.

America's biggest trading partner and the world's largest economic bloc has entered the fourth year of a debt crisis, which has plunged many of the 27 EU nations into recession. The U.S. administration hopes Europe will relent in its focus on debt reduction, which has been hurting growth through spending cuts and tax increases.

Lew, who became treasury secretary in February, started his first official trip to Europe with a meeting with EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso. He also met the EU's top economic and monetary official, Commissioner Olli Rehn, and EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy.

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By The Associated Press(equals)

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 48.23 points, or 0.3 percent, to close at 14,613.48. The S&P 500 index closed up 9.79 points, or 0.6 percent, at 1,563.07. The Nasdaq composite index rose 18.39 points, or 0.6 percent, to 3,222.25.

Benchmark oil for May delivery rose 66 cents to finish at $93.36 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, which sets the price of oil used by many U.S. refineries to make gasoline, rose 54 cents to end at $104.66 per barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

Heating oil rose 4 cents to finish at $2.95 per gallon. Wholesale gasoline rose 5 cents to end at $2.91 per gallon. Natural gas fell 4 cents to end at $4.08 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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