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Originally published Tuesday, April 9, 2013 at 2:49 PM

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Business Highlights

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The Associated Press

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US companies are posting more jobs but filling few

WASHINGTON (AP) - U.S employers have more job openings than at any other time in nearly five years. Yet they seem in no hurry to fill them.

That disparity helps explain why the job market remains tight and unemployment high. Even as openings have surged 11 percent in the past year, the number of people hired has declined.

Why so many openings yet so few hires?

Economists point to several factors: Some unemployed workers lack the skills employers want. Some companies may not be offering enough pay. And staffing firms say that in a still-fragile economy, many businesses seem hesitant to commit to new hires. They appear to be holding out for the perfect candidate.

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Penney CEO's challenge: Is it even fixable?

NEW YORK (AP) - There won't be an easy fix for J.C. Penney - if it is even fixable.

As Mike Ullman takes the reins again less than two years after his departure, he faces the Herculean task of undoing the mess left by his predecessor, Ron Johnson, who was ousted Monday. With the department store chain in the middle of a disastrous overhaul that has driven away shoppers, the 66-year-old Ullman has to quickly figure out what parts of Johnson's legacy to keep and what to trash.

The overarching question is whether the century-old retailer can be saved at all. Very few retailers have recovered from sales declines of 25 percent in the single year that Penney suffered under Johnson's watch. On Tuesday Penney shares dropped more than 12 percent to a 12-year-low of $13.93 as investors' worries grew about the company's future.

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Microsoft assault on Google shows industry shift

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Microsoft is skewering Google again with ads and regulatory bashing that say as much about the dramatic shift in the technology industry's competitive landscape as they do about the animosity between the two rivals.

The ads that began Tuesday mark the third phase in a 5-month-old marketing campaign that Microsoft Corp. derisively calls "Scroogled." The ads, which have appeared online, on television and in print, depict Google as a duplicitous company more interested in increasing profits and power than protecting people's privacy and providing unbiased search results.

Microsoft is vilifying Google Inc. for sharing some of the personal information it gathers about people who buy applications designed to run on smartphones and tablet computers powered by Google's Android software. Earlier ads have ripped Google's long-running practice of electronically scanning the contents of people's Gmail accounts to help sell ads. Other ads attacked a recently introduced policy that requires retailers to pay to appear in the shopping section of Google's dominant search engine.

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North Korea urges foreigners to leave South Korea

PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) - North Korea on Tuesday urged foreign companies and tourists in South Korea to evacuate, saying the two countries are on the verge of a nuclear war. The new warning appeared to be an attempt to scare foreigners into urging their governments to pressure Washington and Seoul to avert a conflict.

Analysts see a direct attack on Seoul as extremely unlikely, and there are no overt signs that North Korea's army is readying for war, let alone a nuclear one.

Despite the warnings of impending war, there was no sense of panic in North Korea's capital, Pyongyang, on Tuesday.

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US wholesale stockpiles fell 0.3 percent in February

WASHINGTON (AP) - U.S. wholesalers cut their restocking in February by the most in 17 months. But their sales jumped, suggesting companies underestimated consumer demand.

The Commerce Department said Tuesday that stockpiles at the wholesale level declined 0.3 percent in February. That followed a 0.8 percent increase in January, which was revised lower.

The decline was the first in eight months and the biggest since September 2011. Farm products and gasoline led the drop. Agriculture stockpiles have fallen in recent months because of a drought in the Midwest.

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US banks to send checks in foreclosure settlement

WASHINGTON (AP) - The nation's largest banks will begin sending payments this week to millions of Americans who may have been wrongfully foreclosed during the housing crisis.

A total of $3.6 billion in cash will be distributed to 4.2 million borrowers who lost their homes or were at risk of foreclosure, the Federal Reserve and the Comptroller of the Currency said Tuesday. Payments will range from $300 to $125,000. About 90 percent of borrowers whose mortgages were serviced by 11 of the banks will receive payments by the end of April, the agencies said.

The last group of payments is expected in mid-July.

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Ford says Focus is best-selling car in the world

DETROIT (AP) - Ford Motor Co. says its Focus small car was the best-selling vehicle nameplate in the world last year, with just over 1 million sold.

More than a quarter of all Focuses were sold in China, its largest market. The U.S. was the second-largest market.

It was the second year in a row the Focus has outsold the Toyota Corolla, according to data from automotive firm R.L. Polk. Rounding out the top five sellers were Ford's F-Series pickup, the Wuling Zhiguang minivan and the Toyota Camry midsize car.

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KPMG resigns as auditor for Herbalife, Skechers

NEW YORK (AP) - Accounting firm KPMG has resigned as the auditor for dietary supplements maker Herbalife and shoe retailer Skechers after a KPMG partner allegedly leaked information about the companies to someone who then used the information to trade stocks.

KPMG said it has fired the partner and has no reason to believe there were any problems with the financial reports of Herbalife or Skechers.

Still, the development is a headache for the companies. KPMG withdrew its recent audit reports of both companies, because it felt its own independence had been compromised.

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GM returning to Facebook with Chevrolet Sonic ads

DETROIT (AP) - General Motors is returning to Facebook.

The automaker pulled its ads from the social media giant in May, just days before Facebook's initial public offering. GM said the ads weren't effective and didn't justify the $10 million per year it was spending.

But on Tuesday, Chevrolet U.S. marketing chief Chris Perry said GM is introducing mobile-only Facebook ads for the Chevrolet Sonic subcompact car.

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Austin, Texas, next city for ultra-fast Google Fiber

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Google Inc. picked tech-savvy Austin, Texas, on Tuesday as the next city where the search giant will wire homes with ultra-fast Internet connections, but it did not say how much customers will pay or when the fiber-optic experiment might expand elsewhere in the U.S.

Austin and Kansas City, Mo., are the only places to get Google Fiber - a broadband service that is an alternative to cable or satellite TV providers.

The rollout is an expensive undertaking and gamble for Google, which must first build costly new broadband pipelines that can handle "gigabit" speeds. Google hopes the rollout will drive innovation and pressure phone and cable companies to improve its networks, since Google benefits when people spend more time online.

Google expects Austin homes to begin receiving Google Fiber in mid-2014.

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By The Associated Press(equals)

The Dow Jones industrial average closed at 14,673.46, a gain of 59.98 points, or 0.4 percent. The Standard & Poor's 500 index also rose 0.4 percent. The Nasdaq composite gained 15.61 points, or 0.5 percent, to 3,237.86.

Benchmark oil for May delivery gained 84 cents to finish at $94.20 a barrel. Brent crude, which sets the price of oil used by many U.S. refineries to make gasoline, on Tuesday rose $1.38 to end at $106.15 per barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

Wholesale gasoline rose 3 cents to finish at $2.94 per gallon. Natural gas fell 7 cents to end at $4.02 per 1,000 cubic feet. Heating oil rose 1 cent to finish at $2.96 per gallon.

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