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Ni hao, y'all: US hinterlands woo Chinese firms

PINE HILL, Ala. (AP) — Burdened with Alabama's highest unemployment rate, long abandoned by textile mills and furniture plants, Wilcox County desperately needs jobs.

They're coming, and from a most unlikely place: Henan Province, China, 7,600 miles away.

Henan's Golden Dragon Precise Copper Tube Group opened a plant here last month. It will employ more than 300 in a county known less for job opportunities than for lakes filled with bass, pine forests rich with wild turkey and boar and muddy roads best negotiated in four-wheel-drive trucks.

What's happening in Pine Hill is starting to happen across America.

After decades of siphoning jobs from the United States, China is creating some. Chinese companies invested a record $14 billion in the United States last year, according to the Rhodium Group research firm. Collectively, they employ more than 70,000 Americans, up from virtually none a decade ago.

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Iraq upheaval threatens oil development plans

BAGHDAD (AP) — The turmoil in Iraq has thrown the OPEC member's ambitious plans to boost oil production into doubt, threatening to crimp its most vital economic lifeline.

Northern oil fields imperiled by the militants' advance have been shut down, and companies have begun evacuating workers elsewhere in the country. Iraq's Kurdish minority has moved to solidify control over the northern oil-rich city of Kirkuk and other disputed areas, weakening Baghdad's claims to the energy riches buried beneath while bolstering the Kurds' aspirations of greater autonomy.

The heart of Iraq's oil industry is in the mainly Shiite south, which so far has been spared this month's advance by militants led by the al-Qaida spin-off group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

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US justices rap agency, but uphold warming rules

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court largely left intact Monday the Obama administration's only existing program to limit power plant and factory emissions of the gases blamed for global warming. But a divided court also rebuked environmental regulators for taking too much authority into their own hands without congressional approval.

The justices said in a 5-4 vote along ideological lines that the Environmental Protection Agency cannot apply a permitting provision of the Clean Air Act to new and expanded power plants, refineries and factories solely because they emit greenhouse gases.

The decision underscores the limits of using the Clean Air Act to deal with greenhouse gases and the administration's inability to get climate change legislation through Congress.

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Special master appointed for Argentina debt talks

NEW YORK (AP) — A special master was appointed Monday to preside over negotiations between Argentina representatives and U.S. bondholders aimed at ending a long battle over $1.5 billion in debts.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Griesa in Manhattan appointed Daniel A. Pollack to conduct and preside over the talks. Pollack is a Harvard Law School-trained litigator with decades of experience in financial cases.

The appointment came after a lawyer for Argentina, Carmine Boccuzzi Jr., said in a letter to the judge that Argentina "wants to emerge from the litigation that has burdened both it and the courts."

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Automakers to recall air bags in humid parts of US

DETROIT (AP) — Faulty air bags — which have already led to the recall of millions of cars worldwide — are blamed for a new round of recalls in the U.S.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the government's auto safety agency, said Monday that BMW, Chrysler, Ford, Honda, Mazda, Nissan and Toyota will recall cars sold in places where hot, humid weather can potentially affect the air bags.

The older-model cars have air bag inflators that can rupture. If that happens, the air bags might not work properly in a crash, and shards from the broken system could fly out and cause injury.

The automakers all have air bag systems made by Takata Corp., a Tokyo-based supplier of seat belts, air bags, steering wheels and other auto parts.

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Stocks slip below records; FMC falls

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks fell for the first time in seven days, ending a run that had pushed the indexes to all-time highs, as investors assessed corporate news.

Chemical company FMC fell the most in the Standard & Poor's 500 index after cutting its earnings forecast for the second quarter due because its Agricultural Solutions unit performed worse than expected in the period. General Electric and Wisconsin Energy both dropped after announcing acquisitions.

The stock market has climbed steadily in the last two months amid signs that the economy has recovered its momentum after being disrupted by an unusually harsh winter. Stronger growth should translate into higher corporate profits.

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Sales of US existing homes up 4.9 per cent in May

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sales of previously owned U.S. homes posted the best monthly gain in nearly three years in May, providing hope that housing is beginning to regain momentum lost over the past year.

The National Association of Realtors reported Monday that sales of existing homes increased 4.9 per cent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.89 million homes. The monthly gain was the fastest since August 2011, but even with the increase, sales are still 5 per cent below the pace in May 2013.

Sales had been dampened by last year's rise in mortgage rates from historic lows and various other factors including tight supplies and tougher lending standards.

The median price of a home sold in May was $213,400, up 5.1 per cent from a year ago.

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White House, business back Export-Import Bank

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House and an influential pair of business organizations called for renewal of the Export-Import Bank on Monday, one day after newly elected House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California said the agency should be phased out.

The bank's existence is fast emerging as a flashpoint in the internal Republican struggle between the business-backed establishment and tea party groups.

Asked about McCarthy's comments, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the bank "helps American companies create and support jobs here at home at no cost to taxpayers" and traditionally has enjoyed bipartisan support as a result.

The bank also returned $1 billion to the Treasury in the last budget year.

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Allergan tells shareholders to reject Valeant deal

NEW YORK (AP) — Allergan, the maker of Botox, said Monday that Valeant Pharmaceuticals' hostile takeover bid for the company is "grossly inadequate" and that shareholders should reject it.

Allergan said the $53 billion bid from Valeant undervalues the company and is not in the best interest of Allergan's shareholders.

Valeant, a Canadian drugmaker, first offered to buy Irvine, California-based Allergan Inc. in April, and has increased its original bid of about $45.6 billion several times, only to be rejected. Valeant teamed up with activist investor Bill Ackman's Pershing Square Capital Management for the bid.

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Obama encouraging family-friendly work policies

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama said Monday that the United States should join the rest of the industrialized world and offer paid leave for mothers of newborns.

The president is talking about paid maternity in the midst of a midterm election campaign focused on women voters, raising questions about how he would fund such a system. "If France can figure this out, we can figure this out," Obama said.

While some companies offer paid family leave to attract workers, the 1993 Family Medical Leave Act only requires that employers provide unpaid leave for medical and family reasons.

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Wisconsin Energy buying Integrys for $5.8 billion

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Wisconsin Energy Corp. is buying Integrys Energy Group Inc. for about $5.8 billion in cash and stock to form a more diverse Midwest electric and natural gas delivery company.

The combined company will be called WEC Energy Group Inc. and serve more than 4.3 million total gas and electric customers across Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan and Minnesota.

The transaction will combine Wisconsin Energy's electric and gas utility, We Energies, with Integrys' electric and gas utilities, Wisconsin Public Service, Peoples Gas, North Shore Gas, Minnesota Energy Resources and Michigan Gas Utilities.

WEC Energy will hold a 60 per cent stake in American Transmission Co.

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones Industrial average dropped 9.82 points, less than 0.1 per cent, to 16,937.26. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 0.26 of a point, less than 0.1 per cent, to close at 1,962.61. The Nasdaq composite index rose 0.64 of a point to 4,368.68.

Benchmark U.S. crude for August delivery dropped 66 cents to $106.17 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 69 cents to $114.12 a barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline slipped 2 cents to $3.11 a gallon. Natural gas dropped 9 cents to $4.45 per 1,000 cubic feet. Heating oil fell 2 cents to $3.03 a gallon.

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