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AP Financial News Summary at 3:35 a.m. EDT

April 17, 2006

Crude Oil Price Hits $70 a Barrel in Asia

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SINGAPORE (AP) _ Crude oil futures hit $70 a barrel for the first time in seven-and-a-half months Monday, lifted by concerns over declining gasoline stocks in the U.S., supply disruptions in Nigeria and tension over Iran’s nuclear program.

Canada Confirms New Case of Mad Cow

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TORONTO (AP) _ Canada confirmed a case of mad cow disease on Sunday at a farm in British Columbia _ the country’s fifth case since May 2003, when the United States closed its border to Canadian beef.

Crash Tests Show Benefit of Side Air Bags

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WASHINGTON (AP) _ For motorists seeking greater protection in crashes, test results released Sunday by the insurance industry show the benefits of paying for optional side air bags.

Japanese Stocks Down at Midday

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TOKYO (AP) _ Japanese stocks fell by midday Monday, with trading volume lower than usual due to the Easter holiday absence of foreign investors. The dollar dropped against the yen.

Obesity Finds Niche in American Marketing

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NEW YORK (AP) _ From the cradle to the grave and most points between, obesity has found its niche in American marketing. Make that a wide berth. Baby seats, doorways and caskets are but a few examples from a long list of life’s accouterments that are getting much bigger to accommodate much bigger people. There are also vacation resorts for those embarrassed to be seen in a bathing suit.

Skilling Cross-Examination to Begin Monday

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HOUSTON (AP) _ Former Enron Corp. Chief Executive Jeffrey Skilling has logged four days on the witness stand in his fraud and conspiracy trial hoping to convince jurors that he’s innocent and that his former company was not rife with corruption. But his testimony so far came under questioning from his lead lawyer, Daniel Petrocelli. The questioning aimed to solicit his side of the story rather than challenge him.

Wal-Mart Tries to Modify Corporate Culture

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NEW YORK (AP) _ After years of accusations that it caused the demise of thousands of smaller merchants, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is undertaking an unusual strategy: helping competing local establishments stay in business.

Web Merchants Fighting Costs of Fraud

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BETHLEHEM, Pa. (AP) _ Talk about buyer’s remorse: A man who had purchased a $4,500 custom-made engagement ring over the Internet abruptly called off the wedding just days before the big day _ then called his credit card company to get his money back.

Whole Foods Impresses Customers, Investors

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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) _ Without a hint of pretense, John Mackey recently said this to shareholders of his company, Whole Foods Market Inc.: ``There aren’t many big corporations that we look at and say we want to be like that when we grow up. I think we are grown up, frankly.″

With Booming Economy, China Cuts Spending

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BEIJING (AP) _ Chinese leaders who say its booming economy is growing too fast want to cut spending on energy-guzzling factories and other wasteful projects, rather than slow its overall expansion, economists said Monday.

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