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Business Highlights

By The Associated Press

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US airlines to halt Northeast flights

Most airlines were giving up on flying in and out of New York, Boston and other cities in the Northeast Friday as a massive storm threatened to dump snow by the foot on the region.

Airlines were generally shutting down operations in the afternoon at the three big New York-area airports as well as Boston, Providence, Portland, Maine, and other Northeastern airports. They're hoping to resume flights on Saturday.

Flight-tracking website FlightAware said airlines have canceled more than 4,200 flights on Friday and Saturday in advance of the storm.

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US growth in 4Q likely stronger on export gains

WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ A jump in energy-related exports and a steep decline in oil imports lowered the U.S. trade deficit in December to nearly a three-year low.

The improvement suggests the economy grew in the October-December quarter instead of shrinking as the government estimated last week.

A brighter outlook for trade also illustrates how a boom in oil and gas production is reducing crude oil imports and making the U.S. a leader in the export of fuels. And it shows that higher domestic sales of fuel-efficient cars are lowering dependence on oil.

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EU leaders agree to $1.28 trillion 7-year budget

BRUSSELS (AP) ⿿ European Union leaders agreed Friday to a significantly reduced 7-year budget worth ⿬960 billion ($1.28 trillion) ⿿ the first cut in spending in the 27-country group's history.

European Council President Herman Van Rompuy announced that the agreement had been reached after two days of nearly round-the-clock negotiations â¿¿ the longest negotiations of his tenure in office. The final total was about 40 billion less than the European Commission had originally proposed.

The issue of what to give to the EU was made more difficult because, he said, its members were struggling with poor economic growth and harsh austerity measures.

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