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Business Highlights

By The Associated Press

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Buffett dips into ketchup business, buys Heinz

NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ Billionaire Warren Buffett, the most closely watched investor in America, is putting his money in ketchup, agreeing to buy H.J. Heinz Co. for $23.3 billion in the richest deal ever in the food industry.

For his money, the Oracle of Omaha gets one of the nation's oldest and most familiar brands, one that's in refrigerators and kitchen cupboards all over the U.S.

The deal is intended to help Heinz accelerate its expansion from a dominant American name into a presence on grocery shelves worldwide. The Pittsburgh-based company also makes Classico pasta sauces and Ore-Ida potatoes, as well as a growing stable of sauces suited to regional tastes around the world.

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American, US Airways announce $11 billion merger

DALLAS (AP) â¿¿ US Airways CEO Doug Parker has landed the big merger he sought for years. Now the soon-to-be CEO of the new American Airlines has to make it work.

Planes need painting. Frequent flier programs have to be combined. And the new airline will still be weak in Asia and need to win back business travelers who have been drifting away to other airlines.

The two airlines announced an $11 billion merger Thursday that will create the world's biggest airline, with some 6,700 daily flights and annual revenue of roughly $40 billion. It's a coup for Parker, who runs the much smaller US Airways and has long pursued a deal like this one with the strong belief that airlines will have a better shot at consistent profits if they bulk up through mergers.

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Sharp fall in US jobless claims boosts outlook

WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ The outlook for the U.S. job market is brightening after a government report showed a sharp drop in the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits.

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