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Business Highlights

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Panera trying new pay-what-you-want experiment

ST. LOUIS (AP) â¿¿ Order a bowl of turkey chili at a St. Louis-area Panera Bread cafe and it'll cost you a penny. Or $5. Or $100. In other words, whatever you decide.

Three years after launching the first of five pay-what-you-want cafes, the suburban St. Louis-based chain on Wednesday quietly began its latest charitable venture that takes the concept on a trial run to all 48 cafes in the St. Louis region.

The new idea experiments with a single menu item, Turkey Chili in a Bread Bowl, available at each St. Louis-area store for whatever the customer chooses to pay. The new chili uses all-natural, antibiotic-free turkey mixed with vegetables and beans in a sourdough bread bowl. The suggested $5.89 price (tax included) is only a guideline. All other menu items are sold for the posted price.

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Signed contracts to buy US homes dips slightly

WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ Fewer Americans signed contracts to buy homes in February, but the level stayed near a three-year high, and analysts believe sales of previously occupied homes will keep rising in the coming months.

The National Association of Realtors said Wednesday that its seasonally adjusted index for pending home sales dipped to 104.8 in February. That's down from January's reading of 105.2 â¿¿ the highest since April 2010, when a homebuyer's tax credit was boosting sales.

Signed contracts are 8.4 percent higher than a year ago.

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BRICS plan development bank to fund infrastructure

DURBAN, South Africa (AP) â¿¿ Leaders of five of the world's emerging economic powers agreed Wednesday to create a development bank to help fund their $4.5 trillion infrastructure plans â¿¿ a direct challenge to the World Bank that they accuse of Western bias.

But the rulers of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa â¿¿known as the BRICS group â¿¿were unable to agree on some basic issues including how much capital the bank would need.

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