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Employers added most jobs in 3 years in March

WASHINGTON (AP) ¿ The nation's economy posted its largest job gain in three years in March, while the unemployment rate remained at 9.7 percent for the third straight month.

The increase in payrolls is the latest sign that the economic recovery is gaining momentum and healing in the job market is beginning. Still, the healing is likely to be slow, and most economists don't expect new hiring to be fast enough this year to rapidly reduce the unemployment rate.

The Labor Department said employers added 162,000 jobs in March, the most since the recession began but below analysts' expectations of 190,000. The total includes 48,000 temporary workers hired for the U.S. Census, also fewer than many economists forecast.

Private employers added 123,000 jobs, the most since May 2007.

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4 dead, 3 hurt in blast, fire at Wash. refinery

ANACORTES, Wash. (AP) ¿ An explosion and fire at a Washington state oil refinery shook homes and shot flames into the night sky early Friday, killing four people and critically injuring three others.

The fire struck the Tesoro Corp. refinery in Anacortes, about 70 miles north of Seattle on Puget Sound, at about 12:30 a.m., the company said. The blaze occurred while maintenance work was being performed and was extinguished in about 90 minutes.

Three people died at the scene. They were 31-year-old Matthew C. Bowen of Arlington; 43-year-old Darrin J. Hoines of Ferndale; and 50-year-old Daniel J. Aldridge of Anacortes.

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Biggest job gain in 3 years pushes up interest rates

NEW YORK (AP) ¿ The biggest increase in jobs in three years pushed interest rates to their highest level since before the worst days of the credit crisis in 2008.

With the stock market closed for Good Friday, investors had a shortened day of trading in the bond market to react to the Labor Department's report that employers added the most jobs in March since before the recession began in December 2007.

Treasury prices fell after the report, sending their yields higher. Bond prices tend to fall as investors' confidence grows and demand for safe-haven investments wanes.

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Feds: Homes with Chinese drywall must be gutted

NEW ORLEANS (AP) ¿ Thousands of U.S. homes tainted by Chinese drywall should be gutted, according to new guidelines released Friday by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The guidelines say electrical wiring, outlets, circuit breakers, fire alarm systems, carbon monoxide alarms, fire sprinklers, gas pipes and drywall need to be removed.

About 3,000 homeowners, mostly in Florida, Virginia, Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana, have reported problems with the Chinese-made drywall, which was imported in large quantities during the housing boom and after a string of Gulf Coast hurricanes.

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Changes to federal foreclosure program announced

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) ¿ The federal government announced Friday that it is relaxing some rules to make it easier for communities to spend funds on redeveloping abandoned and foreclosed properties.

The changes, effective immediately, will allow cities, counties and states to buy properties in mortgage default and uninhabitable homes with lingering code violations through the $4 billion Neighborhood Stabilization Program.

The program was started in the midst of the nation's foreclosure crisis, but a year later about a third of more than 300 local governments that got grants have barely made a dent in them, according to a recent report from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

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GM, Hartford repay $4.4b of bailout money

WASHINGTON (AP) ¿ The Treasury Department says automaker General Motors Co. and insurer Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. have repaid billions of bailout dollars.

Treasury says GM repaid $1 billion of $6.7 billion in loans it received as part of a $50 billion rescue. Hartford repaid its entire $3.4 billion bailout.

The money came from a $700 billion bailout that Congress passed in October 2008 amid the worst financial crisis in generations.

The payments mean Treasury has been repaid $181 billion of the money it disbursed. Both repayments were announced by the companies earlier this week.

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Ban lifted: Pilots can take antidepressants on job

WASHINGTON (AP) ¿ The government is lifting a 70-year-old ban on letting pilots fly while on antidepressants, citing improvements in the drugs and an unforeseen side effect of the restriction: Depressed pilots kept flying but just kept their conditions secret.

The change in policy, which includes a degree of amnesty for pilots who lied about their diagnosis and treatment on medical certification forms, is aimed in part at clueing the government in on how many pilots suffer from a disease whose symptoms can include thoughts of suicide, FAA officials said.

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Govt to help get coverage for uninsured

WASHINGTON (AP) ¿ The Obama administration sought Friday to show voters concrete benefits from the new health care law, taking steps to provide insurance coverage to people with pre-existing health conditions.

The law the president signed March 23 requires creation within 90 days of buying pools to target uninsured people who can't get coverage because of health conditions. Five billion dollars is being spent on the program, which will remain in place until the sweeping health law is fully implemented in 2014, when insurance companies will have to take all comers.

The program will build on buying pools that already exist in some states. The federal government will let states take the lead in setting up new pools or will administer them in states that don't want to participate on their own. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius wrote to states Friday asking them to report back by the end of April on how they want to proceed.

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US companies criticize Chinese market obstacles

BEIJING (AP) ¿ Foreign companies say China is increasingly using discriminatory rules to reduce access to previously open areas of its economy and promote its technology industries, a U.S. business group said Friday, adding to rising complaints of worsening conditions for foreign investors.

The report by the American Chamber of Commerce in China comes as companies say Beijing is violating the spirit of market-opening commitments by trying to reserve segments of its economy for domestic companies in an effort to build up Chinese global competitors.

The chamber highlighted complaints about efforts to nurture China's computer and other technology companies ¿ a policy dubbed "indigenous innovation" ¿ by favoring them in government procurement and other areas.

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Sharp shows 3-D displays for mobile devices

TOKYO (AP) ¿ Sharp's latest 3-D displays deliver bright, clear imagery without the cumbersome glasses usually required for such technology. Now the bad news: They only work on a 3-inch (7.5-centimeter) screen held one foot (30 centimeters) from the viewer's face.

Sharp Corp. demonstrated liquid crystal screens Friday for mobile devices that showed 3-D animation, touch-panel screens that switched from one 3-D photo to another and a display connected to a 3-D video camera.

Movies and TVs in 3-D are no longer surprising. Sony Corp. and Panasonic Corp. of Japan, as well as South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co. and LG Electronics, already sell or are planning 3-D TVs.

The drawback until now has been the need for special glasses, which show different images to the right eye and the left eye. Sharp's 3-D technology doesn't require them because the displays are designed to shoot different images to each eye.

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EBay makes a big play for fashion

NEW YORK (AP) ¿ EBay Inc. may be the biggest online clothing seller, but it's still known for selling other people's castoffs. Now it wants shoppers to think of it when looking for trendy duds like hipster jeans and red ballerina flats.

EBay will launch a new fashion microsite Monday. It's the latest in a series of changes that will sometimes have it acting more like an outlet mall or "private sale" Web site.

EBay is working with major fashion brands and retailers such as Hugo Boss and Lord & Taylor to act as sellers. The new microsite, fashion.ebay.com, will bring together several new ways of selling.

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