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May 16, 2014 02:54 PM

Friday Afternoon Business Brief

NEW YORK (AP) - Stocks are edging lower in afternoon trading on Wall Street. After taking a hard hit in the middle of the week, the major indexes are on track to end it with a slight loss.

  • Unemployment rates fell in nearly all U.S. states last month, and half the states now have rates below 6 percent. The Labor Department says jobless rates fell in 43 states, rose in two states and were unchanged in five. Hiring is picking up as well. Employers added jobs in 39 states in April, while 10 states posted job losses. Nebraska reported no change.
  • Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx says "silence can kill," literally -- and that's why government safety regulators have fined General Motors $35 million. Foxx says GM broke the law by waiting too long to take action on a problem with ignition switches linked to at least 13 deaths. The penalty is the maximum that the government can impose and it's the first time an automaker has been fined that much. But the amount is less than a day's revenue for GM.
  • The company buying the assets of a railroad responsible for a fiery oil train derailment that claimed 47 lives in Quebec plans to resume oil shipments after track safety improvements are made. The president and CEO of Central Maine and Quebec Railway says the company plans to spend $10 million on rail improvements in Canada over the next two years with a goal of resuming oil shipments in 18 months.
  • Pfizer says the Food and Drug Administration will let it apply for approval of its heavily touted experimental breast cancer medicine based on mid-stage patient testing results. That means the drug maker won't need bigger, very expensive, late-stage patient studies for palbociclib to be approved.
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