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Associated Press

Posted on March 26, 2014 at 5:01 PM

Updated Wednesday, Mar 26 at 5:02 PM

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Visionary or looney? Zuckerberg on spending spree

NEW YORK (AP) — Facebook's two biggest acquisitions yet are raising some eyebrows.

One analyst wonders whether Mark Zuckerberg "is nuts" for agreeing to pay $2 billion for virtual reality company Oculus less than five weeks after inking a deal to buy WhatsApp for $19 billion. Other observers are calling the Facebook CEO visionary.

The company's latest purchase doesn't have a consumer product on the market yet, but Zuckerberg sees long-term implications for Oculus' technology.

Facebook's investors seemed to think Oculus' promise is too far off. The social networking company's stock fell 7 percent on Wednesday to close at $60.38.

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College athletes can unionize, federal agency says

CHICAGO (AP) — In a stunning ruling that could revolutionize college sports, a federal agency said Wednesday that football players at Northwestern University can create the nation's first union of college athletes.

The decision by a regional director of the National Labor Relations Board means it agrees football players at the Big Ten school qualify as employees under federal law and therefore can legally unionize.

An employee is generally regarded by law as someone who receives compensation for a service and is under the direct control of managers. Players argued that their scholarships are compensation and coaches are their managers.

The Evanston, Ill.-based university plans to appeal to labor authorities in Washington, D.C.

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Fed blocks 5 banks from raising dividends

The Federal Reserve is barring Citigroup and four other big banks from increasing their dividends or buying back their own stock because they need better plans for coping with a severe recession.

The announcement Wednesday follows last week's results of the Fed's annual "stress tests." The central bank determined that the U.S. banking industry is better able to withstand a major economic downturn than at any time since the financial crisis struck in 2008.

Besides Citigroup, the Fed also ruled against dividend increases or share repurchases at HSBC North America Holdings Inc., RBS Citizens Financial Group Inc., Santander Holdings USA Inc. and Zions Bancorp.

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Young workers change jobs frequently, study shows

WASHINGTON (AP) — Young adults born in the early 1980s held an average of just over six jobs each from ages 18 through 26, a Labor Department survey showed Wednesday.

Since 1997, the department's Bureau of Labor Statistics has been keeping tabs on about 9,000 young men and women born in the early 1980s, surveying their educational and workplace progress. The latest survey is from interviews conducted in 2011-2012.

According to the survey, more than two-thirds of the jobs held by high-school dropouts lasted less than a year.

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Women: J&J trashed records in product injury suits

WASHINGTON (AP) — Lawyers and advocates for women alleging Johnson & Johnson products injured them are urging the U.S. Justice Department to investigate their claims the health care giant deliberately destroyed many documents critical to the lawsuits.

Corporate Action Network, a nonprofit group seeking to hold businesses accountable for their actions, says a federal judge recently concluded J&J destroyed thousands of documents regarding development of J&J's pelvic mesh implants, used to boost sagging internal organs. Some 22,000 women suing J&J blame implants for crippling pain, infections and bleeding.

J&J says it's provided millions of documents in those lawsuits and hasn't intentionally destroyed any.

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Murdoch companies name son Lachlan co-chairman

NEW YORK (AP) — Rupert Murdoch's son Lachlan will become nonexecutive co-chairman of both 21st Century Fox and News Corp., two companies controlled by the father.

Murdoch's other son, James, also is being named co-chief operating officer of 21st Century Fox, a TV and movie company that was separated from the publishing company News Corp. last June.

Rupert Murdoch is chairman and CEO of 21st Century Fox and executive chairman of News Corp. The 42-year-old Lachlan Murdoch and 41-year-old James serve as directors of News Corp. and 21st Century Fox.

21st Century Fox also says that Fox Networks Group Chairman and CEO Peter Rice is extending his employment agreement.

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Nissan recalls more than 1M vehicles for air bags

DETROIT (AP) — Nissan is recalling just over 1 million cars, SUVs and vans because the front passenger air bags may not inflate in a crash. It's the company's second recall to fix the same problem.

The recall affects the Altima midsize car, Leaf electric car, Pathfinder SUV and Sentra compact models from the 2013 and 2014 model years, as well as the NV200 Taxi van and Infiniti JX35 SUV from 2013. Also covered are the Infiniti QX60 and Q50 SUVs from 2014.

In documents filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Nissan says the vehicles' computer software may not detect an adult in the passenger seat. If that happens, the air bags won't inflate.

Nissan will notify owners and dealers will update the software for free. The recall is expected to start in mid-April.

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Levi Strauss to eliminate about 800 jobs

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Levi Strauss & Co. will eliminate about 800 jobs, almost 20 percent of its non-retail and non-manufacturing employees, over the next 12 to 18 months.

The privately held company said that its restructuring plan will help it become more competitive, lower costs and improve its financial health.

Levi Strauss said Wednesday that the cuts will primarily be management positions across the world. It is also getting rid of what it considers duplicate roles. The company, which also makes the Dockers and Denizen brands, said that final plans will vary by country, and estimates for headcount and the timing of the job cuts may change.

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'Candy Crush' maker's stock falls in public debut

A crush it isn't.

Wall Street is giving King Digital, the company behind the popular mobile game "Candy Crush Saga," the cold shoulder in its public trading debut.

King's stock priced at $22.50 on Tuesday, valuing the company at $7.1 billion. But it opened on Wednesday at $20.50, down almost 9 percent. Its shares lost more ground by the day's close, falling more than 15 percent.

King Digital Entertainment PLC had $1.88 billion in revenue last year. That's more than 10 times its 2012 revenue of $164.4 million.

But some analysts have questioned whether King would be able to repeat the success of "Candy Crush," which has been far more successful than any of its other games. Its other top games include "Pet Rescue Saga" and "Farm Heroes Saga."

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Ryanair seeks more love, less hate from customers

LONDON (AP) — Ryanair last year carried more than 81 million people to 186 destinations, bigger than any European rival. It's positioned to record fiscal 2014 net profits above 500 million euros ($690 million).

The only thing that could hold the company back is its wretched reputation for customer service. But under a plan unveiled Wednesday by Michael O'Leary, Ryanair's legendarily rude boss, the company has decided to change in order to keep up its industry-leading growth rate.

Ryanair says it can no longer be seen as merely the cheapest option for travelers. It must become comfortable, easy, maybe even enjoyable to use.

Customers have reason to skeptical after years of poor customer service. Even its CEO says the company has been "needlessly irritating people" for decades.

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 98.89 points, or 0.6 percent, to 16,268.99. The S&P 500 fell 13.06 points, or 0.7 percent, to 1,852.56. The Nasdaq composite fell more than the other indexes, giving up 60.69 points, or 1.4 percent, to 4,173.58.

Benchmark U.S. crude for May delivery gained $1.07 to $100.26 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Wholesale gasoline gained 3 cents to $2.91 a gallon. Heating oil was flat at $2.92 a gallon. Natural gas fell 1 cent to $4.40 per 1,000 cubic feet. Brent crude, a contract for international varieties of oil, added 4 cents to $107.03 on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

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