Global Glance: House panel OKs health bill; European Central Bank keeps stimulus on track to aid economy

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Here are today’s top business headlines from across the nation and world:

House panel OKs health bill, industry groups say ‘no’

WASHINGTON (AP) – House Republicans scored a pre-dawn triumph Thursday in their effort to scuttle former President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, but it masked deeper problems as hospitals, doctors and consumer groups mounted intensifying opposition to the GOP health care drive. After nearly 18 hours of debate and over two dozen party-line votes, Republicans pushed legislation through the Ways and Means Committee abolishing the tax penalty Obama’s statute imposes on people who don’t purchase insurance and reshaping how millions of Americans buy medical care. It was a victory of high symbolism because Obama’s so-called individual mandate is perhaps the part of the statute that Republicans most detest. Read more

European Central Bank keeps stimulus on track to aid economy

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — The European Central Bank has decided to keep its stimulus programs unchanged, leaving President Mario Draghi with the job of explaining at his news conference why he is pressing on with the measures when inflation has reached the bank’s target. Draghi argues that the recent rise in the annual inflation rate to 2 percent — past the ECB’s target of just under 2 percent — comes from higher oil prices, and not from fundamental improvements in the economy such as higher wages for workers. Excluding volatile prices for fuel and oil, inflation remains stuck at 0.9 percent. Read more

Reports conflict on Kansas governor receiving ag job in Rome

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — There were conflicting reports Wednesday about the possibility of Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback being named to an ambassadorship in Rome representing the U.S. at United Nations agricultural organizations. Kansas Public Radio said Brownback would be appointed U.S. ambassador for three food and agriculture organizations in Rome. It cited an anonymous former high-ranking government official as its source. The Kansas City Star said in a report citing unnamed sources that no offer has been extended but the governor has discussed the possibility of taking the job. Brownback spokeswoman Melika Willoughby would neither confirm nor deny the reports. The reports come with Kansas facing a budget crisis and Brownback trying to stave off income tax increases supported by many fellow Republicans. Read more

Pew: US labor force would shrink without new immigrants

WASHINGTON (AP) — America’s work force will only grow over the next two decades if new immigrants arrive to replace retiring Baby Boomers, a report from the Pew Research Center finds. In a report out Wednesday, Pew projects that the U.S. working-age (25-64) population will grow from 173 million in 2015 to 183 million in 2035. But new immigrants will account for all the growth. Without them, the number of working-age Americans would drop to 166 million by 2035. As Baby Boomers retire, the number of U.S.-born working-age adults with U.S.-born parents will account for a smaller share of working-age population: 66 percent in 2035, down from 74 percent in 2015. Read more

US claims for unemployment aid rise by 20,000 to 243,000

WASHINGTON (AP) — More Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, but claims remained low enough to suggest that most workers enjoy job security. The Labor Department said Thursday that applications for jobless aid rose by 20,000 to a seasonally adjusted 243,000, up from a 44-year-low 223,000 the week before. The four-week average, which is less volatile, blipped up by 2,250 to 236,500. Overall, 2.06 million Americans are collecting unemployment checks, down more than 6 percent from a year ago. Read more

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