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Borrowing for college, cars rises

Americans took out more loans to buy cars and attend school in February but used their credit cards less frequently for the second straight month.

The Federal Reserve said Friday that consumers increased borrowing by $8.7 billion, the sixth straight monthly increase.

The jump in borrowing was driven by an $11 billion increase in the category that mostly measures demand for auto and student loans. Borrowing on credit cards fell by $2 billion after a $3 billion decline in January.

Total consumer borrowing rose to seasonally adjusted $2.52 trillion. That’s nearly at pre-recession levels and up from a post-recession low point of $2.39 trillion reached in September 2010.

Borrowing had tumbled for more than two years during and immediately after the recession.

Kodak proposes bonuses for staying

Eastman Kodak Co. is seeking permission to pay about 300 executives and other employees a total of $13.5 million in bonuses to persuade them to stay with the company as it reorganizes under bankruptcy protection.

The photography company said the targeted employees have knowledge and skills critical to help the business emerge from Chapter 11 and would be difficult to replace if they left to pursue other offers. They include 119 middle managers who would share $8.5 million of the sum.

Also this week, Kodak told retirees it has withdrawn for now its motion to end supplemental health care benefits for about 16,000 eligible retirees.

Airline employee quits amid tip-off claims

A Virgin Atlantic employee has resigned following allegations she routinely fed information about the airline’s celebrity clientele – from Madonna to Sienna Miller – to paparazzi.

The employee was a junior member of the team that looks after high-profile clients, Virgin said Friday. She quit Thursday before reports published in the Guardian and the Press Gazette alleged that she had passed the booking information of more than 60 celebrities on to the Big Pictures photo agency.

Shopping centers see occupancy gains

U.S. shopping centers had a net gain in occupancies in the first quarter amid a slow economic recovery, according to property- research company Reis Inc.

Occupied space rose by a net 2.96 million square feet (275,100 square meters), the second-largest increase since neighborhood and community retail centers began losing tenants in the first quarter of 2008, New York-based Reis reported Friday. So-called absorption was up from 717,000 square feet a year earlier.

“The first quarter produced more evidence in favor of a slow recovery,” Ryan Severino, a Reis senior economist, said in the report. “We remain cautious about pronouncing a turnaround until we observe a couple more quarters of improvement.”

Facebook leaning toward Nasdaq

Facebook will list its shares with Nasdaq, according to media reports.

That would be a big win for the Nasdaq, which competes fiercely with NYSE Euronext Inc., especially for an initial public offering as large as Facebook’s, pegged at $5 billion.

The New York Times and CNBC cited anonymous sources on the potential listing.

Calls to Facebook and Nasdaq OMX Group Inc. were not immediately returned Friday.