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Business

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Briefs

Home price gains best in 7 years

U.S. home prices jumped in February by the largest amount in seven years, evidence that the housing recovery strengthened ahead of the all-important spring-buying season.

Home prices rose 10.2 percent in February compared with a year earlier, CoreLogic, a real estate data provider, said Wednesday. The annual gain was the biggest since March 2006. Prices have now increased on an annual basis for 12 straight months, underscoring the recovery’s steady momentum.

The gains were broad-based. Prices rose in 47 of 50 states and in all but four of the nation’s 100 largest metro areas. Delaware, Alabama and Illinois were the only states to report price declines.

CoreLogic’s measure of national prices also rose 0.5 percent in February from January. That’s a solid increase during the winter months, when sales typically slow.

Private employers add 158,000 jobs

A survey shows U.S. companies added fewer jobs in March compared with the previous month, as construction firms held off on hiring after three months of solid gains.

Private employers added 158,000 jobs last month, payroll processor ADP said Wednesday. That’s down from February’s gain of 237,000 and January’s 177,000.

Construction companies didn’t add any jobs in March, after average monthly gains of 29,000 in the previous three months.

Monsanto profit rises 22 percent

Monsanto reported Wednesday that its income increased 22 percent in the agriculture products company’s second quarter on strong sales of biotech seeds, particularly in Brazil and other emerging markets.

The company boosted its full-year earnings guidance, citing its strong performance in the first half of the year.

The St. Louis company said it earned $1.48 billion, or $2.74 a share in the three months ended Feb. 13, up from $1.21 billion, or $2.24 a share, in the same quarter a year ago.

Analyst: Apple iTV to launch this year

It’s no secret that Apple wants to get into the living room by making its own TV set, and there have been plenty of rumors and reports about how and when it’s going to happen.

Now an analyst says he’s learned that the set will go on sale late this year, for $1,500 to $2,500. In a research note Wednesday, Brian White of Topeka Capital Markets says the “iTV” will be 60 inches on the diagonal but could also come in 50- and 55-inch versions.

Verizon denies talk of bid for Vodafone

Verizon Communications Inc. has denied a report that it’s looking to partner with AT&T Inc. to buy Vodafone Group PLC, the British cellphone company that owns 45 percent of Verizon’s wireless business.

Verizon owns the 55 percent of Verizon Wireless that Vodafone doesn’t own and has been openly interested for years in buying out Vodafone. But tax and pricing issues have gotten in the way.

According to the Financial Times, Verizon is now looking at joining AT&T for a bid. Verizon would get Vodafone’s stake in Verizon Wireless, while AT&T would take over the rest of Vodafone, the newspaper said.

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