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    The numbers are eye popping. Medicare paid doctors $77 billion in 2012 to care for the nation's elderly and disabled, according to an unprecedented trove of data released Wednesday by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

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    WASHINGTON- Inflation at the wholesale level likely rose a touch in March but price pressures in the U.S. remain muted, according to the forecast of economists polled by MarketWatch. The producer price index is expected to edge up 0.1% last month after a 0.1% decline in February. The report will be released by the government at 8:30 a.m. Eastern.

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    Electricity and natural gas retailer Glacial Energy Holdings filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Thursday with the intention to sell its assets to repay its debts. The energy supplier, which unsuccessfully tried to sell its assets last month, said it reached a deal in which the lender, Vantage Commodities Financial Services I LLC, will acquire certain assets of Glacier.

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    Investors placed EUR20 billion of orders for its EUR3 billion five-year bond, and as a result the final yield came in at just 4.95%. For a country that restructured its debt only two years ago, that is a remarkable result. The final yield is not only way beneath the initial suggestions that Greece's bond could yield 5.25% to 5.5%, implying that investors have given up a lot of potential gains already; It also is less than Ireland paid when it issued its first postcrisis five-year bond.

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    Minnesota is set to join the growing list of states raising minimum wage above the federal level. State legislators on Thursday approved the increase, which will raise the minimum wage level in phases until it reaches $9.50 in 2016 for some businesses. The bill does not bind all employers to the same minimum pay rate.

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    Slice and dice China's trade data and investors can see what they want. What is undeniable is that China's role as an export powerhouse isn't what it used to be. On the surface, China's trade data for March were terrible.

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    WASHINGTON-- Finance ministers and central bankers from the Group of Seven major industrial nations met briefly and informally Thursday on the sidelines of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank spring meetings to discuss the international response to the Ukraine crisis, officials said in a statement. Reports said the G-7 was discussing possible steps to take if Russia moved to annex more of eastern Ukraine. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said earlier in the week that...

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    Minnesota lawmakers on Thursday approved a measure raising the state's minimum wage from one of the lowest in the nation to one of the highest. The measure to bump the hourly wage to $9.50, one of dozens of wage proposals debated by lawmakers around the country this year, passed the Democrat-controlled House by a vote of 71-60. It now goes to Democratic Governor Mark Dayton, who supports the bill.

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    For details of foreign central banks' holdings of U.S. marketable securities held at the Federal Reserve, see: http://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/h41/Current/h41.pdf.

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    WASHINGTON-- The U.S. budget deficit narrowed sharply in March, the Treasury Department reported Thursday, as tax receipts climbed and government spending fell broadly. The government's shortfall was $37 billion, down 65% compared to the March 2013 deficit of $107 billion. In March, the government's receipts of individual and corporate taxes were both higher.

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    WASHINGTON-- Treasury Secretary Jack Lew warned his Russian counterpart, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov, of "additional significant sanctions" if the country continues to escalate the situation in Ukraine, a spokesperson said Thursday. The pair met on the sidelines of the World Bank-International Monetary Fund spring meetings. Lew stated that the United States continues to believe that there is an opportunity to resolve the crisis through diplomacy and encouraged...

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    U.S. union organizers squared off against powerful business interests on Thursday over whether proposed federal rule changes for union organizing are an overdue procedural update or a radical step that would put employers at a disadvantage.

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    WASHINGTON-- The U.S. budget deficit was $37 billion in March, the Treasury Department reported Thursday. That is a decrease of $70 billion, or 65%, from the shortfall posted in March 2013. Receipts increased 16% in the month, to $216 billion, while spending dropped 14% to $253 billion. For the first six months of the 2014 fiscal year, the deficit has fallen 31% mostly thanks to receipts, which are up 10% compared to the same period a year ago.

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    The U.S. government last month posted a budget deficit of $37 billion, down from $107 billion in the same period last year, the U.S. Treasury Department said on Thursday. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected a deficit of $78 billion. The current deficit was affected by the monthly calendar timing.

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    WASHINGTON-- For an economy with more false starts than the Washington Redskins' offensive line, it's understandable not to think a sustainable pickup in jobs growth is here. Excluding when the government hired Census workers, there have been only two months since the Great Recession ended when jobs growth was north of 300,000. The last two years have seen jobs growth stuck in a range around 190,000 per month. But, as any prospectus warns, past performance is not an indicator of...

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    The good news on the federal budget is the deficit is shrinking. The bad news also is that the deficit is shrinking. And if you're thinking this is crazy, remember we're talking about Washington, D.C.

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    WASHINGTON-- The House of Representatives on Thursday narrowly approved a fiscal 2015 proposal authored by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan. Wisconsin Republican Ryan's plan had drawn some criticism from conservatives who said it did not cut enough, and it passed on a vote of 219-205. The plan by Ryan, a former vice- presidential candidate, would cut about $5 trillion in spending over 10 years and balance the budget by 2024. The Ryan plan is essentially a political...