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DEBT

China increases holdings of U.S. Treasury securities

China, the biggest buyer of U.S. Treasury debt, boosted its holdings in April, the first increase after five straight declines.

The Treasury Department said Wednesday that China increased its holdings by $7.6 billion to $1.15 trillion.

Total foreign holdings of Treasury securities rose 0.2 percent to $4.49 trillion.

Japan, the second largest buyer of U.S. debt, trimmed its holdings slightly by $1 billion to $906.9 billion. There had been concerns that the March 11 earthquake and tsunami would lead Japan to sharply reduce its purchases to use the money for reconstruction.

AIRLINES

Profitable summer seen ahead of iffy fall

DALLAS — This promises to be a moneymaking summer for the airlines, with planes full of passengers paying higher fares than a year ago. But there could be a fall chill in the air.

Leisure travelers say they’re cutting back on travel because of high-priced tickets, concern about the economy and the need to spend more for everything from food to gasoline.

Airlines are planning to reduce flights once summer ends. Some are already offering sales to fill their planes when vacation season is over.

“We are worried about what happens after Labor Day,” said Helane Becker, an analyst for Dahlman Rose & Co.

COURTS

JPMorgan Chase settles auto credit case

JPMorgan Chase Bank has agreed to pay $2 million to settle federal regulators’ civil claims that it used high-pressure tactics and false statements to get auto loan customers to buy contracts that would suspend or cancel loan payments in case they lost their job.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Treasury Department agency that oversees national banks, announced the fine Wednesday for how the credit protection product was marketed in 2008 and 2009 by its Chase Auto Finance division.

The bank neither admitted nor denied wrongdoing under the settlement agreement.

DATA BREACH

Payroll giant ADP probes data hacking

SAN FRANCISCO — Payroll-handling firm Automatic Data Processing said Wednesday that hackers broke into one of its benefits administration business systems.

ADP thought the “system intrusion” at recently acquired Workscape was limited to one client, whose name was not disclosed.

“ADP immediately notified the client … and continues to take all appropriate measures to investigate and to help mitigate any issues,” the New Jersey-based company said.

The hack was detected by routine security monitoring and did not involve payroll information, according to ADP, which said it was working with law enforcement to investigate the incident.

HEALTH

Johnson & Johnson stops making heart stents

TRENTON, N.J. — Johnson & Johnson said Wednesday that it will stop making and developing heart stents to focus on other stent types, a case of the pioneer in effect ceding that territory of the stent market to later entrants amid increasingly fierce competition and flat sales.

In a surprise move, the company that produced the first drug-coated heart stent, Cypher, now will abandon it, with sales barely a quarter of their peak five years ago.

At the same time, J&J will cut hundreds of jobs, shutter two factories and take a charge of $500 million to $600 million in the current quarter as it restructures its Cordis heart device business.

Stents, which are mesh-wire tubes used to hold arteries open after they are surgically cleared of fatty plaque, were the hot option for patients with clogged arteries in the 1990s and the first half of the past decade.

AIRCRAFT

Boeing to boost production of 737s

SEATTLE — Boeing Co. will ramp up production of the next-generation 737, its most popular jet.

The world’s second-biggest maker of commercial planes said Wednesday that it plans to build 42 of the 737 model per month by the first half of 2014. Then it will boost production further to an average of two of the planes per workday, for a total of nearly 500 a year. The company currently assembles 31.5 of the jets a month.

The 737’s new “passenger comfort” features have spurred demand to “unprecedented” levels, Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Jim Albaugh said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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