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Economy Briefs: Exxon says U.S. energy revival has staying power

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NEW YORK | Exxon says the energy renaissance in the U.S. will continue and predicts that North America will become a net exporter of oil and gas by the middle of the next decade.

The oil and gas giant's latest long-term energy outlook, released Tuesday, says the rapid growth of production in the U.S. and Canada, along with improved energy efficiency, will lead to more oil and gas being sent overseas.

Exxon Mobil Corp.'s annual outlook is noted by investors and policymakers, and the company says its conclusions shape its decisions about where to invest. The main conclusions dovetail with recent forecasts from the U.S. government and others.

AIRLINES

Delta buys 49% stake in Virgin Atlantic

Delta Air Lines said it will buy almost half of Virgin Atlantic for $360 million as it tries to catch up to rivals in the lucrative New York-to-London travel market.

Delta plans to form a joint venture with Virgin Atlantic so they can sell seats on each other's flights, share the costs and profits, and set the flight schedules in ways that help both airlines. American Airlines has a similar deal with British Airways.

INTERNET

Amazon to collect sales tax from Mass. residents

BOSTON | Massachusetts retailers are hailing a deal reached between online seller Amazon.com and state officials to begin collecting the state's 6.25 percent sales tax from Bay State residents who order items through the website.

Gov. Deval Patrick announced the agreement Tuesday, a deal long sought by owners of traditional "brick and mortar" stores in Massachusetts who say online tax-free purchases put them at a critical disadvantage since they are required to collect the tax on their products. They say the arrangement has amounted to an automatic 6.25 percent discount for online merchants that they can't match.

Under the agreement, Amazon will start collecting the Massachusetts sales taxes Nov. 1, 2013.

BANKS

Fidelity cuts fees at 8 index mutual funds

BOSTON | Fidelity Investments is trimming fees at its largest index mutual funds and making some of its lowest-cost options accessible to a larger number of fund shareholders, including those with as little as $2,500 to invest.

The moves announced Tuesday follow recent investment fee cuts involving mutual funds or exchange-traded funds at rivals such as Vanguard, BlackRock and Charles Schwab.

Fidelity's moves affect mutual funds holding about $100 billion in assets, out of about $1.6 billion that the Boston-based company manages overall.

TECHNOLOGY

Yahoo revamps email to catch up with Gmail

SAN FRANCISCO | Yahoo is spiffing up and expanding its email service in an attempt to regain some of the ground lost to a Google alternative that lured away millions of users.

The changes unveiled Tuesday are meant to make Yahoo's email faster and easier to use on the Web. To cater to the growing audience of people checking their email on smartphones and tablet computers, Yahoo also introduced mobile apps for the iPhone, iPad and devices powered by Microsoft Corp.'s recently released Windows 8 system.

The company, which is based in Sunnyvale, Calif., also updated its email app designed for Google Inc.'s Android operating system.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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