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U.S. workers' wages up last year by 2.6 percent

U.S. workers' wages and benefits grew 2.6 percent last year, the fastest 12-month pace since the spring of 2015.

The 12-month gain in wages and benefits came despite a slight slowdown at the end of last year with wages and benefits rising 0.6 percent in the fourth quarter, a tiny dip from a 0.7 percent gain in the third quarter, the Labor Department reported Wednesday. Still, the 12-month gain was an improvement from a 2.2 percent gain for the 12 months ending in December 2016.

Most economists believe that wages should be increasing at a faster pace given the drop in the jobless rate to 4.1 percent. The last time unemployment was this low, in the late 1990s, average hourly pay, another measure of wages, was rising at a 4 percent pace.

Hourly wages rose 2.5 percent in 2017, down from a 2016 gain of 2.9 percent, according to a separate Labor Department report.

 

Daimler fires manager over monkey tests

Automaker Daimler fired an executive who represented it at an industry-backed organization that commissioned diesel exhaust tests involving monkeys.

A statement from Daimler AG on Wednesday did not identify by name the executive, citing privacy concerns. It said the executive sat on the top management board of the now-dissolved EUGT entity.

Volkswagen on Tuesday suspended its head of external relations, who said he knew about the experiments but did not inform the company's then-CEO, Martin Winterkorn.

The tests carried about by a lab in New Mexico involved exposing monkeys to diluted exhaust gases from a Volkswagen diesel in an attempt to measure the success of diesel technology in lowering harmful emissions. The New York Times has reported the car was rigged to lower emissions during testing.

 

Court rejects suit against Twitter

A federal appeals court on Wednesday rejected a lawsuit that sought to hold Twitter liable for the deaths of two U.S. contractors in Jordan three years ago in an attack for which the Islamic State group claimed responsibility.

The lawsuit failed to establish Twitter accounts used by IS directly caused the men's deaths, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said.

Lloyd Fields and James Creach were shot and killed in Jordan in 2015 by a Jordanian police captain while training law enforcement officers. Their families argued that IS Twitter accounts were a substantial factor in the men's deaths and that the company should have anticipated attacks.

Twitter said in court documents its service was available to anyone, and there was no allegation it provided any specialized platform to IS.

 

Toyota recalls cars for air bag problems

Toyota is recalling about 645,000 vehicles worldwide to fix an electrical problem that could stop air bags from inflating in a crash.

The recall covers certain Toyota Prius and Lexus RX and NX SUVs. Also covered are some Toyota Alphard, Vellfire, Sienta, Noah, Voxy, Esquire, Probox, Succeed, Corolla, Highlander, Levin and Hilux models. All were produced from May of 2015 to March of 2016.

The automaker says an open electrical circuit could occur over time. That would set off an air bag warning light and could stop the side and front air bags from deploying.

Dealers will inspect serial numbers on sensors and replace them if necessary at no cost to owners. Toyota will notify owners by letter starting in late March.

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