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Data brings more focus on timing of U.S. rate hike

U.S. stock investors may be bracing for further signs next week that the Federal Reserve could increase interest rates sooner rather than later, with retail sales expected to rebound after two straight months of declines. A pickup in retail sales could show consumers are benefiting from sharply lower oil prices, but analysts say spending in February was likely curbed by unusually harsh weather in parts of the United States. Among them, Richmond Federal Reserve President Jeffrey Lacker repeated his view that the Fed should raise rates in June.

Loss at Volkswagen plant upends union’s plan for U.S. South

By Bernie Woodall CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee (Reuters) – In a stinging defeat that could accelerate the decades-long decline of the United Auto Workers, Volkswagen AG workers voted against union representation at a Chattanooga, Tennessee plant, which had been seen as organized labor's best chance to expand in the U.S. South. The loss, 712 to 626, capped a sprint finish to a long race and was particularly surprising for UAW supporters, because Volkswagen had allowed the union access to the factory and officially stayed neutral on the vote, while other manufacturers have been hostile to organized labor. UAW spent more than two years organizing and then called a snap election in an agreement with VW.

Euro steadies, shares sag ahead of ECB meeting

By Marc Jones LONDON (Reuters) – The euro remained near a two month high and European shares eased on Thursday, as investors waited to see if the European Central Bank will cut rates and hint at more measures to boost struggling eurozone economies. The ECB is expected to react to the recent downturn in even core euro zone countries like Germany by trimming its main interest rate for the first time in 10 months to a new all-time low of 0.5 percent from 0.75 percent in a statement at 1145 GMT (7.45 a.m. ET). But following Wednesday's message from the U.S. …

Using Facebook for B2B marketing

A social networking site like Facebook does not seem like the ideal place to advertise to a business audience. However, Facebook has …