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BUSINESS BRIEFLY

Price of oil falls to lowest level in 9 months

NEW YORK (AP) -- America isn't generating enough jobs, Europe is headed for recession, and China, the world's powerhouse economy, is starting to slow.

At least there's some good news at the pump.

The price of oil fell to its lowest level in almost nine months Thursday -- $78.20 a barrel. Gasoline is way down, too, at $3.47 a gallon. The national average for gas is 17 cents cheaper than a year ago and down 46 cents from its peak in early April. Experts say it could dip to $3.30 by July 4th.

In the Buffalo Niagara region, a gallon of regular averaged $3.73 Thursday, down 22 cents from a month ago.

Oil fell Thursday after reports from China and the U.S. both pointed to a slowdown in manufacturing. As factories fill fewer orders, they use less energy, and that cuts into petroleum demand.

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Home sales decline in May

WASHINGTON -- Americans bought fewer homes in May than April, suggesting a sluggish job market could threaten a modest recovery in housing.

The National Association of Realtors said Thursday that sales of previously occupied homes dropped 1.5 percent in May from the previous month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.55 million.

Sales have risen 9.6 percent from a year ago, evidence that home sales are slowly improving. Still, the pace has fallen since nearly touching a two-year high in April and remains well below the 6 million that economists consider healthy.

"Not a surprise that existing home sales took a step back in May," said Jennifer Lee, a senior economist at BMO Capital Markets. Lee noted that the level of home sales is still "decent." But she said, "Softening job growth could slow the housing recovery."

First-time buyers, who are critical to a recovery, made up just 34 percent of sales in May. That's down slightly from 35 percent in April. In a healthy market, the number is more than 40 percent.

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$1.36 a year to charge iPad

NEW YORK (AP) -- That coffee you're drinking while gazing at your iPad? It cost more than all the electricity needed to run those games, emails, videos and news stories for a year.

The annual cost to charge an iPad is just $1.36, according to the Electric Power Research Institute, a nonprofit research and development group funded by electric utilities.

By comparison, a 60-watt compact fluorescent bulb costs $1.61, a desktop PC adds up to $28.21, and a refrigerator runs you $65.72.

The group, known as EPRI, studied the power consumption of Apple Inc.'s iPad to determine the effect that the newly popular devices might have on the nation's electricity use.

The answer: not much.

If the number of iPads triples from the current 67 million, they would need the electricity from one small power plant operating at full strength.

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EarthLink employs 85 here

Eighty-five workers in Western New York will staff EarthLink TechCare, the Internet service provider's fully managed, outsourced information-technology help desk.

Nearly all of the EarthLink employees in Amherst and Pittsford previously worked for two divisions of Synergy Global Solutions, the IT company with offices in those communities.

Synergy sold its IT Solution Center and its cloud-hosted application business, with 81 employees, to EarthLink last year.

EarthLink has added four employees to their ranks and has plans to increase their numbers by 10 percent this year to handle expected growth from the TechCare program.

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Focus on women's firms

Women-owned businesses will be featured at a vendor showcase Saturday.

Women in the Spotlight Going Global, a women's networking group, will sponsor the showcase. Vendors will represent businesses from a wide range of categories, including jewelry, fashion, catering, accounting and photography.

The "Step Into Summer" vendor showcase will be held Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. at the ArtSpace Lofts, 1219 Main St.

For more information and a list of vendors, visit www.womeninthespotlightgoinglobal.com.