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BUSINESS BRIEFLY

Canadian dollar posts its third weekly gain

Canada's dollar posted its third weekly gain, its longest winning streak since October, as investors sought riskier assets after the Federal Reserve pledged to keep U.S. interest rates at almost zero through 2014.

The loonie, as the currency is called for the image of the waterfowl on the Canadian $1 coin, fluctuated Friday after data showed the economy of the U.S., Canada's biggest trade partner, grew less than forecast.

Canada's dollar was little changed at CA$1.0018 per U.S. dollar Friday. It increased 1.1 percent on the week in its longest winning stretch since the four weeks ended Oct. 28. One Canadian dollar purchases 99.82 U.S. cents.

In Western New York, retailers often see an increase in Canadian shoppers when the loonie approaches parity with the greenback.

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5 nations' debt downgraded

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) -- Fitch Ratings downgraded the debt of Italy, Spain and three other countries that use the euro on Friday, as European leaders work on several fronts to contain the continent's government-debt crisis.

The lower government-debt ratings for Italy, Spain, Belgium, Cyprus and Slovenia could make it more expensive for these countries to borrow.

Fitch said its decision was based on the deteriorating economic outlook in Europe, a concern that Europe's bailout fund is not large enough and a belief that European leaders are not acting quickly or boldly enough to prevent the debt crisis from worsening.

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New markets spur P&G

NEW YORK (AP) -- Emerging markets are playing a bigger role in Procter & Gamble Co.'s growth, in another sign that U.S. companies are courting new customers overseas as American shoppers get tapped out.

The maker of Tide laundry detergent, Crest toothpaste and Pampers diapers said Friday that its market value grew 9 percent in developing countries over the latest quarter, but just 2 percent in North America and 0.5 percent in Western Europe. That news came as P&G reported a 49 percent drop in profit for the second fiscal quarter, hobbled by higher costs for materials and a big write-down on the value of two of its business units.

Developing markets like Africa and parts of Latin America and Asia now make up almost 37 percent of P&G's sales, up from 27 percent five years ago.

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Call center set in Batavia

BATAVIA -- Premiere Credit of North America has leased space in a former factory for its collection agencies call center. The firm hopes to be operating by March 1 with about 50 employees in 8,500 square feet of office space at 1 Mill St.

The site was occupied for about four years by a similar firm, Pioneer Credit Recovery of Arcade and Perry in Wyoming County. Pioneer opened in Batavia in January and left the city when it lost federal collection contracts.

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Machinery firm expands

A North Tonawanda manufacturing company has acquired a Suffolk County company and will relocate operations to its Wurlitzer Drive site.

Audubon Machinery Corp., which makes equipment for industrial, medical and life science research applications, acquired Roe Bio-Medical Products, it announced Friday.

The acquisition of the engineering and manufacturing facility will extend Audubon's line of lab animal equipment.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

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Legislative forum set

Eleven state legislators from Western New York will participate in a forum sponsored by the Western New York Chamber Alliance on Feb. 10 in Cheektowaga.

The forum is expected to cover topics from health care to tax reform and mandate relief, as well as the state budget.

The forum, which costs $15, will run from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. in the Creekside banquet facility at 2669 Union Road in Cheektowaga. To register, call 874-1202.