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Jobless rate in April fell in two-thirds of states

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The unemployment rate fell in two-thirds of U.S. states last month, evidence that modest economic growth is boosting hiring in most areas of the country.

And in many states, unemployment has fallen well below the national average, which was 8.1 percent last month. The rate was under 7 percent in 22 states in April. That compares with only 13 states in April 2011.

The Labor Department said Friday that the unemployment rate dropped in 37 states in April, the most in three months. Unemployment rose in 5 states and was unchanged in eight.

Nationally, the unemployment rate has fallen a full percentage point since August. Employers have added a million jobs over the past five months, though the pace of hiring slowed in March and April.

The national rate has also declined because some people gave up looking for work. The government counts people as unemployed only if they are actively looking for a job.

The states with the lowest unemployment continue to be in the upper Midwest with small populations. North Dakota's rate was 3 percent in April, the lowest in the country. It was followed by Nebraska at 3.9 percent and South Dakota at 4.3 percent.


Delta explains price glitch

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Delta Air Lines said a glitch that appeared to show different airfares to frequent fliers happened because it was trying out a new company to power flight searches on its website.

The airline has taken heat from customers after reports that people who logged into its website with their frequent flier number were offered higher fares than those who searched anonymously. Frequent fliers are an airline's most-valued customers, and the idea that they were asked to pay more has rankled travelers.

Late Friday afternoon, the Transportation Department said it is "looking into the Delta pricing issue." Spokesman Bill Mosley refused to elaborate.


China trade tensions worsen

BEIJING (AP) -- China's government on Friday rejected a U.S. anti-dumping ruling against its makers of solar power equipment, and Chinese manufacturers warned possible higher tariffs might hurt efforts to promote clean energy.

The conflict has worsened U.S.-Chinese trade tensions. The two governments have pledged to cooperate in developing renewable energy but accuse each other of violating free-trade pledges by subsidizing their own manufacturers.

Thursday's preliminary ruling by the Commerce Department said Chinese producers sold solar cells and panels below fair price and hurt American producers. If that is upheld, tariffs averaging 31 percent could be imposed on Chinese solar-panel imports.


Spain may revise budget

MADRID (AP) -- The Spanish government says it may have to revise its 2011 budget deficit upwards for a second time after spending by regional governments exceeded forecasts.

The Finance Ministry said in a statement that the deficit could reach 8.9 percent of GDP after four of its 17 regions overshot their expected budgets. The region were Madrid, Valencia, Andalusia and Castilla-Leon.

Spain's budget deficit is higher than the 3 percent threshold that was supposedly part of the euro's economic framework. The incoming government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy had to revise the figure upwards to 8.5 percent of GDP from the 6 percent forecast by the previous Socialist government.


Kraft cuts coffee prices

That morning cup is getting cheaper.

Kraft Foods Inc. says it is cutting its U.S. coffee prices in response to a drop in the price of unroasted beans.

The food maker says it is immediately lowering the price for its Maxwell House and Yuban coffee by 6 percent. It is dropping prices for Gevalia coffee sold in retailers by 10 percent. And it is reducing the price for all of its instant coffees except Maxwell House by 4 percent. The move comes days after J.M. Smucker Co. cut the prices of its Folgers, Dunkin' Donuts and other coffee brands by 6 percent.

Coffee companies raised their prices several times in 2010 and 2012 after growing demand, poor weather and other issues drove up commodity costs for beans.