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Business briefs

Consumer demand increases trade deficit in February

The U.S. trade deficit widened more than expected in February as a small rise in exports to the highest level in 16 months was offset by increased demand for consumer goods. The Commerce Department reported Tuesday that the deficit increased 7.4 percent to $39.7 billion. Exports edged up 0.2 percent while imports jumped 1.7 percent.

Judge to hear 2,000 claims regarding Madoff feeder funds

The judge overseeing the fallout from Bernard Madoff's multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme agreed Tuesday to hear about 2,000 claims by people whose money was invested via feeder funds, in many cases without their knowledge. Separately, Irving Picard, the trustee liquidating Madoff's defunct investment-advisory business, reported he has recovered $1.5 billion and is pursuing $14.8 billion more from the feeder funds, Madoff's family and friends and related parties.

Strong earnings reports keep Dow above the 11,000 mark

The Dow Jones industrial average extended its push past 11,000 Tuesday after expectations grew that stronger corporate earnings would signal that a recovery is on track.The Dow rose 13.45 points, or 0.1 percent, to 11,019.42. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 0.82, or 0.1 percent, to 1,197.30, while the Nasdaq composite index rose 8.12, or 0.3 percent, to 2,465.99.

Arrow signs distribution deal with zip utility unit PKWARE

Arrow Enterprise Computing Solutions, a division of Melville-based Arrow Electronics Inc., has signed a North American distribution agreement with the zip utility software company PKWARE Inc., inventor of the .zip standard, Arrow said in a news release. Zip software compresses data securely, allowing it to be stored and delivered safely and quickly, then decrypted and unzipped - expanded into readable form - by the end-user. - Joseph Mallia

Senate Dems look to extend jobless benefits through May

Senate Democrats are seeking to give the unemployed jobless benefits through Memorial Day instead of risking a cutoff in three weeks. Montana Democrat Max Baucus says the additional time would give negotiators a chance to iron out legislation to extend jobless benefits through year's end and revive expired tax breaks.

From staff and wire reports

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