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TALKING POINTS

Real estate network looks for new Boston foothold

REAL ESTATE

NAI Global returns to Boston

NAI Global, the New York-based network of commercial real estate firms, has returned to Boston, this time through a newly launched pilot program aimed at signing up individual brokers to its network in cities where it does not have an affiliated firm. The first in Boston to join NAI in this effort is JP Plunkett, founder of Red Dome Realty, a four-person real estate firm based in Dorchester. Plunkett said his firm will keep its name, while reflecting the NAI affiliation in its branding, and he will help the umbrella company search for other members in Greater Boston. Affiliated firms and individuals continue their independence but share marketing and other resources. NAI was last in Boston through an affiliation with Hunneman, but NAI and Hunneman parted ways because Hunneman wanted to have its own branding in 2018. (NAI still has affiliated firms in Worcester, Providence, and Manchester, N.H.) Plunkett said he was familiar with NAI Global in part because of his time at what was then NAI Hunneman; Plunkett left in 2015 to launch Red Dome after four years at Hunneman and nearly 16 years at Cushman & Wakefield. — JON CHESTO

AUTOMOTIVE

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Toyota profits amid the pandemic, chip shortages

Toyota unveiled a 250 billion yen ($2.3 billion) share buyback and expects to return to pre-pandemic profitability in the current fiscal year as its ability to keep churning out vehicles amid a global shortage of automotive chips puts it in a prime position to capitalize on swiftly recovering demand for cars. The Japanese automaker forecast 2.5 trillion yen ($22.8 billion) in operating profit for the 12 months that will end in March, compared with a 2.4 trillion yen ($21.9 billion) profit in fiscal 2019, before the pandemic. In a tumultuous period for the auto industry, Toyota quickly pulled ahead of the pack, straightening out its supply chain and ramping up production in order to meet rising demand for cars. By maneuvering through the disruptions of the pandemic, Toyota rose to become the world’s largest automaker last year, wresting the title back from Volkswagen. Japanese rival Nissan by contrast reported an operating loss of 151 billion yen ($1.3 billion) for the fiscal year on Tuesday. Honda is set to announce earnings Friday, with analysts predicting, on average, a profit of 549 billion yen ($500 billion), down about 13 percent from the previous year. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

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RENTAL CARS

Hertz chooses firms to buy it out of bankruptcy

Hertz picked Knighthead Capital Management and Certares Management to buy the company out of bankruptcy, capping a dramatic brawl for control of the car renter as travel rebounds, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The company selected a bid from the firms over a competing group led by Centerbridge Partners, Warburg Pincus, and Dundon Capital Partners, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing private plans. The winning plan would hand shareholders value of around $8 a share, made up of about $240 million in cash and warrants for nearly 20 percent of the reorganized equity, they added. Hertz shares soared more than 40 percent Wednesday to as high as $5.19. The recovery is a rare win for shareholders, who are typically wiped out in bankruptcy proceedings. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

INTERNATIONAL

EU economy on track to rebound this year

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The European Union economy is set to bounce back strongly this year after the deep coronavirus recession and member states are forecast to regain the ground lost by the end of next year. In its latest forecast Wednesday, the EU’s executive commission significantly upgraded its predictions for economic growth. It said that growth in the 27-nation bloc is predicted to expand by 4.2 percent this year, a significant uptick from a February prediction of 3.7 percent. Last year the economy tumbled 6.3 percent, the worst in EU history, as the pandemic left a trail of hundreds of thousands of dead in the bloc of 450 million. And when the United States and Britain took a flying start with their vaccination programs, the EU stuttered out of the blocks. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

AGRICULTURE

Palm oil price jump could mean more expensive chocolate

The meteoric rise in palm oil prices to record levels is poised to inflate costs for everyone from restaurants to confectionery and cosmetic manufacturers, and could potentially change consumption patterns. The world’s most consumed edible oil is found in products as diverse as chocolate, pastries, soaps, lipstick, and biofuel, and is widely used in Asian restaurants. The tropical oil has surged more than 120 percent in the past year and burst through $1,091 a ton to a record on Wednesday. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

ECONOMY

Americans borrow for cars and homes as they pay down credit cards

Americans increased their borrowing to a record of $14.6 trillion in March, driven by home and auto loans. But the growth masked what Federal Reserve Bank of New York researchers called a “confounding” decline in credit-card balances during a quarter when retail sales soared and travel resumed. The New York Fed report, the first snapshot of household balance sheets as the economy started to rebound from the pandemic, shows that mortgage, auto, and student loan balances have continued to increase. Meanwhile, credit-card balances shrunk by $49 billion in the first quarter, the second-largest quarterly decline since the data started being compiled in 1999. The largest drop was in the second quarter of 2020, when business activity was frozen by lockdowns. An influx of pandemic relief cash from the government and payment moratoriums on student loans and other bills has enabled people to pay down their credit-card balances for months now. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

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MINING

Kentucky Republican wants approval for coal companies to mine rare-earth minerals

GOP Representative Andy Barr is proposing legislation to expedite approval for coal companies to mine rare earths and other minerals critical for the electrification revolution the Biden administration covets. The bill being introduced by the Kentucky Republican also would offer a lifeline to the struggling US coal industry, which faces waning demand as power plants shift away from the dirtiest fossil fuel. It would expand permitting to streamline and expedite the approval process for existing coal mines to extract and process the minerals the United States says are crucial for batteries and other green-energy infrastructure. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

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INVESTMENTS

Ackman adds Domino’s to his holdings

Bill Ackman has taken a stake worth almost $1 billion in Domino’s Pizza, adding another big-name consumer company to his portfolio, and said his blank-check firm is nearing a separate deal to take an “iconic” brand public in the coming weeks. Ackman’s Pershing Square Capital Management owns a little under 6 percent of the pizza chain’s shares, he said Wednesday at a conference. He said he bought into Domino’s when the shares dipped to roughly $330, and after selling out of Starbucks following a run-up in the coffee company’s stock. Domino’s becomes the latest restaurant chain that Pershing Square has invested in, following stakes in such names as Chipotle, McDonald’s, and Burger King-owner Restaurant Brands International. — BLOOMBERG NEWS