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European bus startup FlixBus heads to US, starting with LA

DATA BREACH

Panera Bread data breach hit online customers

Panera Bread this week became the latest company hit by a data breach, acknowledging that customer information was vulnerable on its company website for at least eight months. The records belonged to customers who had registered for the MyPanera program to order food online. The details exposed included their names, e-mail and physical addresses, birthdays, and the last four digits of user credit card numbers, according to the security news site KrebsOnSecurity. Also exposed were customers’ Panera loyalty card numbers , which scammers could potentially abuse to spend prepaid accounts. On Tuesday, Panera estimated that fewer than 10,000 customers had been affected by the leak. KrebsOnSecurity put the number at closer to 37 million, though experts say the true number of compromised records may never be fully known. Panera did not return a request for comment, or for clarification on the nature of the data breach. — WASHINGTON POST

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INTERNATIONAL

EU unemployment lowest in a decade

Europe’s economic recovery is rolling ahead, driving down unemployment to the lowest in nearly a decade. But lagging inflation means the European Central Bank will be in no hurry to end its stimulus efforts. The European Union’s statistics agency, Eurostat, said Wednesday that unemployment in the 19 countries that use the euro fell to 8.5 percent in February from 8.6 percent the month before. That was the lowest since December 2008, shortly after the bankruptcy of US investment bank Lehman Brothers plunged the world into a financial crisis. The eurozone then struggled with a crisis over excessive government and bank debt that threatened to break up the currency union. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

INTERNATIONAL

Germany sees steep drop in sales of new diesel cars

German officials say there has been a sharp drop in sales of new diesel cars, following a court decision that allows cities to ban the use of heavily polluting vehicles. Figures released Wednesday by the Federal Motor Transport Authority show new registrations of diesel-powered cars dropped by 25.4 percent in March to under 109,000, compared with about 146,000 during the same month a year earlier. Germany’s top administrative court ruled Feb. 27 that cities can ban diesel cars and trucks to combat air pollution. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

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HIRING

US companies hired 241,000 in March

US companies hired 241,000 new workers in March, a private survey found, a solid total that suggests the already low unemployment rate may be headed lower in the coming months. Payroll processor ADP said Wednesday that the gains were strong across different industries, with construction, manufacturing, and professional services such as accounting showing healthy hiring increases. The figures come two days before the government releases its monthly employment figures. Economists forecast that Friday’s official report will show employers added 185,000 jobs, a smaller but still solid figure, according to a survey by data provider FactSet. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

INTERNATIONAL

British Tories pay their female employees more than men

The party of Britain’s only ever female prime ministers has revealed that on average it pays its female employees more than its men. Lawmaker Rehman Chishti, who serves as vice chair of the ruling Conservative Party, told BBC Radio that it has a median pay gap of 12.9 percent in favor of women. That is the opposite of most firms and organizations in the United Kingdom, where the difference is 18.4 percent higher for men. By midnight Wednesday, employers with 250 or more staff are required to publish data on their pay gap. So far more than 9,000 have reported the mean and median difference in average hourly wages, bonuses, and what percentage of each pay quartile is female. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

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MOVIES

Chinese moviegoers boost Hollywood

Even as trade tensions are mounting between the United States and China, the importance of Chinese moviegoers to Hollywood has never been more apparent. Global moviegoing reached a record high of $40.6 billion in 2017 despite a downturn in audiences at US and Canadian theaters, the Motion Picture Association of America said Wednesday in its annual report. That was despite the lowest attendance at domestic theaters in 22 years. Instead, the growth was largely propelled by China, which accounted for $7.9 billion in ticket sales in 2017. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

MOVIES

AMC to open Saudi Arabia’st first movie theater

AMC says it will open Saudi Arabia’s first movie theater on April 18. Cinema operators are rushing to build theaters in the Gulf kingdom. The Saudi government in December said it would open the country to commercial movie theaters for the first time in more than 35 years. It’s part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s efforts to transform Saudi society. In June, Saudi Arabia will allow women to drive. AMC’s first theater will open in Riyadh. It plans to open up to 100 theaters by 2030. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

TECHNOLOGY

Apple hires Google’s top AI executive

Apple Inc. hired Google’s top artificial intelligence executive to help the iPhone maker catch rivals in one of the most-important fields of modern technology. John Giannandrea, who will report to chief executive Tim Cook, has much work to do. Apple, which pioneered smartphones and tablets, has lagged behind Amazon.com Inc., Alphabet Inc.’s Google, and Microsoft Corp. in AI. The Cupertino, Calif., company started its push into artificial intelligence in 2011, with the debut of the Siri voice-controlled digital assistant. It added new features like advanced photo search and predictive text messages to the iPhone in recent years, but has made little progress, especially compared with Google.—BLOOMBERG NEWS

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FAST FOOD

Taco Bell expands in Australia

Taco Bell, looking overseas for growth as it copes with a saturated US market, is expanding Down Under. In November, the chain opened its first Australian restaurant in Brisbane, and it has exceeded management’s expectations, said Liz Williams, president of Taco Bell International. Sales are several million dollars higher than for a typical unit, she said. Taco Bell is capitalizing on a less-crowded market for Mexican fare outside the United States. This year, the Yum Brands Inc.-owned chain will open between 90 and 100 net new stores in other countries, compared with 77 last year, Williams said. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

AUTOMOBILES

Former Ford engineer gets $17m in discrimination suit

A jury has awarded nearly $17 million to a former Ford engineer who sued for discrimination because he says two supervisors repeatedly berated and criticized him for his Arab background and accent. On March 28, a federal jury in Michigan ruled that Faisal Khalaf was subjected to workplace discrimination and retaliation after he reported the abuse, the Detroit Free Press reported . Khalaf was born in Lebanon and holds a PhD in industrial engineering. He worked for the automaker for more than 15 years. — ASSOCIATED PRESS