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American Girl store at Natick Mall closing


American Girl store at Natick Mall closing

American Girl is closing its sole Massachusetts store, a 22,000-square-foot location in the Natick Mall, on March 20. The Wisconsin-based toy company, a division of Mattel, is also closing its Mall of America store near Minneapolis, leaving it with 17 stores nationwide. American Girl vice president Wade Opland said the closures “are a necessary step to improve the overall health of our business and reinvest in key areas of growth.” Both stores opened in November 2008, and their leases are expiring. The closures will affect about 120 full- and part-time workers, including 73 at the Boston store. — JON CHESTO


Former Eversource executive to chair state DPU

The Baker administration has appointed a former Eversource executive to chair the state Department of Public Utilities. Matt Nelson takes over for Angela O’Connor, who is leaving following her four-year term. Nelson was most recently director of the agency’s electric power division. Before that, he worked as a supervisor for regulatory and planning issues with Eversource from 2012 to 2016. — JON CHESTO


American companies among top filers of patent applications

The UN’s intellectual property organization says companies in Japan, South Korea, and the United States are the top filers of patent applications involving artificial intelligence. The World Intellectual Property Organization has issued a first report aiming to show trends in AI, seen as a growth area in coming years, although still a tiny fraction of all patent applications each year. WIPO said Thursday that machine learning is the dominant AI technique disclosed in patents. It found that IBM and Microsoft have the most AI patent applications, followed by Toshiba, Samsung, and NEC. WIPO’s figures run through 2016, the most recent data available. — ASSOCIATED PRESS



Facebook removes 783 pages linked to Iran

Facebook says it has removed 783 Iran-linked pages, accounts, and groups from its service for what it calls ‘‘coordinated inauthentic behavior.’’ That’s the social network’s term for fake accounts run with the intent of disrupting politics and elections. Facebook has disclosing such purges more regularly in recent months, including ones linked to groups in Myanmar, Bangladesh, and Russia. The accounts on Facebook and Instagram typically misrepresented themselves as locals in more than two dozen countries ranging from Afghanistan, Germany, India, Saudi Arabia, and the United States. Facebook says the accounts spent about $30,000 on advertisements, paid for in US dollars, British pounds, Canadian dollars, and euros. The company says Twitter helped its investigation by sharing information about suspicious activity it found on its own service. — ASSOCIATED PRESS



Pharmaceutical company expands recall of infant ibuprofen

Tris Pharma has expanded its voluntary recall of infant ibuprofen because it may contain overly high concentrations of the drug. The company, based in Monmouth Junction, N.J., announced the move this week. It says the concentration can be as high as 10 percent above the specified limit. The affected brands include CVS health and Equate and are sold at Walmart, CVS, and Family Dollar stores. Infants already susceptible to the adverse effects of ibuprofen could be at a slightly higher risk if given medication from a recalled bottle. There’s a remote possibility an elevated level of ibuprofen could lead to permanent kidney damage in babies. Other potential adverse health effects include nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, and diarrhea. Tris Pharma says it hasn’t received any reports of related health problems. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


Amazon had record profit in fourth quarter of 2018

Amazon closed 2018 with a record $3 billion in profit in the fourth quarter, running off the fuel of the holiday season to beat Wall Street expectations. But its guidance for the start of 2019 fell short. On Thursday, the retail giant announced its sales were up 20 percent in the last quarter to $72.4 billion. Amazon Web Services, the company’s cloud computing division, reported a 45 percent jump in the fourth quarter to hit $7.43 billion in sales. AWS revenue alone made up 10 percent of Amazon’s total quarterly sales — reinforcing just how dominant cloud computing has become for a company broadly thought of as an online retailer. The results also offered a full look at Amazon’s performance in 2018. For the year, net sales were up 31 percent to $232.9 billion, compared to $177.9 billion in 2017. The company said that for the first quarter of 2019, net sales are expected to fall between $56 billion and $60 billion — though some analysts had set their sights on nearly $61 billion. — WASHINGTON POST



Rates edge up

US long-term mortgage rates edged up after declining in recent weeks. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate on the benchmark 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage rose to 4.46 percent, from 4.45 percent last week. Despite the recent declines, home borrowing rates are above last year’s levels. The key 30-year rate averaged 4.22 percent a year ago. The average rate this week for 15-year, fixed-rate loans ticked up to 3.89 percent from 3.88 percent. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


US Steel headed for a big loss

US Steel Corp. headed for its biggest loss this year after the manufacturer projected lower-than-expected profit as prices slip and costs rise faster than expected in Europe. The company expects adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization of $225 million in the first quarter, US Steel said on Wednesday after the close of regular trading in New York. That compares with a $395 million average of analysts’ forecasts compiled by Bloomberg. US Steel said on a conference call with analysts Thursday that its European business “is under a lot of pressure, and that’s a big change for us.” The outlook comes on top of US-China trade tensions and slowing global economic growth that have fed concerns over demand prospects, which sent a gauge of steelmaker shares to its first annual loss in three years in 2018. — BLOOMBERG NEWS



Sales of new homes rose in November

Sales of new homes soared in November, defying higher mortgage rates. But they’re still below year-ago levels. The Commerce Department said Thursday that new home sales jumped 16.9 percent in November from the previous month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 657,000. The report was delayed by the 35-day government shutdown. Despite the healthy gain, sales remained 7.7 percent below the pace from a year ago. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


LoanDepot facing restrictions because of concerns over mortgage refinancings to veterans

LoanDepot Inc. is being punished by a government-owned mortgage guarantor amid an ongoing push to address concerns that lenders are pushing veterans to take out unnecessary mortgage refinancings. The company will be restricted from issuing bonds insured by the Department of Veterans Affairs that are intermingled with mortgages from other lenders, Ginnie Mae said Wednesday. The restrictions will take effect Feb. 1 and extend through July 1. The restrictions on the Foothill Ranch, Calif.-based company are the latest in a series of steps Ginnie Mae has taken to address concerns over predatory behavior against veterans. Over the past couple years, some lenders have rapidly churned veterans through unneeded refinances, according to Ginnie Mae and the VA. That process can increase lenders’ profits but result in fees or higher loan balances for unwitting veterans while driving up rates for other borrowers. — BLOOMBERG NEWS