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The Week
Discount chain Family Dollar has seen better days.
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Discount chain Family Dollar has seen better days.

Stocks extend their record run, delayed tax refunds hurt Family Dollar, and more in our roundup of the business stories that are making news and driving opinion

1. MARKETS EXTEND THEIR RECORD RUN
U.S. stocks continue their rise into record territory on Wednesday, as the S&P 500 pushed past its previous intraday high of 1,576. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up more than 100 points at mid-day after closing Tuesday at an all-time high of 14,673. Investors were soothed by the release of the minutes from the last Federal Reserve policy makers' meeting, which contained no depressing surprises. Stocks also got a boost from strong new economic data from the world's second largest economy, China, which reported a 14 percent rise in imports from a year ago. Analysts had expected just a 6 percent increase. [Wall Street Journal]
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2. FED OFFICIALS SEE STIMULUS LASTING THROUGH 2013
Federal Reserve policy makers are divided over how long the central bank should continue trying to stimulate the economy by buying up about $85 billion in Treasury bonds each month, according to minutes from a March meeting released on Wednesday. One member of the Fed's Open Markets Committee argued the effort to pump money into the economy should end immediately. The others think it should continue — some say until mid- to late-2013, others until the unemployment rate falls to an acceptable level. The closely guarded report wasn't due until Wednesday afternoon, but the Fed released it in the morning after discovering that someone had goofed and emailed copies to 100 congressional and trade organization staffers a day early. [MarketWatch, CNN]
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3. USPS SAYS SATURDAY DELIVERIES WILL CONTINUE
The U.S. Postal Service said Wednesday that it was dropping its plan to end Saturday delivery... for now. Customers can count on getting mail on Saturdays at least until Sept. 30, the agency's Board of Governors said. The agency had announced it would cut back most services from six days to five to save money, but Congress last month approved a temporary law to fund the government through September that specifically barred the Postal Service from cutting back on deliveries. The Postal Service lost $16 billion last year, and officials say shaving a day of deliveries will save $2 billion annually. USPS officials say they'll continue lobbying for the change. [USA Today]
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4. DUTCH RECALL BEEF AFTER DETECTING HORSEMEAT
Dutch food-safety regulators have become the latest European authorities to recall beef on suspicion that it could contain horsemeat. The Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority on Wednesday ordered wholesalers to pull 55,116 tons of beef from two Dutch trading companies off the market, saying it couldn't be certain where the meat came from, so "its safety cannot be guaranteed." The recall covers all meat delivered by the companies through February, when the horsemeat scandal exploded across Europe and the trading companies were placed under tighter supervision. Much of the meat was sold in Holland, but shipments also went to France, Germany, and Spain. [Associated Press]
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5. DELAYED TAX REFUNDS STING FAMILY DOLLAR
Family Dollar shares dropped by 1.6 percent in early trading Wednesday after the discount chain reported disappointing first-quarter earnings. The company blamed the IRS's delay in getting out tax refunds, saying it hurt sales by leaving American families short on cash. Family Dollar also warned that household budgets are likely to remain tight in the coming months, which could force people to put off purchases of clothes and other items they don't need right away. "We expected weakness and we got it," said Jefferies analyst Daniel Binder. The company's larger rival, Dollar General, had a different story last month, announcing quarterly profits that beat Wall Street's expectations. [Reuters]

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