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Last Update on May 05, 2015 07:28 GMT

ECONOMY-THE DAY AHEAD

WASHINGTON (AP) --Some big earnings and economic reports are due out today. Later this morning, the Commerce Department will release its international trade data for March. In February, the U.S. trade deficit-- the amount by which the value of imports exceeds the value of exports-- fell almost 17 percent to $35 billion. Also this morning, the Institute for Supply Management will release its service sector index for April. In March, U.S. service firms expanded at a slightly slower pace than the month before and the service index slipped to 56.5, though any reading over 50 signals expansion in economic activity.

Freddie Mac and Walt Disney will report their quarterly financial results before the market opens.

FEDERAL RESERVE-LEAK PROBE

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen is disclosing that she met with a financial analyst at the center of an investigation into a possible leak of confidential interest-rate information. But she says the meeting occurred several months before the private Fed discussions at issue took place, and dealt with general economic matters.

The information came in a letter Monday from Yellen to senior House Republicans who are investigating whether market-sensitive information was deliberately leaked from the Fed's interest-rate policy meeting in September 2012.

The lawmakers had requested the names of Fed officials and staff who had contact with the analyst's firm, Medley Global Advisors, from June through October 2012. Yellen said several names were provided confidentially to the staff of House Financial Services Committee, and that hers is on the list.

GULF OIL SPILL-MEXICAN STATES

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- A federal appeals court has upheld a lower court's dismissal of a lawsuit against BP and other companies by three Mexican states over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal upheld a 2013 district court ruling.

The courts held that, because Mexico's federal government owns the affected property, the states -- Veracruz, Tamaulipas and Quintana Roo -- don't have standing to file the suit.

The opinion, dated May 1, notes that that the Mexican federal government filed a similar lawsuit, which is progressing through the court system.

The ruling said the 2010 suit sought alleged damages or future damages, including oil spill response costs and harm to sea life and shorelines.

A BP spokesman said the company was pleased with the ruling.

GAS DRILLING-WATER CONTAMINATION

UNDATED (AP) -- A new study says toxic fluids used in drilling and hydraulic fracturing likely escaped an unlined borehole and migrated thousands of feet into residential drinking-water wells in Pennsylvania.

At least three wells were contaminated with dangerous levels of methane and other substances in 2010. The incident was one of several involving Chesapeake Energy that prompted state regulators to levy a record $1 million fine against the driller.

Penn State University researchers say they detected minute amounts of a chemical compound often found in drilling and fracking fluids. Their study was published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study does not implicate the fracking technique itself. Researchers say the toxic fluid probably escaped the gas well while it was being drilled.

US-HOLCIM-LAFARGE-FTC

NEW YORK (AP) -- U.S. antitrust regulators say Holcim and Lafarge agreed to sell assets including cement plants and transportation assets to complete their merger, which will make the world's largest cement company.

The Federal Trade Commission says the combination of the two companies would have reduced competition for portland cement, a component of concrete, in many U.S. markets. It also would have reduced competition for a specialty type of cement called slag cement.

Lafarge will sell its Continental Cement business along with a cement plant, a quarry and some distribution assets, while Holcim will sell several cement plants and distribution terminals.

Holcim Ltd. is based in Switzerland and Lafarge SA is based in France. The companies hope to combine in July. Together they will have about $34 billion in annual revenue.

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