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Local GM plant makes bi-fuel trucks

General Motors Co. announced Thursday that local workers have started building bi-fuel pickups at the Allen County assembly plant.

The 2013 Chevrolet Silverado HD and GMC Sierra 2500 HD bi-fuel vehicles run on gasoline or compressed natural gas and seamlessly switch between the two. The fuel tanks have a combined range of 650 miles. The fuel system meets all Environmental Protection Agency emission certification requirements.

The pickups are available in standard and long-box and two- or four-wheel drive in the extended cab models. The bi-fuel option is priced at $11,000 above the suggested retail price of the base vehicle.

Bi-fuel trucks can be ordered through Chevrolet and GMC dealers, officials said. GM expects to sell the vehicles to the general public and to large companies that maintain vehicle fleets.

US trade deficit dips to 2-year low

The U.S. trade deficit declined to the lowest level in nearly two years because exports rose to a record high. The gain may not last, given the global economic slowdown.

Still, the narrower trade deficit could lead the government to revise its July-September economic growth estimate slightly higher than the 2 percent annual rate reported last month.

That’s because U.S. companies earned more from overseas sales while consumers and businesses spent less on foreign products.

The deficit narrowed to $41.5 billion in September, the Commerce Department said Thursday. That is 5.1 percent below the August deficit and the smallest imbalance since December 2010.

Exports climbed 3.1 percent to an all-time high of $187 billion. Imports rose 1.5 percent to $228.5 billion.

JPMorgan gets OK for stock buyback

JPMorgan Chase said Thursday that it has won approval from the Federal Reserve to start buying back its own stock.

The bank suspended the plan in May, after it revealed a surprise trading loss that grew to more than $6 billion.

The bank said in a regulatory filing that the Fed gave the OK this week. The plan calls for JPMorgan to buy back $3 billion of its stock in the first three months of next year.

Buybacks are popular because they increase a company’s earnings per share for the stock still held by the public. Companies also use them to compensate for shares of stock given employees.

Jobless aid site to be offline briefly

Uplink, Indiana’s online system people use to apply for unemployment, will be unavailable during scheduled maintenance rthis weekend.

The service will be down from 1 a.m. Saturday to 4 p.m. Sunday. Additionally, state offices will be closed Monday for Veterans Day. Unemployed Hoosiers may file vouchers from 4 p.m. Sunday through 7 p.m. Monday to have eligible benefits paid Tuesday.

Jobless claims fall, but officials unfazed

The number of people seeking unemployment benefits fell last week by 8,000 to a seasonally adjusted 355,000, a possible sign of a healing job market. But officials cautioned that the figures were distorted by Superstorm Sandy.

The Labor Department said Thursday that the four-week average of applications, a less volatile measure, rose by 3,250 to 370,500.

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