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The U.S. trade deficit jumped nearly 19 percent in December, pushing the trade imbalance for all of 2018 to widen to a decade-long high of $621 billion. The Commerce Department says the gap between what the United States sells and what it buys from other countries rose to $59.8 billion in December from $50.3 billion in November.

Papa John's has reached a settlement agreement with founder John Schnatter that will see him step down from the pizza chain's board once an independent director that is mutually acceptable replaces him. If a new director isn't named prior to Papa John's 2019 annual shareholders meeting, Schnatter's term will expire at the meeting. Schnatter will also withdraw a lawsuit against the company.

Volkswagen's Audi luxury brand is recalling nearly 75,000 cars and SUVs in the U.S. because fuel leaks in the engine could cause fires. The recall covers certain A6, A7, and Q7 SUVs from the 2016 through 2018 model years. Also included are A8 sedans from 2015 through 2018.

Strong online sales, traffic growth in newly remodeled stores and expanded delivery options pushed Target beyond most expectations in the crucial fourth quarter, when retailers ring up holiday sales. The Minneapolis retailer reported a 31 percent spike in comparable digital sales Tuesday, and a same-store sales increase of 5.3 percent. That topped the 5 percent analysts polled by FactSet expected. Traffic grew 4.5 percent in the quarter.

An overwhelming majority of registered nurses at Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI) St. Alexius Medical Center chose to be represented by the Minnesota Nurses Association during two days of voting this week. Nurses will now begin the process of organizing their new union by electing officers and initiating negotiations for a first contract. The Minnesota Nurses Association represents 22,000 nurses in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa; and now North Dakota.

Hiring tumbled in February as U.S. employers added just 20,000 jobs, the fewest in nearly a year and a half. The Labor Department says the unemployment rate fell to 3.8 percent from 4 percent.

Minnesota added 3,800 jobs statewide during the first month of 2019, and the state’s unemployment rate increased to 3 percent, according to seasonally adjusted figures released today by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). The U.S. unemployment rate was 4.0 percent in January. December’s previously announced gain of 500 jobs was revised downward to 800 jobs lost. The state’s unemployment rate in December was also revised upward to 2.9 percent.

Footprint Earth Foundation and Saint Paul Brewing have agreed to partner in creating a new craft beer brand named "Arbeer"®. The name is a play on the word arbor (i.e. trees) and beer. A portion of the proceeds from Arbeer® will support Footprint Earth's mission to help and educate local communities to be better stewards of Earth.

Dollar Tree is closing up to 390 Family Dollar stores this year and rebranding about 200 others under the Dollar Tree name. The company closed 84 Family Dollar stores in the fourth quarter, 37 more than originally planned. The company has said that it will renovate at least 1,000 stores this year.

Evelyn Lim has been sworn in to serve as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Regional Administrator, serving the six states in HUD’s Rocky Mountain Region which includes the States of Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming. She is one of 10 HUD Regional Administrators appointed by the Trump Administration throughout the United States.

The North Dakota Department of Agriculture (NDDA) and the North Dakota Agriculture Association (NDAA) will be hosting a series of fertilizer and anhydrous ammonia safety training sessions across the state. Training sessions will include presentations on the chemical properties and health hazards of anhydrous ammonia; facility and nurse tank care, inspection, and maintenance; and regulatory updates to name a few topics.

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