U.S. job growth offers upbeat sign for weather-beaten economy
By Lucia Mutikani WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. job growth accelerated sharply in February despite the icy weather that gripped much of the nation, easing fears of an abrupt economic slowdown and keeping the Federal Reserve on track to continue reducing its monetary stimulus. Employers added 175,000 jobs to their payrolls last month after creating 129,000 new positions in January, the Labor Department said on Friday. The unemployment rate, however, rose to 6.7 percent from a five-year low of 6.6 percent as Americans flooded into the labor market to search for work. "It reinforces the case for the economy being stronger than it's looked for the last couple of months," said Bill Cheney, chief economist at John Hancock Financial Services in Boston.
The Obama administration said on Friday Verizon Communications Inc's Terremark unit will remain under contract as host of the federal website HealthCare.gov to better ensure a smooth end to Obamacare's open enrollment period on March 31. Terremark's contract with the Department of Health and Human Services was due to expire on March 30, the day before the end of open enrollment for 2014, a time when high daily volumes are expected as consumers from 36 states rush to use to website to sign up for subsidized private health insurance. It would be extended for up to seven months, according to federal documents. Hewlett-Packard Co has been named to replace Terremark as website host and operator of the department's federal data center as part of Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
By Eric Beech WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. judge has thrown out a fine by the Federal Aviation Administration against the operator of a small commercial drone, a decision that could open up the nation's skies to more unmanned-aircraft flights. The case involved a $10,000 fine levied by the FAA against Raphael Pirker for operating a drone while filming a commercial in 2011 for the University of Virginia, a violation of the agency's ban on the commercial use of unmanned aerial vehicles. Administrative law judge Patrick Geraghty dismissed the fine on Thursday and ruled that the agency's prohibition was not enforceable because it was based on a policy statement outside of the formal rule-making process. "Policy statements are not binding on the general public," Geraghty, a judge with the National Transportation Safety Board, wrote in his decision.
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