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MID-DAY UPDATE: Gas prices push up American spending, JPMorgan reports $5.5 billion in profits

Here are today's top headlines from the Marketplace Morning Report and from around the web.

Americans spent more money in March -- the ninth month in a row retail sales have risen. But the slight increase was driven in large part by higher gasoline prices.

We're expecting an announcement today from American Express that it will be the lead investor in a startup called Payfone. The company wants to make money by allowing consumers to pay for things using their mobile phone numbers.

The EU's competition watchdog says it is fining Procter & Gamble and Unilever a total of $456 million for fixing prices for powdered laundry detergent together with Henkel in eight EU countries.

JPMorgan Chase beat Wall Street expectations this morning when it reported it made $5.5 billion in profit last quarter. That's because the bank isn't putting aside as much money to cover for consumers not paying back credit card debt.

Denim maker Levi Strauss said its profit was down 27 percent in its last three months.

Applications for U.S. home mortgages fell last week to their lowest level since January as interest rates pushed higher, an industry group said Wednesday.

China has released new restrictions concerning programming on television and it's targeting time travel. TV censors there say dramas depicting characters going back in time "lack positive thoughts and meaning," which isn't really a ringing endorsement from the Chinese government. So, for now anyway, if you're going to China and want to see a show like, say, "Quantum Leap" or a movie like "Back to the Future," you best build your own Flux Capacitor and send yourself back to before the guidelines were put into effect.

To the well-known floor of the New York Stock Exchange which -- thanks to computerized trading -- is becoming less of a trading floor and more of a TV set every day. Well now the NYSE is renovating so it can be more attractive to party planners. It wants to double the number of events that are held there to 1,000 a year. It appears the market has spoken and it's saying bye-bye blue chips, hello chips and dip.

You can read the rest of today's stories from the Marketplace Morning Report here.

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