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Published on NewsOK Modified: February 27, 2015 at 5:15 pm •  Published: February 27, 2015
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As tastes change, big food makers try hipster guises

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. (AP) — At a taco shop in Southern California, milkshakes are served in mason jars and a chalkboard menu lists "The 1%er" made with lobster meat.

The logo is a pink skull and instead of buzzers, customers are given license plates so servers can identify them when bringing out orders.

Nowhere is it evident that the U.S. Taco Co. is an outpost of a chain better known for cheesy gut bombs: Taco Bell.

Major companies are testing whether it would pay to tuck away their world famous logos in favor of more hipster guises: PepsiCo, for instance, introduced a craft soda called Caleb's last year and McDonald's opened a cafe that lists lentils and eggplant on its menu. The stealth efforts reflect the pressures on the country's biggest food makers, which are contending with the surging popularity of smaller brands that position themselves as decidedly less corporate.

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US economic growth in Q4 revised down to 2.2 percent

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. economy slowed more sharply in the final three months of the year than initial estimates, reflecting weaker business stockpiling and a bigger trade deficit.

The Commerce Department said Friday that the economy as measured by the gross domestic product grew at an annual rate of 2.2 percent in the October-December quarter, weaker than the 2.6 percent first estimated last month. It marked a major slowdown from the third quarter, which had been the strongest growth in 11 years.

Economists, however, remain optimistic that the deceleration was temporary. Many forecast that growth will rise above 3 percent in 2015, which would give the country the strongest economic growth in a decade. They say the job market has healed enough to generate strong consumer spending going forward.

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'House of Cards' dealt Netflix a winning hand

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Even if it never wins another award, "House of Cards" already ranks among the most influential series in television history.

The political drama launched Netflix's expansion into original programming two years ago, a risky bet that might have toppled the Internet video service had "House of Cards" flopped and squandered its estimated $100 million investment.

Instead, the show was an immediate hit with viewers and critics, giving Netflix the financial clout and creative firepower to further transform how we watch and define "television." And it spurred other online services such as Amazon.com Inc. and Google's YouTube to spend more on their own original content to create shows that rival those produced by broadcast and cable channels.

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Cuban cigar makers anticipate big bucks from US travelers

HAVANA (AP) — Over six decades rolling premium cigars with his small, wrinkled hands, Arnaldo Alfonso has taken pride in seeing his "habanos" sampled by visiting heads of state and other dignitaries.

Now he's delighted by the idea of customers lighting them up in New York, Los Angeles and elsewhere in the United States, where Cuban cigars have been outlawed since the U.S. embargo took effect in 1962.

Cuban cigar makers are licking their chops over new U.S. rules, announced in December as part of a partial detente, allowing more Americans to travel to the island and legally bring back small quantities of the coveted stogies for the first time in decades.

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Signed contracts to buy US homes rise to 18-month high

WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of Americans signing contracts to buy homes rose at a healthy pace in January, a sign that home sales are poised to accelerate after a slow start to the year.

The National Association of Realtors said Friday that its seasonally adjusted pending home sales index increased 1.7 percent to 104.2 last month. December's figure was also revised higher to show a decline of only 1.5 percent, considerably better than a previously estimated drop of 3.7 percent.

The index is now 8.4 percent above its level one year ago and is at the highest level since August 2013.

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US consumer sentiment slips in February on icy weather

WASHINGTON (AP) — Harsh winter weather left U.S. consumers feeling a bit less confident this month, the University of Michigan says. But confidence levels still remain at the highest level in eight years.

The University of Michigan says its index of consumer sentiment slid to 95.4 in February from an 11-year high of 98.1 in January.

Overall, consumers' assessment of current economic activity and their expectations for the future both fell.

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