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BUSINESS TODAY

TRADE DEFICIT RISES TO RECORD: America's trade deficit widened to a record $30.2-billion in March as a record foreign oil bill over-whelmed a rebound in American exports of farm products and autos. The Commerce Depart-ment reported that the overall deficit increased by 5.1 percent from a revised February figure of $28.7-billion. A strong 2.9 percent rise in exports to $87.3-billion, the highest level on record, was negated by a 3.5 percent rise in imports, which also set a record at $117.4-billion.

NEW BANK PLANNED FOR PORT RICHEY: Organizers of a new community bank in Port Richey have begun raising at least $5-million in capital with the goal of opening by early August. The start-up, called Gulfstream Community Bank, is headed by Philip Chesnut, former president and chief executive of Citizens National Bank in Port Richey. Chesnut said the bank board has pledged $2.2-million to the venture, and the remainder is to be raised through a public offering launched two weeks ago. Gulfstream last January received preliminary approval to form a federally chartered stock savings bank.

CRUISE LINE TARGETS EUROPEAN TRAVELERS: Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. is teaming with British tour operator First Choice Holidays to create a new cruise line targeting the largely untapped European market. Each company will pay $50-million to fund the venture. Beginning next year, the vessel will begin sailing out of the Mediterranean in summer and the Caribbean in winter.

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