CNN Money: Top business headlines for March 18

    6:09 AM, Mar 18, 2013   |    comments
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    NEW YORK (CNN) -- CNN Money's Stacey Delikat has your top business and financial news on this Monday, March 18.

    Entergy residential rates to decrease 4.75 percent in April
    No fooling: Entergy Arkansas Inc. recently announced its residential rates will decrease by 4.75 percent on April 1. According to a company news release, an average Entergy residential bill for a customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity is $101.31, excluding taxes. After the rider is reduced, the same customer's bill will be $96.50. The rate drop ties into a "fuel and purchased power cost" adjustment the company files with the Arkansas Public Service Commission each spring. 

    Federal worker pay freeze likely to be extended
    Federal government workers just can't catch a break. It's looking pretty likely that the two-year pay freeze -- that was expiring at the end of this month -- is going to be extended again through Dec. 31. Workers had been hoping to see a small bump in their pay by 0.5% next month, as ordered by President Obama last August. But the Senate this week started debating a bipartisan deal that would fund government through the end of September. The deal would keep in place a freeze on federal workers' cost-of-living increases by another 9 months.  

    After mishaps, Carnival to boost spending on repairs 
    Power and safety upgrades will cause Carnival Corp. CCL -2.18% to spend about twice as much on maintenance in the coming year as it historically had, the cruise-ship company's finance chief said Friday. "The fleet has gotten a little bit older" and the company will be "clearly spending more" on upkeep, David Bernstein said on a quickly convened conference call to discuss quarterly results. The results were moved up as Carnival confronts recent mechanical problems on three of its ships. 

    Free downloads of 'Da Vinci Code' to promote 'Inferno'
    How about this for a promotional thriller: Beginning Monday, on the 10th anniversary of the release of the mega-bestseller "The Da Vinci Code," its publisher, Doubleday, will allow anyone to download the entire book free for a week. The move is part celebration and part marketing experiment, because the download will come with the prologue and one chapter of Dan Brown's forthcoming book, "Inferno." It is common for publishers to tease an author's coming thriller by including the first chapter of the next book in the back of the paperback version of a best seller.

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