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Wednesday's Daily Pulse

Defying national trend, Floridians' confidence up

Surprisingly, Floridians seem to be shrugging off higher payroll taxes and new cuts to federal spending. The latest numbers from the University of Florida’s consumer-confidence index showed a small gain, even as a national barometer recorded renewed worry among consumers who have been facing higher gas prices, higher deductions from their paychecks and seemingly endless headlines about cutbacks from Washington. More from the Miami Herald, the Ocala Star-Banner and the Tampa Bay Times.

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Column: Time to clean up small-business expenses

Costs can creep up through the years, so it’s worthwhile to canvass, compare, call. Do your research. Then get on the phone to see what kind of deals you can negotiate with your existing suppliers or their competitors. It’s spring, time for the annual ritual of spring cleaning your small-business expenses. [Source: Florida Today]

Study: Health overhaul to increase cost in Florida

Medical claims costs — the biggest driver of health insurance premiums — could jump more than 20 percent for Floridian's individual policies under the federal health overhaul, according to a study by the nation's leading group of financial risk analysts. [Source: AP]

Florida flexes political muscle

Florida is finally flexing a little political muscle. After 168 years of seeing their politicians play only minor roles on the national stage, Floridians suddenly have legitimate presidential contenders, an influential national party leader and key voices shaping national policy in both major parties. [Source: Sarasota Herald-Tribune]

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› SeaWorld Entertainment's profit soars
Annual profit soared more than 300 percent last year at Orlando-based SeaWorld Entertainment Inc., even as the company weighs a possible public stock offering later this spring. The owner of SeaWorld and Busch Gardens theme parks said it earned $77.4 million in 2012, according to updated regulatory filings, more than triple the $19.1 million it made in 2011.

› Housing bust damage to last through 2019
The housing market’s rebound continues to gain momentum. And while the latest numbers continue to look good for homeowners — and perhaps motivating for would-buyers sitting on the fence — the long view continues to show a stunning collapse in what was once among the hottest real estate markets in the world.

› FGCU could mean big economic boost for southwest Florida
The Eagle's win is the single biggest thing to happen to FGCU since it opened 22 years ago. And the opportunity for southwest Florida to profit from it is enormous.

› Tampa Bay a finalist for college football title game
Tampa is one of two finalists to host Division I college football's first championship game in its four-team playoff format, a Bowl Championship Series official confirmed Tuesday. The 2015 title game will be the first under a new four-team playoff to determine the national championship.

Go to page 2 for more stories ...

› Punta Gorda Airport to sue FAA
Airport leaders in Punta Gorda, Naples and other cities facing the loss of air traffic control service are threatening to sue to keep the government from shuttering towers beginning early next month.

› Bankrupt gold dealer Yaffe's Avila megamansion now half price
The most expensive mansion in Tampa Bay just got a little cheaper. The price for disgraced gold dealer Mark Yaffe's opulent megamansion dropped last week to $12.9 million, half off from when it first hit the market in 2008.

› Florida East Coast Railway expands 'heritage' paint scheme
More than five of Florida East Coast Railway’s engines by 2014 will sport the “heritage” paint scheme of bright red-orange and mustard, a nod to Henry Flagler’s legacy.

› Initiative wants to make Little Havana more pedestrian friendly
The Miami-Dade Safe Routes to Age in Place is a partnership between the Health Foundation of South Florida, Urban Health Partnerships and the Cuban American National Council. It’s based on the Safe Routes to School program, which focused on encouraging children to walk to school.