AP News

Business Highlights


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Obama: Americans agree with my approach on deficit

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama, laying down his marker for grueling "fiscal cliff" negotiations, said Friday that he won't accept any approach to federal deficit reduction that doesn't ask the wealthy to pay more in taxes.

Obama's spokesman said later that the president would veto any legislation extending tax cuts for families making $250,000 or more.

The president, speaking in the White House East Room, said he wasn't wedded to every detail of the plans he outlined during the election, adding, "I'm open to compromise." But he offered no indication that he was willing to back down.

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Fearing 'cliff,' investors finish brutal week

NEW YORK (AP) — Wall Street is peering over the "fiscal cliff" and experiencing vertigo.

The stock market finished one of the worst weeks of the year Friday, pushing Washington to work out a deal to avoid the tax increases and government spending cuts set to take effect Jan. 1.

Remarks by President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner on the looming deadline didn't do much to cheer the market. Stocks finished barely higher for the day.

For the week the Dow Jones industrial average fell 277 points, or 2.1 percent. The Dow is down 795 points since hitting its closing high for the year, 13,610 on Oct. 5.

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US economic growth was likely stronger in 3Q

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. economy appears to have grown over the summer faster than first thought.

U.S. companies sold more goods overseas in September, helping to narrow the nation's trade gap substantially. And wholesale companies boosted their stockpiles after reporting their best sales in 18 months.

Those figures could lead the government to sharply revise its estimate of the economy's growth rate in the July-September quarter, up from the 2 percent annual rate estimated last month.

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J.C. Penney reports hefty 3Q loss

NEW YORK (AP) — J.C. Penney Co. is hoping it has finally hit rock bottom.

The bad news keeps getting worse for the struggling department-store chain that on Friday reported a wider third-quarter loss than Wall Street expected on a nearly 27-percent drop in revenue. That marks the third consecutive quarter of big losses and sales declines as customers continue to show that they're unhappy with Penney's decision this year to ditch hundreds of coupons and annual sales in favor of everyday low pricing.

The poor results underscore the challenges facing Penney CEO Ron Johnson, the former Apple Inc. executive who was brought in a year ago to turn around the struggling retailer. Since then Johnson, who masterminded Apple's popular retail stores, has been working to change everything at Penney's, from its stores to its merchandise.

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After 3 bumpy years, Europe turns corner on crisis

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — The worst of Europe's financial crisis appears to be over.

European leaders have taken steps to ease the panic that has plagued the region for three turbulent years. Financial markets are no longer in a state of emergency over Europe's high government debts and weak banks. And this gives politicians from the 17 countries that use the euro some breathing room to fix their remaining problems.

Threats remain in Greece and Spain, and Europe's economy is forecast to get worse before it gets better. But an imminent breakup of the euro now seems unlikely, analysts say.

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IAG to cut 4,500 jobs in Iberia restructuring

LONDON (AP) — International Airlines Group warned on Friday that its Spanish carrier Iberia was "in a fight for survival" and unveiled a restructuring plan to cut 4,500 jobs as it reported a drop in third-quarter profit.

Iberia CEO Rafael Sanchez-Lozano said the carrier is losing money in all its markets and was "burning €1.7 million ($2.17 million) every day."

IAG, which was formed in early 2011 by the merger of British Airways and Iberia, has given the Spanish unions a Jan. 31 deadline to reach agreement on job cuts. If one hasn't been reached by then, the company warned there will be deeper cuts and a more radical reduction in Iberia's operations.

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MoneyGram agrees to settle scam charges

DALLAS (AP) — MoneyGram said Friday that it will set up a $100 million compensation fund as part of a settlement of government allegations of fraud through money-transfer scams from 2003 to 2009.

Under terms of the deal with the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania and the Justice Department, MoneyGram International Inc. said it has also taken other steps to prevent more scams. These include adding more investigators and beefing up technology to detect fraud.

The payment services provider said it has ended relationships with agents suspected of masterminding the fraud. It said it has also overhauled its corporate compliance program and began a new training program for agents to better sniff out and report scams.

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Chrysler to recall 919,000 SUVs to fix air bags

DETROIT (AP) — Chrysler is recalling more than 919,000 older-model Jeep Grand Cherokee and Liberty SUVs worldwide because the air bags can inflate while people are driving the vehicles.

The recall affects Grand Cherokees from the 2002 through 2004 model years and Libertys from 2002 and 2003, according to documents posted Friday on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website.

The safety agency said that a part can fail in the air bag control computer, and the front and side air bags can inflate while the SUVs are being driven. An agency investigation that began last year found that the air bags went off 215 times, causing 81 minor injuries. No crashes were reported, but NHTSA said the problem could cause a wreck.

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China's factory output rises in sign of recovery

BEIJING (AP) — China's auto sales, consumer spending and factory output improved in October in a new sign of economic recovery as the Communist Party prepared to install a new generation of leaders.

Growth in factory output accelerated to 9.6 percent over a year earlier from the previous month's 9.2 percent, the government reported Friday. Retail sales rose 14.5 percent, up from September's 14.2 percent.

Also in October, inflation eased further, giving Beijing more room to cut interest rates or launch new stimulus measures to speed a recovery with less danger of igniting politically dangerous price rises.

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ING plans $100 million IPO of US investment business

Dutch bank ING Groep NV will hold an initial public offering of stock to spin off its U.S.-based retirement, investment and insurance business, the company said Friday.

ING expects the sale to raise about $100 million by selling shares of ING U.S. Inc., it said in a public filing. The shares are expected to trade on a U.S. exchange. The filing was preliminary, so the size of the offering may change and many details were not available.

ING U.S. will use the proceeds of the stock offering to strengthen its balance sheet, so that it can survive as a standalone company.

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By The Associated Press(equals)

The Dow Jones industrial average finished up 4.07 points at 12,815.39. The S&P advanced 2.34 points to 1,379.85, and the Nasdaq composite gained 9.29 points to 2,904.87.

Benchmark crude rose 98 cents to finish at $86.07 a barrel. Brent crude, used to price international varieties of oil, rose $2.15 to end at $109.40 on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

Heating oil rose 5 cents to finish at $3.01 a gallon. Wholesale gasoline rose 9 cents to end at $2.70 a gallon. Natural gas slipped 11 cents to finish at $3.50 per 1,000 cubic feet.


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