AP News

Business Highlights


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Black Friday creeps into Thanksgiving permanently?

This season appears to mark the end of Black Friday as we know it.

For decades, stores have opened their doors in wee hours of the morning on the day after Thanksgiving known as Black Friday. But this year, that changed when major chains from Target to Toys R Us opened on Thanksgiving itself, turning the traditional busiest shopping day of the year into a two-day affair.

That meant some shoppers could head straight from the dinner table to stores on Turkey Day. Others who wanted to fall into a turkey-induced slumber could still head out to stores early on Black Friday. Stores were able to attract both groups by offering door buster sales from $179 40-inch flat-screen TVs to $10 jeans at different times of the day.

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Why must we buy? Black Friday's powerful pull

BEAVER FALLS, Pa. (AP) — Gravy was still warm. Dallas Cowboys were still in uniform. Thanks were still being given across the country as the pilgrimages to the stores began, heralding a new era of American consumerism.

Lured by earlier-than-ever Black Friday sales, people left Grandma and Grandpa in search of Samsung and Toshiba. They did not go blindly: In dozens of interviews, people acknowledged how spending has become inseparable from the holidays. Older folks pined for the days of Erector Sets and Thumbelinas while in line to pay iPad prices. Even some younger shoppers said it felt wrong to be spending money instead of quality time on Thanksgiving.

"But we're still out here," said Kelly Jackson, a paralegal who was standing inside a Best Buy store in the Pittsburgh suburbs, a 32-inch television ($189) in her cart. It was a consolation prize: Despite four hours on line, she missed the cheaper 40-inchers ($179) that she had heard about while listening to Internet radio.

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Wal-Mart workers and supporters launch protests

Wal-Mart workers and supporters are protesting at a number of stores nationwide, blasting the wages, benefits and treatment of employees of the world's largest retailer.

The efforts on Thursday and Friday seemed to do little to keep shoppers away though — the company said it was their best Black Friday ever.

A union-backed group called OUR Walmart says it held an estimated 1000 protests in 46 states. The exact number is unclear. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has refuted the estimate, saying the union has grossly exaggerated its figure and that the protests involved few of its own employees.

The protests and walkouts were scheduled to culminate during the key holiday shopping weekend.

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EU summit ends without budget deal

BRUSSELS (AP) — A summit of the European Union's 27 national leaders, charged with agreeing on a long-term budget for the bloc, broke up Friday afternoon without being able to reach a deal.

Coming just days after the 17 eurogroup finance ministers failed, yet again, to agree on the conditions for releasing badly needed bailout money for Greece, the failure of the two-day summit raises questions about how the bloc makes important decisions. In most cases, unanimity is required, meaning that each country wields veto power.

The EU's top officials, who put in long hours trying to soften up the national leaders individually before putting them together in the same meeting room, tried to put a brave face on the budget deadlock.

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Ranbaxy recalls generic Lipitor doses

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Ranbaxy Pharmaceuticals Inc. has recalled dozens of lots of its generic version of cholesterol drug Lipitor because some may contain tiny glass particles, the latest in a string of manufacturing deficiencies that once led U.S. regulators to bar imports of the Indian company's medicines.

Ranbaxy, a subsidiary of Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd., India's biggest drugmaker, is operating under increased scrutiny from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration because of quality lapses at multiple Ranbaxy factories over the past several years. The FDA also has alleged the company lied about test results for more than two dozen of its generic drugs several years ago.

On Friday, Ranbaxy posted a notice on its U.S. website, saying it's recalling 10-, 20- and 40-milligram doses of tablets of atorvastatin calcium. That's generic Lipitor, the cholesterol fighter that reigned for years as the world's top-selling drug.

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Wal-Mart suspends India staff in corruption probe

MUMBAI, India (AP) — Wal-Mart's Indian joint venture said Friday that it has suspended several employees as part of an internal corruption investigation, another blow to the U.S. company's plans for aggressive expansion in a giant market that is largely untapped by foreign retailers.

Bharti Walmart, Wal-Mart's joint venture with India's Bharti Enterprises, said it had suspended "a few associates" and was "committed to conducting a complete and thorough investigation." India's Economic Times newspaper reported that the company's chief financial officer was among the five employees suspended, a claim the company declined to verify.

The news comes at a sensitive time for foreign retailers in India, where corruption scandals in everything from telecommunications to coal mining have badly damaged the ruling Congress Party. Eager to rekindle foreign investment, the Congress Party eased foreign investment rules in September, paving the way for Wal-Mart and others — which had been limited to wholesaling — to run retail shops with a local partner.

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APNewsBreak: Corps cuts flow on Missouri River

ST. LOUIS (AP) — The Army Corps of Engineers on Friday began reducing the flow from a Missouri River reservoir, a move expected to worsen low water conditions on the Mississippi River and potentially bring barge traffic to a halt within weeks.

One result of this year's drought, the worst in decades, has been a big drop in water levels on both the Mississippi and Missouri rivers.

The Corps of Engineers office in Omaha, Neb., announced earlier this month plans to reduce the outflow from the Gavins Point Dam near Yankton, S.D. Corps spokeswoman Monique Farmer told The Associated Press that the reduction began as scheduled Friday morning. By late-morning, the flow that had started at 37,500 cubic feet per second had been cut to 35,500 cubic feet per second.

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Research In Motion shares climb

TORONTO (AP) — Shares of Research in Motion Ltd. jumped nearly 14 percent Friday as investors seemingly grew more optimistic about a February launch of the Canadian company's much-delayed BlackBerry 10 smartphones.

RIM will release the latest version of its smartphone "not too long" after a Jan. 30 launch event, Kristian Tear, the company's chief operating officer, has said.

The new phones are seen as critical to RIM's survival as the smartphone pioneer struggles in North America to hold on to customers who are abandoning BlackBerrys for flashier iPhones and Android phones.

RIM shares on the Nasdaq closed up $1.41, or nearly 14 percent, to $11.67 Friday in an abbreviated trading session on Wall Street.

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By The Associated Press(equals)

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 172.79, or 1.4 percent, to 13,009.69. The S&P 500 added 18.12, or 1.3 percent, to 1409.15. The Nasdaq ended up 40.30 points, or 1.4 percent, at 2,966.85.

Benchmark crude ended the trading day up 90 cents to $88.28 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent, which is used to price international varieties of oil, was up 83 cents to $111.38 a barrel.

Wholesale gasoline lost nearly 6 cents to end at $2.7439 a gallon. Natural gas lost 0.2 cents to end at $3.901 per 1,000 cubic feet. Heating oil was up 5 cents to end at $3.0771 a gallon.


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