Business Highlights

Business Highlights

Associated Press

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Reasons holiday shoppers will spend cautiously

All signs point to a successful holiday shopping season: falling gas prices, soaring stock market and unemployment at a six-year-low. Yet retailers are fighting to get shoppers into stores.

Why? Five years into the economic recovery, most Americans still are struggling.

Americans are paying more for food, health care and other costs. Wage growth has been stagnant. And when they do shop, Americans are looking for the deal.

Not that this holiday season is expected to be a dud. In fact, the National Retail Federation forecasts holiday sales will grow 4.1 percent to $616.9 billion. But retailers have already started deep discounting to get shoppers into stores.

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Weak consumer, business demand may slow US growth

WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. consumers and businesses spent cautiously last month, a sign that strong growth during the spring and summer may decelerate in the final three months of the year.

The figures released Wednesday were a mild disappointment after data the previous day showed the economy had expanded at the fastest pace in over a decade in the second and third quarters.

Consumers opened their wallets a bit in October, boosting their spending by a lukewarm 0.2 percent. That was only slightly better than September's flat reading. Incomes rose just 0.2 percent, matching September's increase.

Businesses also cut back on orders for industrial machinery, computers and other equipment, a sign that business investment spending may slow in the October-December quarter.

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In Britain, US turkey dinner is big for business

LONDON (AP) -- Thanksgiving isn't a holiday in Britain, but you might be forgiven for being fooled these days.

There are so many Americans in Britain that dozens of businesses have started selling the goods they need to celebrate.

About 200,000 U.K. residents were born in the U.S., according to census data. That's 26 percent more than in 2001. And since there's no other holiday quite like Thanksgiving, businesses big and small are finding ways to get in on the celebrations with turkey and the trimmings for sale.

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FBI data show thousands of gun sales beat checks

BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. (AP) -- More gun sales than ever are slipping through the federal background check system — 186,000 last year, a rate of 512 gun sales a day, as states fail to consistently provide thorough, real-time updates on criminal and mental histories to the FBI.

At no time of year is this problem more urgent. This Friday opens the busiest season for gun purchases, when requests for background checks speed up to nearly two a second, testing the limits of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS.

The stakes are high: In the U.S., there are already nine guns for every 10 people, and someone is killed with a firearm every 16 minutes. Mass shootings are happening every few weeks.

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US agency threatens to act against air bag maker

DETROIT (AP) -- A dispute between U.S. safety regulators and air bag maker Takata Corp. escalated Wednesday when the government threatened fines and legal action if the company fails to admit that driver's air bag inflators are defective and to agree to a nationwide recall.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the Japanese company until Tuesday to file paperwork declaring a defect and expand the recall from high-humidity states to the full nation. The letter is the first step in a legal process to compel a nationwide recall.

The company's air bags have been blamed for at least five deaths and multiple injuries worldwide. They can inflate with too much force, blowing apart a mental canister and spewing shrapnel.

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Ohio bill seeks extra retail pay on Thanksgiving

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- A lawmaker in Ohio wants stores in the state to pay triple wages for employees who work on Thanksgiving. The effort comes as Macy's, the holiday's quintessential retailer, is allowing its workers to choose whether to work that day.

Both are attempts to counter frustration among workers and their families over holiday store hours that have expanded into the holiday.

State Rep. Mike Foley, a Democrat from Cleveland, said his bill would allow employees to bow out of the holiday shift without job sanctions while protecting family time from excessive consumerism.

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See Spot relax: Pet massage gaining popularity

PHOENIX (AP) -- Spa treatments don't stop with people. You won't see any aromatherapy candles around, but animals get massages, too, and it's become a regular service that many pet owners value as more than just glorified petting.

Practitioners say massage can be a preventive measure for younger animals and rehabilitative for older ones by boosting flexibility, circulation and immunity.

As its popularity continues to grow, primarily among dog and horse owners, so does the debate about regulation. Some veterinarians argue that pet massage is a form of veterinary medicine that requires a license, but whether therapists need one varies by state. The issue has sparked a lawsuit in Arizona, where three practitioners are suing the state veterinarian licensing board.

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Deere dips on shaky outlook for fiscal 2015

NEW YORK (AP) -- Deere's fourth-quarter results were stronger than Wall Street expected but it says its farm equipment sales and profits will keep falling in its new fiscal year as the sector remains weak.

The world's biggest farm equipment supplier says its annual net income will drop about 40 percent and revenue from agricultural and turf equipment will fall further than it did in fiscal 2014.

Falling commodity prices and lower farm income are hurting companies like Deere & Co.

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EU proposes $380 billion investment plan

BRUSSELS (AP) -- The European Union's executive has proposed a plan to boost investment in the bloc's flagging economy by 315 billion euros ($380 billion) by attracting reluctant private investors with guarantees and seed money. Experts warn, however, it alone will not be enough to restart growth.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said Wednesday that the long-awaited plan will use 21 billion euros in money from EU institutions to entice spending on projects in education, transport, the digital economy and the environment. Juncker estimated that every euro invested in the three-year scheme could attract private and public investment of about 15 euros.

The Commission said the plan would create up to 1.3 million jobs to help alleviate high unemployment, which has been hovering around record rates in the EU since the financial crisis.

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones Industrial average rose 12.81 points, or 0.07 percent, to 17,827.75. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 5.80 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,072.83. The Nasdaq rose 29.07 points, or 0.6 percent, to 4,787.32.

Benchmark U.S. crude fell 40 cents to close at $73.69 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, fell 58 cents to close at $77.75 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London. In other energy futures trading, wholesale gasoline rose 0.3 cent to close at $2.035 a gallon. Heating oil rose 0.2 cent to close at $2.397 a gallon. Natural gas fell 4.8 cents to close at $4.355 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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