Business Highlights

Business Highlights

Associated Press

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Fed ends bond buying and cites brighter job market

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Federal Reserve cited an improving economy Wednesday as it ended its landmark bond-buying program and pointed to gains in the job market — a key condition for an eventual interest rate hike.

The Fed did reiterate its plan to maintain its benchmark short-term rate near zero "for a considerable time." Most economists predict it won't raise that rate, which affects many consumer and business loans, before mid-2015.

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What is Orbital Sciences?

NEW YORK (AP) -- NASA pays it billions. Its rockets sport mythical names like Minotaur and Pegasus. And its $2 billion deal to resupply the International Space Station had gone well — until this week.

Aerospace company Orbital Sciences Corp. suffered a big failure late Tuesday when one of its unmanned rocket bound for the station exploded moments after liftoff. That rocket was Orbital's newest model, Antares, which had its first mission in 2013.

The launch pad failure is a setback for a company with a 30-year history in private spaceflight, including 42 successful missions on its Pegasus small-payload rockets since 1990. The explosion also comes at a delicate time for the company, which is closing a $5 billion merger with defense contractor ATK.

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Small business divided over minimum wage votes

NEW YORK (AP) -- Workers in five states could get a raise after Election Day.

Some small business owners say raising the minimum wage will pressure their companies, forcing them to cut employees' hours or jobs. Others say it's the right thing to do for workers and the economy.

Minimum wage referendums are on Tuesday's ballots in Alaska, Arkansas, Illinois, Nebraska and South Dakota, where minimums range from $6.25 to $8.25 an hour. Some small business owners say raising the minimum wage will force them to cut employees' hours or jobs. Higher minimums were already approved this year in 10 states, the District of Columbia and Seattle.

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Fiat Chrysler to spin off luxury brand Ferrari

MILAN (AP) -- Fiat Chrysler Automobiles announced Wednesday it will spin off sports car maker Ferrari into a separate company, a move to unlock the luxury brand's value and distinguish it from its mass-market parent.

The spinoff aims to raise money to support the newly merged carmaker's plans to invest $61 billion over five years to compete with global giants Toyota and Volkswagen.

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Review: CBS streaming not worth cutting cord, yet

NEW YORK (AP) -- I dropped my cable TV service more than a year ago and have been relying on Netflix, Hulu and other services to fill my television needs. But I get my shows at least a day late. With CBS' new All Access streaming service, I can watch shows right when they air.

But is it worth $6 a month? The service is a good start. But the network needs to do more to make it worth the money — especially as HBO and other channels start to compete for online dollars.

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AP IMPACT: US health care unprepared for Ebola

The U.S. health care apparatus is so unprepared and short on resources to deal with the deadly Ebola virus that even small clusters of cases could overwhelm parts of the system, according to an Associated Press review of readiness at hospitals and other components of the emergency medical network.

Experts broadly agree that a widespread outbreak across the country is extremely unlikely, but they also concur that it is impossible to predict with certainty, since previous Ebola epidemics have been confined to remote areas of Africa.

And Ebola is not the only possible danger that causes concern; experts say other deadly infectious diseases — ranging from airborne viruses such as SARS, to an unforeseen new strain of the flu, to more exotic plagues like Lassa fever — could crash the health care system.

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Health care overhaul doubts ease for insurers

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- What a difference a year makes.

The nation's biggest health insurers entered last fall cautious about a major coverage expansion initiated by the health care overhaul, the federal law that aims to cover millions of uninsured people.

Investors and company executives were worried because they didn't know how expensive new customers from the overhaul would be for insurers. They also were concerned about added costs from the law and funding cuts to government-sponsored Medicare Advantage plans, a key growth area.

But a year later, these challenges are starting to appear manageable, and investors see much less uncertainty ahead for the sector. Insurers have cut costs and raised prices to help mitigate added expenses from the law. They've also added new business.

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World Bank: China needs reform, not growth targets

BEIJING (AP) -- China's growth could decline to close to 7 percent next year but Beijing should focus on overhauling its economy instead of trying to stick to official growth targets, the World Bank said Wednesday.

To avoid a sharper slowdown, Beijing needs to promote competition and efficiency by reforming its labor and real estate markets and its state-run financial system, the Washington-based lender said in a report.

Trying to stick to short-term official targets might set that back by prompting officials to pump credit into the economy and disrupt the development of markets, said the report's chief author, economist Karlis Smits.

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones Industrial average fell 31.44 points, or 0.2 percent, to 16,974.31. The S&P 500 fell 2.75 points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,982.30 The Nasdaq composite fell 15.07 points, or 0.3 percent, to 4,549.23.

Benchmark U.S. oil rose 78 cents to $82.20 a barrel. Brent crude, the global benchmark, gained $1.09 to $87.12 a barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline rose 2.5 cents to $2.221 a gallon. Heating oil added 4.2 cents to $2.535 a gallon. Natural gas jumped 7.9 cents to $3.728 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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