Business Highlights

Business Highlights

Associated Press

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Dow, S&P 500 push further into record territory

U.S. stocks capped a week that already had several record highs by delivering a couple more.

The Dow Jones industrial average and Standard & Poor's 500 index carved out all-time highs on Friday, extending the market's gains for the week. It was the third record close for the Dow in the week and the fourth for the S&P 500.

The latest records extended a comeback in the S&P 500, which has increased 11 percent since plunging in mid-October.

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China unexpectedly cuts rates to support economy

BEIJING (AP) -- China's central bank unexpectedly slashed interest rates on Friday to re-energize the world's No. 2 economy, joining a growing list of major economies that are trying to encourage growth in the face of a global slowdown. On top of the rate cut, Chinese authorities promised to inject credit into the financial system if needed.

The slowdown in global growth is becoming an increasing concern for policymakers. Japan confirmed this week that it has fallen back into recession and will delay a tax increase to help consumer spending.

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ECB head willing to step up stimulus

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) -- European Central Bank head Mario Draghi says the eurozone's chief monetary authority is willing to increase its efforts to stimulate the struggling economy.

The comments fed market expectations for more central bank action, sending the euro lower and stocks higher.

The ECB has already lowered its benchmark interest rate to near zero and started purchasing bonds made up of bank loans to companies, an effort to boost lending and economic activity. Draghi said the bank could alter the size, pace and composition of the purchases.

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CEOs in 10 big mergers to get $430M: Equilar study

NEW YORK (AP) -- This year's flurry of corporate mergers may not pay off for shareholders in the long run, but the bosses at these companies will do just fine.

CEOs who've decided to sell in the 10 biggest U.S. deals this year are set to rake in an estimated $430 million in "golden parachute" payments, according to a study done by pay-tracking firm Equilar.

The payoffs are usually negotiated when CEOs are hired and are designed to compensate them for losing jobs with big paychecks, so they won't stand in the way of a sale that is good for shareholders. But some critics say the packages are so lavish, they can be an incentive to strike iffy deals.

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Aereo files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection

NEW YORK (AP) -- Online streaming service Aereo has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, saying an unfavorable ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court was too difficult to overcome.

The Internet startup made waves earlier this year by letting people record and live stream broadcast TV online.

The Supreme Court ruled in June that Aereo operates like a cable TV company. As a result, the court said the service violates copyright law unless Aereo pays broadcasters licensing fees for offering TV station programs to customers' tablets, phones and other gadgets.

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White House: Immigration steps would boost wages

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A White House report released Friday estimates that President Barack Obama's moves on immigration would expand the labor force and increase worker productivity, as well as lift wages over a 10-year period.

Obama's Council of Economic Advisers forecasts that following the administration's actions, the gross domestic product would grow by $90 billion, or 0.4 percent, over 10 years, and wages would rise by 0.3 percent by 2024.

The report aims to counter those who say Obama's moves would lower wages and cost American workers' jobs. But the president's critics and even some labor allies dispute the report's claim.

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Unemployment rates fall in two-thirds of US states

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Unemployment rates fell in 34 U.S. states in October, a sign that steady hiring this year has been broadly dispersed through most of the country.

The Labor Department said Friday that unemployment rates rose in just 5 states, the fewest since April. Rates were unchanged in 11 states.

Steady economic growth has prompted more companies to add jobs, though the additional hiring hasn't yet boosted wages. Nationwide, employers added 214,000 jobs in October, the ninth straight month of gains above 200,000. That's the longest such stretch since 1995. The U.S. unemployment rate stood at 5.8 percent, a six-year low.

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Japan orders air bag maker to conduct probe

TOKYO (AP) -- Japan's transport ministry said Friday it has ordered air bag maker Takata to conduct an internal investigation after cases of its air bags exploding triggered safety concerns in the United States and other countries.

The ministry also ordered Takata and Japanese automakers to study whether additional recalls are needed in Japan following a U.S. decision to expand recalls nationwide from an earlier measure limited to high-humidity zones.

Takata air bags can inflate with excessive force, sending metal shrapnel toward the driver and passengers. The problems have been blamed for at least six deaths and dozens of injuries. Millions of cars have been recalled worldwide.

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New York Fed chief on defensive on bank oversight

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The head of the New York Federal Reserve was put on the defensive by Senate Democrats, who accused the Fed of being too close to the big banks it is charged with regulating.

William Dudley, president of the New York Fed, insisted at a Senate hearing Friday that "our eyes are open" and regulators are fair, unbiased and rigorous in their oversight of the biggest U.S. banks.

A 2009 report found that the New York Fed's culture stifled dissenting views among its bank supervisors. Democratic critics say the Fed's lax regulation of Wall Street banks could end up putting taxpayers on the hook again to bail them out as in the 2008 financial crisis.

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French investigate HSBC over possible tax dodging

PARIS (AP) -- HSBC bank was placed under formal investigation in France over services it offered to clients required to pay taxes in France, just days after the private banking branch was charged in Belgium with organized fiscal fraud.

Switzerland-based HSBC Private Bank said Friday that French investigators demanded a 50 million euro ($62 million) bond. The office of France's financial prosecutor confirmed that an investigation was opened on Tuesday.

France's government is increasingly cracking down on tax dodgers, including establishing an office dedicated solely to investigating financial crimes.

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones Industrial average climbed 91.06 points, or 0.5 percent, to close at 17,810.06. The S&P 500 index added 10.75 points, or 0.5 percent, to 2,063.50. The Nasdaq composite rose 11.10 points, or 0.2 percent, to 4,712.97.

Benchmark U.S. crude gained 66 cents to settle at $76.51 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, rose $1.03 to close at $80.36 on the ICE Futures exchange in London. In other energy futures trading on the NYMEX, wholesale gasoline rose 2.9 cents to close at $2.057 a gallon, heating oil rose 2.5 cents to close at $2.405 a gallon and natural gas fell 22.3 cents to close at $4.266 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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