Business Highlights

The Associated Press 0

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Possible China deal could pep up iPhone sales

BEIJING (AP) — Apple Inc. might have a chance to pep up cooling iPhone sales in China if it finally can reach a deal with the world’s biggest phone carrier.

Once China’s must-have gadget, the iPhone has seen its explosive popularity squeezed as the market filled with lower-priced rivals from Samsung to ambitious local brands. Some analysts say anybody who wants an iPhone and can afford it already has one.

That might change if Apple can gain access to China Mobile Ltd.’s network and a new pool of potential customers.

After a yearslong courtship, there are signs the two corporate giants might finally be edging toward a deal. The Wall Street Journal said it could be announced as early as this week, though China Mobile spokespeople have said the companies were still talking.

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AP-GfK poll: Americans see end of stock surge

NEW YORK (AP) — Americans aren’t expecting another bang-up year for the stock market, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll.

Of the people polled, 40 per cent think the market will stabilize where it is now by the end of 2014, with 39 per cent predicting that it will drop, but not crash. Only 14 per cent believe the market will rise and 5 per cent think it will crash.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index has surged 24.5 per cent to 1,775 in 2013, putting it on track for its best year in a decade. The rally has been fueled by higher corporate earnings, a slow but steady recovery in the U.S. economy and stimulus from the Federal Reserve.

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FDA: Anti-bacterial soaps may not curb bacteria

WASHINGTON (AP) — After more than 40 years of study, the federal government said Monday it has no evidence that the anti-bacterial chemicals used in countless common soaps and washes help prevent the spread of germs, and it is reviewing research suggesting they may pose health risks.

Regulators at the Food and Drug Administration said they are revisiting the safety of chemicals such as triclosan in light of recent studies that suggest the substances can interfere with hormone levels and spur the growth of drug-resistant bacteria.

The government’s preliminary ruling lends new support to outside researchers who have long argued that the chemicals are, at best, ineffective and at worst, a threat to public health.

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US factory output rises solid 0.6 pct. in November

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. factories increased output in November for the fourth straight month, led by a surge in auto production. The gains show manufacturing is strengthening and could help boost economic growth at the end of the year.

Factory production rose 0.6 per cent in November after a 0.5 per cent gain in October, the Federal Reserve said Monday.

Production of motor vehicles and parts increased 3.4 per cent, rebounding from a 1.3 per cent decline in October. Factories also stepped up production of home electronics and chemical products.

Industrial production, which includes manufacturing, mining and utilities, rose 1.1 per cent in November. It was the fourth straight gain.

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US worker output rises at best pace in 4 years

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. workers boosted their productivity from July through September at the fastest pace since the end of 2009, adding to signs of stronger economic growth.

The Labor Department said Monday that productivity increased at a 3 per cent annual rate in the third quarter. That’s up from an initial estimate of 1.9 per cent and much stronger than the 1.8 per cent rate from April through June.

Productivity rose because economic growth was much stronger than previously estimated in the third quarter. Productivity is the amount of output per hour of work.

Higher productivity enables companies to pay employees more without sparking inflation. But greater productivity can also slow hiring if it shows companies don’t need more workers to boost output.

However, productivity growth has been mostly flat over the past year. That’s because the gains from the past six months have been offset by declines in previous six months.

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Foreign holdings of US Treasury debt up in October

WASHINGTON (AP) — Foreign buyers of U.S. Treasury securities increased their holdings for a third month in October, despite budget battles in Washington that shut down the government for 16 days that month.

The Treasury Department says total foreign holdings edged up 0.01 per cent in October to $5.65 trillion after a 1 per cent gain in September. Holdings had fallen from April through July, likely reflecting concerns about rising interest rates. In October, holdings were 1.2 per cent below the record high of $5.72 trillion reached in March.

China, the largest foreign buyer of Treasury debt, boosted its holdings 0.8 per cent in October to $1.3 trillion. Japan, the second-largest buyer, trimmed its holdings 0.3 per cent to $1.17 trillion.

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AIG selling aircraft leasing unit in $5.4B deal

NEW YORK (AP) — AIG is selling its aircraft leasing business International Lease Finance Corp. to AerCap in a cash-and-stock deal valued at approximately $5.4 billion.

International Lease Finance has almost 1,000 owned and managed aircraft and has commitments to buy approximately 330 high-demand, fuel-efficient aircraft. It will become a subsidiary of AerCap.

American International Group Inc. said Monday that this is the last major sale of one of its non-core assets. AIG received the biggest bailout of the financial crisis five years ago. The insurer has repaid the bailout money and has undergone a massive restructuring that cut its size in half as it focused on its core insurance business.

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average jumped 129.21 points, or 0.8 per cent, to close at 15,884.57. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index climbed 11.22 points, or 0.6 per cent, to 1,786.54. The Nasdaq rose 28.54 points, or 0.7 per cent, to 4,029.52.

Benchmark U.S. crude for January delivery rose 88 cents to $97.48 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In other energy futures trading on the Nymex, wholesale gasoline rose 1.4 cents to $2.644 a gallon. Heating oil rose 1.5 cents to $2.99 a gallon. Natural gas fell 7.2 cents to $4.279 per 1,000 cubic feet. Brent crude, a benchmark used to price international oil used by many U.S. refineries, rose $1.70 to $110.53 in London.

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