Business Highlights

The Associated Press 0

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Target steps up breach investigation with Justice

NEW YORK (AP) — Target Corp. said the Department of Justice is investigating the security breach at the retailer that’s being called the second largest such incident in U.S. history.

The DOJ declined to comment on whether it’s investigating Target, the nation’s second largest discounter.

Target also said that it’s teaming up with the U.S. Secret Service in its own investigation. Target said the Secret Service has asked the company not to share many of the details of the probe.

Target said earlier this week that data connected to about 40 million credit and debit card accounts was stolen in a period that began over the Thanksgiving weekend.

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US consumer spending rose 0.5 per cent in November

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans increased their spending in November by the most in five months, and their income edged up modestly.

Consumer spending rose 0.5 per cent from October, when spending had risen 0.4 per cent, the Commerce Department said Monday. It was the best showing since June. The gain was driven by a jump in spending on long-lasting durable goods such as autos.

Consumer spending is closely followed because it accounts for about 70 per cent of economic activity. The strong November showing suggests solid economic growth this quarter.

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Apple lands elusive iPhone deal with China Mobile

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A long-sought deal to sell the iPhone through China Mobile should enable Apple to boost its profits and build customer loyalty in an important, growing market.

China Mobile, the world’s largest wireless carrier, boasts more than 750 million mobile accounts, an audience that had been mostly walled off from the iPhone until Apple and China Mobile hammered out a multi-year sales agreement after years of thorny negotiations. The companies announced the deal Sunday (Monday in China).

Analysts doubt the China Mobile breakthrough will prompt Apple Inc. to introduce an extremely cheap iPhone as the Cupertino, Calif., company clings to a higher standard of quality. That approach is likely to ensure that smartphones running Google’s Android software remain the top-selling devices in China.

Even so, investors are pleased to see Apple fill a gaping hole in the iPhone’s sales network.

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Mass. deal would create meningitis victims’ fund

BOSTON (AP) — Attorneys for creditors of a Massachusetts pharmacy linked to a nationwide meningitis outbreak say they’ve reached a preliminary settlement that would set up a victim compensation fund worth more than $100 million.

Attorney William Baldiga says the agreement was reached among creditors, the bankruptcy trustee and the owners and insurers of the New England Compounding Center. The deal needs approval from a bankruptcy judge.

Since the contaminated steroids were discovered, 751 people in 20 states have developed fungal meningitis or other infections; 64 have died. Michigan, Tennessee and Indiana were hit the hardest.

A federal investigation of the Framingham-based company is ongoing. The company’s owners say they deny liability or wrongdoing but want to play a major role in establishing the fund.

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Headphones, speakers top gift lists

ATLANTA (AP) — Headphones, speakers and other audio gear are topping the holiday gift lists of many Americans.

Audio equipment is among the top-selling electronics gifts this holiday season, accounting for 13 per cent of the $8 billion in consumer electronics sales between Nov. 24 and Dec. 7, according to research firm NPD Group. Headphone sales rose 14 per cent. Sales of sound bars, long, thin speakers that create surround sound, grew 80 per cent. And wireless speaker sales nearly quadrupled.

The trend is being driven in part by the economy. Audio gear, which can range from $10 for ear buds to thousands of dollars for a home theatre system, is being considered by some an affordable luxury during a still shaky economy.

Americans also have spent the last several years buying tablets, smartphones and TVs. Now, many are looking for ways to squeeze better sound from those gadgets.

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Jos. A. Bank turns down Men’s Wearhouse offer

NEW YORK (AP) — Jos. A. Bank rejected a takeover offer from competitor Men’s Wearhouse, saying the $1.54 billion bid is too low.

Men’s Wearhouse said Monday that it will “carefully consider all of our options to make this combination a reality.” That may include launching a proxy battle. Men’s Wearhouse said it could nominate director candidates at Jos. A. Bank’s next annual meeting.

It’s the latest twist in the effort to combine the two companies. Putting the two together would create a men’s clothing powerhouse with more than 1,700 outlets.

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Hyundai, Kia to pay millions in fuel settlement

Hyundai and its sister company Kia said Monday that they will pay up to $395 million to consumers as part of a proposed settlement over overstated gas mileage.

The Environmental Protection Agency found inflated numbers on 13 Hyundai and Kia vehicles in November 2012.

Hyundai and Kia acknowledged the problem, changed the fuel economy numbers and blamed a procedural error. Since then, Hyundai and Kia have been compensating owners with payments of around $88 annually, which is based on the amount the mileage was overstated and the average price of gasoline.

Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors are also offering an option of a lump-sum payment. The companies put a figure to it Monday

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Vegas casinos draw tourists with holiday exhibits

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Las Vegas has mostly shelved its attempt to rebrand itself as a family-friendly wonderland. But there’s one exception: the dreaded holiday season, when visitor numbers crater and room vacancies soar.

In an attempt to lure tourists, Las Vegas casinos are staging increasingly elaborate holiday events.

For example, the Bellagio has again transformed its conservatory into a faux winter wonderland featuring a 42-foot-tall Christmas tree, a life-sized candy house, a walk-through snow globe and topiary polar bears. The casino’s dancing water fountains are leaping to Christmas classics, and tourists are taking photos with a 250-pound chocolate Grinch.

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 73.47 points, or 0.5 per cent, to 16,294.61. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index was up 9.67 points, or 0.5 per cent, to 1,827.99. The Nasdaq composite rose 44.16 points, or 1.1 per cent, to 4,148.90.

Benchmark U.S. oil for February delivery dropped 41 cents to close at $98.91 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Wholesale gasoline was flat at $2.78 a gallon. Heating oil lost 2 cents to $3.06 a gallon. Natural gas added 5 cents to $4.46 per thousand cubic feet. Brent crude, a benchmark used to price international crudes used by many U.S. refiners, fell 21 cents to $111.56 in London.

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