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Business Highlights

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New seats let airlines squeeze in more passengers

It’s not your imagination. There really is a tighter squeeze on many planes these days.

The big U.S. airlines are taking out old, bulky seats in favour of so-called slimline models that take up less space from front to back, allowing for five or six more seats on each plane.

The changes, covering some of the most common planes flown on domestic and international routes, give the airlines two of their favourite things: More paying passengers, and a smaller fuel bill because the seats are slightly lighter. It’s part of a trend among the airlines to view seats as money-makers, not just pieces of furniture. Add a few inches of legroom and airlines can charge more for tickets. Take away a few inches and they can fit more seats on the plane.

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Fitch puts US credit rating on negative watch

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Fitch credit rating agency has warned that it is reviewing the U.S. government’s AAA credit rating for a possible downgrade, citing Thursday’s looming deadline to increase the nation’s borrowing limit.

Fitch has placed the U.S. credit rating on negative watch, a step that would precede an actual downgrade. The agency said it expects to conclude its review within the next six months.

Fitch says it expects the debt limit will be raised soon, but adds, “the political brinkmanship and reduced financing flexibility could increase the risk of a U.S. default.”

Fitch is one of the three leading U.S. credit ratings agencies, along with Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s. S&P downgraded U.S. long-term debt to “AA” in August 2011.

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Uneven enforcement suspected at nuclear plants

BOSTON (AP) — The number of safety violations at U.S. nuclear power plants varies dramatically from region to region, pointing to inconsistent enforcement in an industry now operating mostly beyond its original 40-year licenses, according to a congressional study awaiting release.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission figures cited in the Government Accountability Office report show that while the West has the fewest reactors, it had the most lower-level violations from 2000 to 2012 — more than 2 1/2 times the Southeast’s rate per reactor.

The Southeast, with the most reactors of the NRC’s four regions, had the fewest such violations, according to the report, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press.

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Apple hires Burberry CEO to boost store sales

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Apple is entrusting the elegant stores that help define its brand to Angela Ahrendts, a respected executive who blended fashion sense with technological savvy to establish Burberry as a mark of luxury and success.

The hiring announced Tuesday is a coup for Apple Inc. Besides providing the Cupertino, Calif. company with another sharp mind, Ahrendts should help Apple deflect potential criticism about the lack of women in the upper ranks of its management.

Silicon Valley’s long-running reliance on men to make key decisions has come into sharper focus as online messaging service Twitter Inc. prepares to go public. Twitter’s closely scrutinized IPO documents called attention to the San Francisco company’s all-male board of directors and the presence of just one woman in its executive inner circle.

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Twitter to list on New York Stock Exchange

NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Stock Exchange is edging out its tech-heavy rival for the biggest stock debut of the year.

Twitter says it will list its shares on the NYSE. The micro-blogging service does not say in its latest regulatory filing when it expects to start trading, but the debut is expected before Thanksgiving.

It chose the NYSE over the Nasdaq stock exchange, which fumbled Facebook Inc.’s debut last year, damaging its reputation. Both exchanges heavily courted Twitter, which is expected to be the marquee IPO of the year.

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Coke exec: Diet Coke under pressure

NEW YORK (AP) — Diet Coke, the country’s No. 2 soda, may be losing some of its pop.

During a conference call with analysts Tuesday, a Coca-Cola executive noted that Diet Coke was “under a bit of pressure” because of people’s concerns over its ingredients, alluding to the growing wariness of artificial sweeteners in recent years.

Steve Cahillane, who heads Coca-Cola’s North American and Latin American business, noted that the issue wasn’t specific to Diet Coke, but that many diet foods and drinks in the U.S. are facing the same concerns.

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NY fights site listing homes for tourists to rent

NEW YORK (AP) — Each night, people in apartments all over New York City are cleaning up, putting out fresh towels and clearing out — to rent their private space to strangers from around the world.

Thousands of city residents are using websites such as Airbnb.com to list apartments or rooms for as little as $35 a night, a phenomenon officials say is illegal in many cases, undercuts the hotel industry, avoids taxes and threatens apartment building safety.

New York’s top prosecutor is demanding that Airbnb turn over data on city dwellers who have listed on the site as part of an investigation into whether residents are breaking a state law barring sublets for fewer than 30 days if occupants are not present.

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Yahoo’s 3Q results drop along with ad prices

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Yahoo is regaining its appeal among investors a lot faster than with the online advertisers who generate most of its revenue.

The company’s third-quarter numbers released Tuesday are the latest to underscore the challenges facing CEO Marissa Mayer even as Yahoo’s stock continues to soar under her leadership. The shares have more than doubled since Yahoo lured Mayer away from rival Google Inc. 15 months ago, largely because investors prize Yahoo’s 24 per cent stake in Chinese Internet star Alibaba Group Holding.

Alibaba is already making far more money than Yahoo while growing at a rapid pace that bodes well for the future.

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Citigroup earnings edge lower, miss estimates

NEW YORK (AP) — Citigroup said its earnings fell slightly in the third quarter after a $1 billion drop in revenue from its bond trading business and a slump in mortgage refinancing.

Net income for the July-to-September period fell to $3.26 billion from $3.27 billion in the same period a year ago after excluding an accounting gain and other one-time items. The earnings amount to $1.02 per share compared with $1.06 per share a year earlier.

Revenue fell to $18.2 billion compared with $19.2 billion a year earlier.

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Wal-Mart announces disciplined store expansion

NEW YORK (AP) — Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is embracing a disciplined approach to expansion as it responds to a challenging global economy and increasing consumer demands for more convenience.

The world’s largest retailer said that it’s closing some stores in China and Brazil to boost productivity in those markets, while it’s accelerating the expansion of small stores in the U.S. at a faster pace than that of its supercenters. It aims to tether these small stores to supercenters, which will act as mini warehouse hubs for their smaller cousins.

The plans, announced at the retailer’s annual analysts’ meeting on Tuesday, come as the discounter aims to cut costs in the face of increasing pressure from expanding competition. That includes online retailers like Amazon.com as well as dollar stores, which have been rapidly adding locations and winning customers with low prices and easy access.

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 133.25 points, or 0.9 per cent, to 15,168.01. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 12.08 points, or 0.7 per cent, to 1,698.06. The Nasdaq composite fell 21.26 points, or 0.6 per cent, to 3,794.01.

Benchmark crude for November delivery fell $1.20 to close at $101.21 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the benchmark used to set prices for international crudes used by many U.S. refineries, fell $1.08 to $109.96 on the ICE futures exchange in London.

Wholesale gasoline slipped 1 cent to $2.66 a gallon. Natural gas fell 3 cents to $3.79 per 1,000 cubic feet. Heating oil lost 1 cent to $3.02 a gallon.