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Business Highlights

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As Fed meets, decision on rate hike seems like a toss-up

WASHINGTON (AP) — Will they or won’t they?

Nine years after they last raised their benchmark interest rate and after months of feverish speculation, Federal Reserve policymakers this week may finally raise that rate from a record low near zero.

Unless they don’t.

Financial markets have been zigzagging with anxiety as investors have tried to divine whether the Fed will start phasing out the period of extraordinarily low borrowing rates it launched at a time of crisis in 2008. With the job market now considered essentially recovered from the Great Recession, many economists say it’s time to start edging toward normal rates.

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Wine and tapas? Taco Bell to serve them in Chicago

NEW YORK (AP) — What kind of wine pairs best with a Chalupa? Taco Bell customers in Chicago and San Francisco will soon be able to find out.

The chain says it will open a location that serves wine, beer, sangria and frozen mixed drinks in Chicago next week, marking the first time it will serve alcohol in the United States. The new restaurant will also feature trends Taco Bell says it is seeing among millennials: “tapas-style” appetizers, a mural by a local artist and an open kitchen.

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A talk with Target’s CEO Brian Cornell

BOSTON (AP) — Target is going local.

The liquor section in its new Boston store features locally brewed Samuel Adams beer. The “Fan Central” area stocks Red Sox and Patriot gear. And a special section highlights the products used to make the local favourite peanut butter-and-marshmallow sandwich called fluffernutter.

The store that’s near Fenway Park is part of Target’s effort to tailor merchandise to local preferences. In addition to the Boston store, Target is testing this strategy in 10 Chicago stores, with hopes to eventually expand chain-wide.

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HP to jettison up to 30,000 jobs as part of spinoff

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Hewlett-Packard says its upcoming spinoff of its technology divisions focused on software, consulting and data analysis will eliminate up to 30,000 jobs.

The cuts announced Tuesday will be within the newly formed Hewlett Packard Enterprise, which is splitting from the Palo Alto, California, company’s personal computer and printing operation. The split is scheduled to be completed by the end of next month.

HP Enterprises is trimming its payroll as part of an effort to reduce its expenses by $2 billion annually.

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Amid China woes, European carmakers look to home market

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — European automakers are shrugging off the threat to sales from China’s struggling economy and focusing instead on growing demand in their home market, where competition is getting increasingly fierce, particularly for mass market cars.

After a summer of handwringing over turmoil in China, where many carmakers have enjoyed strong demand in recent years, the mood was upbeat at the Frankfurt auto show as reports showed sales were rising strong in Europe.

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Autos and restaurants push US retail sales higher in August

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans stepped up their spending on cars, restaurant meals, groceries and clothing in August, suggesting that consumers will help sustain U.S. economic growth despite a broader global slowdown.

The Commerce Department said Tuesday that retail sales rose 0.2 per cent last month, after advancing 0.7 per cent in July. Sales have increased 2.2 per cent over the past 12 months, as solid hiring has translated into surges in spending at auto dealers and dining establishments.

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Sharp drop in auto output lowers US factory production

WASHINGTON (AP) — Automakers cut back sharply on production in August, lowering overall factory output and highlighting one of the economy’s weak spots a day before a key Federal Reserve meeting.

Manufacturing production dropped 0.5 per cent, the biggest decline since January 2014, the Federal Reserve said Tuesday. The drop in auto output accounted for most of the decline. Production of computers, airplanes and furniture also fell.

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Sharp drop in auto output lowers US factory production

WASHINGTON (AP) — Automakers cut back sharply on production in August, lowering overall factory output and highlighting one of the economy’s weak spots a day before a key Federal Reserve meeting.

Manufacturing production dropped 0.5 per cent, the biggest decline since January 2014, the Federal Reserve said Tuesday. The drop in auto output accounted for most of the decline. Production of computers, airplanes and furniture also fell.

Fed policymakers will begin a two-day meeting Wednesday to consider whether to raise short-term interest rates for the first time in nine years. Slowing overseas growth and the strong dollar, which are holding back factory output, could cause them to delay a rate hike.

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Fiat Chrysler, UAW extend contract, continue negotiating

DETROIT (AP) — Many of the negotiators in contract talks between the United Auto Workers and Fiat Chrysler took a break Tuesday morning after bargaining through the night.

The union’s contract with the Italian-American automaker officially expired at 11:59 p.m. EDT Monday, but both sides agreed to extend it on an hour-by-hour basis while talks continued toward a new four-year agreement.

Fiat Chrysler was picked as the lead company in the talks this year, making it the focus of bargaining and a potential strike target if talks hit a snag. Also Monday, General Motors and Ford extended their contracts with the UAW indefinitely as bargaining continues.

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FDA halts sales of 4 R.J. Reynolds cigarette brands

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday banned sales of four cigarette brands from R.J. Reynolds because they did not meet the agency’s safety review requirements.

Under FDA rules, companies that launch new cigarettes must show that the products are essentially the same as older products in terms of health risks. The FDA said four brands from R.J. Reynolds failed to show that they don’t raise new safety concerns.

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Subway: Co-founder of sandwich chain DeLuca dead at 67

NEW YORK (AP) — Subway co-founder Fred DeLuca, who turned a sandwich shop he started as a teenager into the world’s largest fast-food chain, died Monday evening. He was 67.

DeLuca’s death came two years after Subway said he had been diagnosed with leukemia and was scaling back on his leadership role at the company. It also came just weeks after the 50th anniversary of Subway, which is known for its “Footlong” sandwiches and says it has more than 44,000 locations around the world.

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GE says it may move up to 500 US jobs overseas

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — General Electric Co. said Tuesday that it may move about 500 jobs overseas because Congress did not renew a government program that allows foreign companies to borrow money to buy U.S. products.

Authorization for the U.S. Export-Import Bank was not approved by Congress, forcing it to stop lending July 1. Foreign companies use the agency to buy expensive U.S. products when bank loans are not available.

As a result, GE says 100 jobs from a Houston plant that makes gas turbines will move to Hungary and China in 2016. The Fairfield, Connecticut, industrial conglomerate says those countries have lending options in place for customers.

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Dentsply buying dental products rival Sirona for $5.51B

NEW YORK (AP) — Dentsply International is buying competitor Sirona Dental Systems for about $5.51 billion in a deal the companies say will create the biggest maker of professional dental products and materials in the world.

The companies say they will have $3.8 billion in combined sales of everything from high-tech chairs to tooth whiteners, anesthetics, and systems that dentists use to take 3-D scans of patients’ mouths and make ceramic tooth replacements that can be implanted during a single visit. The combined company will be called Dentsply Sirona.

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2016 candidates jump to raise money via new Twitter service

WASHINGTON (AP) — Think of it as tweeting for dollars.

The social media service Twitter on Tuesday introduced a feature that enables political candidates and advocacy groups to raise money directly via its mobile application, making it quicker and easier to harvest small donations from followers.

Campaigns already aggressively use Twitter to spread their message, particularly during live political events such as Wednesday night’s Republican presidential debate. The company says that tweets about the August 6 debates on Fox News were viewed more than 1 billion times on Twitter and across the web.

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 228.89 points, or 1.4 per cent, to 16,599.85. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 25.06 points, or 1.3 per cent, to 1,978.09. The Nasdaq composite advanced 54.76 points, or 1.1 per cent, to 4,860.52.

The price of U.S. oil rose 59 cents to $44.59 a barrel. Brent crude, a benchmark for many international types of oil imported into the U.S., gained 26 cents to $46.63 a barrel. Wholesale gasoline rose 2.86 cents to $1.333 a gallon. Heating oil fell less than a penny to $1.503 a gallon. Natural gas slipped 3 cents to $2.728 per 1,000 cubic feet.