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Business Highlights

Auto sales boost otherwise weak retail sector

WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ Americans spent less at most retail stores in July and inflation remained tame as high unemployment and weak job growth fueled fears of a slowing economic recovery.

A busy month for car dealerships and higher gas prices lifted overall retail sales 0.4 percent last month, the Commerce Department said Friday. It was the first overall gain in three months.

Still, most retailers reported declines. Excluding autos and gasoline sales â¿¿ which accounted for one-fourth of the July figures â¿¿ retail sales fell 0.1 percent last month. Sales were down 1 percent at department stores and also dropped at specialty clothing stores, furniture stores, hardware stores and appliance stores.

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Stocks fall for 4th day after retail sales report

NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ The stock market has fallen for the fourth straight day after a mixed batch of readings on consumer spending contributed to a muddled picture of the economy.

The major indexes fluctuated all day in light trading. Many traders were on vacation, and those who were working had little reason to make major moves because of economic data that remain confusing.

The latest reports fell in line with a long string of conflicting data that has left investors unsure about where the economy is headed. The Dow Jones industrial average has lost almost 400 points in four days.

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AP Source: GM likely to file IPO papers next week

DETROIT (AP) â¿¿ General Motors Co. is likely to file paperwork next week that describes its plan to sell shares to the public, a person familiar with the matter said Friday.

The Detroit automaker had planned to file the papers on Friday but delayed the move to build distance between the filing and two major announcements it made on Thursday, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the company is not commenting publicly on the stock sale.

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