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Business Highlights

Applications typically need to fall below 375,000 to signal sustainable job growth. They haven't been that low since February. Higher unemployment benefit applications may suggest more employers are laying off workers amid growing worries that the economy has weakened.

Pacific Biosciences of California Inc. said Wednesday that it will cut 130 employees, or 28 percent of its work force. Last week, Bank of America Corp. said it is cutting 30,000 jobs.

Still, economists say the main problem is that there are few jobs for the 14 million people who are unemployed.

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Discover 3Q profit more than doubles, card use up

Discover Card users used their plastic more often during the summer, with higher gas prices adding to increased pursuit of the card's cash-back rewards. The increased use, combined with better payment habits, helped Discover Financial Services fiscal third-quarter profit more than double.

The Riverwoods, Ill.-based credit card company's results solidly beat Wall Street expectations, which buoyed its stock while the broader markets plunged as fears mounted over the health of the global economy.

Higher gas prices helped push sales volume on Discover cards up 9 percent to $26.3 billion for the quarter. The average price per gallon during the June to August period was $3.648 per gallon, up from $2.729 the prior year, according to auto club AAA, Wright Express and Oil Price Information Service.

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Target's blunder with designer continues

Target Corp. drummed up so much hype around its exclusive, limited-time line by upscale Italian designer Missoni that the discounter's website crashed and was down most of the day on Sept. 13 when the collection was launched, angering customers. More than a week later, some shoppers who bought the Missoni for Target line are posting on social media websites Facebook and Twitter that they won't shop at Target again because their online orders are being delayed â¿¿ or worse, canceled â¿¿ by the retailer. The Missoni collection was an attempt by Target to regain the cachet it lost among the fashion-forward crowd after it began focusing on expanding its food business. Target is among a few retailers who have partnered with high-end designers that create exclusive lines they can offer for a limited time at deep discounts.

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