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Business Highlights

The Associated Press

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Fed foresees far weaker growth than it had earlier

WASHINGTON â¿¿ The Federal Reserve sketched a bleaker outlook Wednesday for the economy, which it thinks will grow much more slowly and face higher unemployment than it had estimated in June.

The Fed's gloomier forecast shows that the recovery from the recession has continued to fall short of expectations. Some economists said it makes the Fed more likely to act further to try to boost the economy, though probably not until early next year.

One option would be a program similar to the Fed's $600 billion in Treasury bond purchases, which it completed in June. Some economists think the Fed could buy mortgage-backed securities instead, which could more directly support the depressed housing market by lowering loan rates.

Speaking at a news conference Wednesday, Chairman Ben Bernanke said that if conditions worsen, the Fed would consider buying more mortgage-backed securities. He declined to specify what would trigger such a move.

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401(k) matches resume for 75 percent of companies

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) â¿¿ Few areas are spared when it comes to corporate belt tightening. During the economic downturn, employees felt the impact of cutbacks in hiring, raises, and even contributions to their 401(k) plans.

The first wave of reductions in 401(k) plans began in 2008. The number of employers lowering or suspending their contributions rose in the first half of 2009 as the stock market fell to its lowest point after the financial meltdown.

In new research released Wednesday, business consultant Towers Watson analyzed the action of 260 mid- to large-sized companies. It shows that 75 percent of those that took the step to cut costs in their retirement plans have resumed making 401(k) contributions.

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New device uses light to screen for melanoma

WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ Dermatologists will soon get some high-tech help deciding which suspicious-looking moles should be removed and checked for melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

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