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Stocks in this article: AAPLDELLDISGERNHDLOWSPLSWMT

The Associated Press

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Retail sales increased 0.5 percent in October

WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ Americans spent more on autos, electronics and building supplies in October. The fifth straight monthly gain in retail sales suggests the economy maintained solid growth at the start of the fourth quarter.

Retail sales increased 0.5 percent, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. Healthy auto sales helped. But even without them, sales rose 0.6 percent â¿¿ the best showing since March.

And when excluding autos and sales at gasoline stations, sales rose 0.7 percent, also the biggest increase since March.

Consumers spent more on electronics, appliances, hardware and building supplies. Sales also rose at grocery stores, bars and restaurants and health care stores.

Sales at department stores and specialty clothing stores fell.

Overall, the data were encouraging. Economists said the sales suggest the economy is growing at roughly the same 2.5 percent annual pace as the July-September quarter.

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Companies paid less in October for energy, autos

WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ Companies paid less for gas, new cars and other goods in October to drive down wholesale prices for the first time since June. Inflation pressures are easing largely because the costs of oil and other commodities have declined.

The Producer Price Index dropped 0.3 percent in October, the Labor Department said Tuesday. That follows a rise of 0.8 percent in September. Excluding volatile food and energy costs, core wholesale prices were unchanged after increasing for 10 straight months.

The index measures price changes before they reach the consumer.

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Apple names Arthur Levinson non-exec chair

Apple has named board member Arthur Levinson as its non-executive chairman to fill the vacancy left open when co-founder Steve Jobs died last month.

Levinson is chairman of Genentech Inc., a pharmaceuticals company he joined as a research scientist in 1980 and led as chief executive from 1995 to 2009. Levinson has been co-lead director on Apple Inc.'s board since 2005. He joined the board in 2000.

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