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Business Highlights

The agency's director says taxpayers may have to bail out the agency "eventually" if Congress doesn't raise companies' insurance premiums. He didn't give a timeframe.

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Home Depot's 3Q net rises on storm boost

NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ Home Depot Inc.'s third-quarter net income rose 12 percent as consumers spent a bit more on home-improvement projects and repaired their homes after Tropical Storm Irene.

The No. 1 U.S. home-improvement retailer's results announced Tuesday beat analysts' average expectations. The company raised its 2011 earnings outlook and its dividend.

Home-goods sellers are facing cautious consumer spending and a prolonged weak housing market. They've had to adjust to fewer consumers making large-scale home renovations by cutting costs and improving services such as online shopping and customer service.

Atlanta-based Home Depot's smaller rival, Lowe's Cos., reported Monday that its third-quarter net income fell 44 percent on restructuring costs as it closes stores. Lowe's CEO Robert Niblock said Monday that he didn't expect any significant rebound in the housing market until 2013.

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Staples 3Q profit rises, lowers 2011 outlook

FRAMINGHAM, Mass. (AP) â¿¿ Staples Inc. said Tuesday that its profit climbed 13 percent in the third quarter, helped in part by improved sales of office and break room supplies to businesses.

But overall revenue came in short of Wall Street expectations and the nation's biggest office supply company cut its adjusted earnings forecast for the full year as its international performance weakened a bit.

Office suppliers have suffered during the recession and its aftermath, as consumers and small businesses continue to hold back on spending, something that is not likely to change soon, CEO Ron Sargent said.

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Dell earnings rise slightly though revenue was flat

ROUND ROCK, Texas (AP) â¿¿ Dell's third-quarter net income rose 9 percent though its revenue remained flat from last year as the computer maker continued pruning less profitable parts of its business.

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