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Business Highlights

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Shoppers snap up Cyber Monday deals

NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ Shoppers seem to be just as enthusiastic about shopping on their computers and smartphones on Cyber Monday as they were about finding deals over the weekend.

Online sales on Cyber Monday, which a retail trade group started in 2005 to encourage Americans to shop online on the Monday after Thanksgiving, were up by mid-afternoon by 15 percent from a year ago, according to data from IBM Benchmark. Meanwhile, sales from mobile devices were up 7.4 percent. The group did not give dollar amounts.

The Cyber Monday numbers point to Americans' growing comfort with using their personal computers, tablets and smartphones to shop. Over the past few years, big chains like Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailer, have been offering more and better incentives like hourly deals and free shipping, to capitalize on that trend. It's important for retailers to make a good showing during the holiday shopping season, when they bring in up to 40 percent of their annual revenue.

Exuberant shopping helped send stocks soaring Monday. The Standard & Poor's 500 index broke a seven-day losing streak. And the Dow Jones industrial average jumped 291 points, its biggest gain in a month.

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GM to offer free loaner cars to Volt owners

DETROIT (AP) â¿¿ General Motors, concerned about the image of its Chevrolet Volt, is offering free loaner vehicles to owners worried about their electric cars catching fire.

The offer comes after a government safety agency said Friday that it is investigating fires involving the Volt's lithium-ion battery packs following crash tests. Thus far, the Volt tests have not raised concerns about the safety of other electric cars, the agency has said.

GM said on Monday that the vehicle is safe. But it will contact owners of the more than 5,000 Volts sold in North America since December 2010 to reassure them. It will offer the loaners to ensure owners are satisfied and confident in their purchase. GM has not put a time limit on how long customers can keep the loaners but said the offer is not a response to demands from customers.

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