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Business Highlights

Moody's set to downgrade US without budget deal

NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ The U.S. government's debt rating could be heading for the "fiscal cliff" along with the federal budget.

Moody's Investors Service on Tuesday said it would likely cut its "Aaa" rating on U.S. government debt, probably by one notch, if budget negotiations fail.

If Congress and the White House don't reach a budget deal, about $1.2 trillion in spending cuts and tax increases will automatically kick in starting Jan. 2, a scenario that's been dubbed the "fiscal cliff," because it is likely to send the economy back into recession and drive up unemployment.

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US trade deficit grew slightly to $42 billion in July

WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ The U.S. trade deficit grew to $42 billion in July, widened by fewer exports to Europe, India and Brazil that offset a steep decline in oil imports.

The Commerce Department said Tuesday that the trade deficit increased 0.2 percent from June's deficit of $41.9 billion.

U.S. exports fell 1 percent to $183.3 billion. Sales of autos, telecommunications equipment and heavy machinery all declined. Imports dropped 0.8 percent to $225.3 billion.

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Retail group says it opposes card fee settlement

NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ The National Retail Federation is opposing a proposed $7.25 billion settlement that Visa Inc., MasterCard Inc. and major banks have agreed to pay retailers for alleged fee fixing.

The retail trade association said Tuesday that its board has given approval for it to go to court to try to block the settlement. The NRF, which is not a party to the lawsuit that led to the settlement, says it is unsure whether outside groups will be allowed to intervene, or if the case qualifies as a class action.

The NRF says it believes the proposed settlement will not stop swipe fees from continuing to rise, which will hurt both retailers and shoppers, and that it will prevent any future legal challenges.

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