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Duke Energy 3Q earnings hurt by mild weather

NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ Duke Energy, the nation's largest electric utility by market value, reported stronger-than-expected earnings for the third quarter but company executives said the outlook for strong economic growth in the U.S. is dim.

The company said more customers signed up for service, which is a hopeful sign, but demand for electricity from homes and businesses has been weak. Jim Rogers, Duke CEO, said in an interview that the company is operating under the expectation that electricity demand, excluding the effects of weather, will grow at a rate of less than 1 percent.

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Wendy's sales climb amid transformation push

NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ Wendy's push to remake itself as a higher-end hamburger chain is starting to pay off, with a key sales figure rising for the sixth straight quarter.

The company, based in Dublin, Ohio, is trying to pull away from the image of the typical fast-food chain and cast itself as a purveyor of higher-quality burgers and sides. The move reflects the growing popularity of chains such as Chipotle and Panera, which offer better quality food for slightly higher prices.

Other chains have been taking cues from the new breed of fast-casual restaurants as well, with Burger King reworking its menu and Taco Bell rolling out its higher-end Cantina Bell bowls and burritos earlier this year. McDonald's Corp., meanwhile, said it plans to intensify its focus on value in the challenging economy. The Oak Brook, Ill.-based chain said Thursday that sales in October fell for the first time since 2003.

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Disney 4Q profit in line, revenue misses forecast

LOS ANGELES (AP) â¿¿ The Walt Disney Co. said Thursday that its net income in the latest quarter rose 14 percent because of an uptick in revenue driven by higher consumer spending at its theme parks and on its cruise ships.

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