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AP photos

DISNEY-LUCASFILM-STAR WARS

LOS ANGELES â¿¿ Darth Vader is dead. The evil Emperor exploded. And Luke Skywalker and his allies destroyed both Death Stars, restoring balance to the Force. For The Walt Disney Co., the prospective new owner of the "Star Wars" franchise, what's left to tell? A lot, apparently. There are more than 110 novels and 80-plus comic books set after "Return of the Jedi," the sixth episode in the film series. That has left a lot of room for speculation ever since Disney announced it is buying Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion and will resume making "Star Wars" movies. By Ryan Nakashima.

AP photos.

HOSTESS-BANKRUPTCY

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. â¿¿ Twinkies, Ho Hos and Wonder Bread are up for sale, now that a bankruptcy judge has cleared the way for Hostess Brands to fire its 18,000 workers and wind down its operations. A last-ditch effort to end a strike with its bakers' union failed Tuesday night. By Retail Writer Candice Choi.

AP Photo.

MARKETS & ECONOMY

UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS

WASHINGTON â¿¿ The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment aid remained elevated for a second straight week because Superstorm Sandy forced many people to seek temporary benefits. The Labor Department said Wednesday that first-time applications for benefits fell by 41,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 410,000. That offset only part of the previous week's surge. By Economics Writer Christopher S. Rugaber.

AP photo

â¿¿ MORTGAGE RATES â¿¿ Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages fell to fresh record lows this week, a trend that is boosting home sales and aiding the housing recovery.

â¿¿ LEADING INDICATORS â¿¿ A measure of the U.S. economy intended to signal future activity rose only slightly last month, suggesting growth could stay weak.

WALL STREET

NEW YORK â¿¿ The stock market crept higher Wednesday ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday. Major market indexes got a slight lift after news broke of a cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

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