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Business Highlights

By The Associated Press

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U.S. economy adds 146,000 jobs, jobless rate falls to 7.7 percent in November

The pace of U.S. hiring remained steady in November despite disruptions from Superstorm Sandy and employers' concerns about impending tax increases from the year-end "fiscal cliff."

Companies added 146,000 jobs, and the unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent â¿¿ the lowest in nearly four years â¿¿ from 7.9 percent in October. The rate declined mainly because more people stopped looking for work and weren't counted as unemployed.

The government said Superstorm Sandy had only a minimal effect on the figures.

The Labor Department's report Friday was a mixed one. But on balance, it suggested that the job market is gradually improving.

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APNewsBreak: Bangladesh factory lost fire certification before fatal fire, expanded illegally

The factory where 112 garment workers died in a fire should have been shut down months ago. The fire department refused to renew the certification it needed to operate, a top fire official told The Associated Press. And its owner told AP that just three of the factory's eight floors were legal. He was building a ninth.

Government officials knew of the problems, but the factory just kept running.

Bangladesh's $20 billion-a-year garment industry, which accounts for 80 percent of its total export earnings, goes virtually unchallenged by the government, said Kalpona Akter, executive director of the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity, a labor rights group.

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Apple's softer side emerges under CEO Cook

Apple is emerging under Tim Cook's leadership as a kinder corporate citizen.

Cook's announcement this week that the company is moving the production of one of its Mac computer lines to the U.S. is just the latest step in a softening of the company's image following the October 2011 death of CEO and co-founder Steve Jobs.

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