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Business Highlights

By The Associated Press

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US holiday sales slowly pick up after Sandy

WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ U.S. consumers shook off Superstorm Sandy last month and stepped up holiday shopping, helped by a steady job market and lower gas prices.

Retail sales rose 0.3 percent in November from October, reversing the previous month's decline. Sales increased mostly because Americans spent more online, bought more electronics and began to replace cars and rebuild after the storm.

A sharp drop in gas prices moderated the overall increase. Excluding gas stations, retail sales rose a solid 0.8 percent, according to the Commerce Department report released Thursday.

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Fiscal cliff splits big, small businesses on taxes

WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ The "fiscal cliff" debate is splitting the business community over taxes, driving a wedge between two natural Republican allies.

Negotiations between the White House and Congress are pitting corporate leaders who are helping strengthen President Barack Obama's bargaining position against the small business advocates bristling over the prospect of higher taxes.

Obama has been courting top CEOs during the talks. They have responded by being open to Obama's demand that tax rates go up on household income above $250,000. Obama has promised to consider changes in the tax code that would lower corporate tax rates.

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Google Maps return to iPhone with new mobile app

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) â¿¿ Google Maps has found its way back to the iPhone.

The world's most popular online mapping system returned late Wednesday with the release of the Google Maps iPhone app. The release comes nearly three months after Apple Inc. replaced Google Maps as the device's built-in navigation system and inserted its own map software into the latest version of its mobile operating system.

Apple's maps application proved to be far inferior to Google's, turning what was supposed to be a setback for Google into a vindication.

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