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BC-Business News Digest

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FITCH-US â¿¿ Fitch Ratings is warning that the U.S. is more likely to lose its top-notch "AAA" rating if lawmakers cannot agree on how to cut the deficit, sending the country over the "fiscal cliff" of broad government spending cuts and tax increases next year.

US-CHINA-TRADE

WASHINGTON â¿¿ The U.S. is seeking a more balanced trade relationship with China at talks that could set the tone for cooperation after political transitions in the world's two largest economies.

HOUSING STARTS

WASHINGTON â¿¿ U.S. builders broke ground on fewer houses in November after starting work in October at the fastest pace in four years. Superstorm Sandy likely slowed starts in the Northeast. The Commerce Department says builders began construction of homes at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 861,000. That was 3 percent less than October's annual rate of 888,000, the fastest since July 2008. By Christopher S. Rugaber.

SMALLBIZ-SMALLTALK

Taxes. They are the center of the discussions on the so-called "fiscal cliff" and the one thing that creates the biggest headache for most small business owners. But Dane Stangler, who researches and writes about entrepreneurship for the Ewing Marion Kaufmann Foundation says the problem isn't the amount of taxes that small business owners have to pay â¿¿ instead it's the complexity of dealing with them. Stangler talks with AP about this and other issues affecting small business owners. By Joyce M. Rosenberg.

AP photo.

WALL STREET

NEW YORK â¿¿ Stocks dipped Wednesday, recording their first loss of the week. President Barack Obama and Republicans in Congress sniped at each other, and a deadline to avoid sweeping tax increases and government spending cuts drew closer. General Motors surged after the government announced plans to shed its ownership stake in the company.

â¿¿ OIL PRICES â¿¿ The price of oil jumps 2 percent to more than $90 a barrel as the government reported shrinking crude supplies, and some good news overseas offsets concerns about the political wrangling in Washington.

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