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Business Highlights

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US consumer debt rises on more car, school loans

WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ U.S. consumers took on more debt in November to buy cars and attend school, but stayed cautious with their credit cards.

The Federal Reserve said Tuesday that consumers increased their borrowing in November by $16 billion from October to a seasonally adjusted record of $2.77 trillion.

Borrowing that covers autos and student loans increased $15.2 billion. A category that measures credit card debt rose by just $817 million.

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Unemployment falls below 7 percent in most US cities

WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ Unemployment rates fell below 7 percent in a majority of U.S. cities in November, suggesting steady job gains are benefiting most parts of the country.

The Labor Department said Tuesday that rates fell in November from October in 215 of the 372 largest metro areas. Rates were unchanged in 33 and rose in 124.

Rates dropped below 7 percent in 192 cities. That's the first time since the recession ended that more than half of large cities had rates below that threshold. And 52 had rates below 5 percent.

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Tax filing season starts Jan. 30 for most

WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ The Internal Revenue Service says late changes to federal tax laws should mean only a short delay for most taxpayers to file their 2012 returns.

The agency said Tuesday that more than 120 million taxpayers â¿¿ about 80 percent of all filers â¿¿ should be able to start filing their federal returns on Jan. 30. Others will have to wait until late February or March to file because the agency needs time to update and test its systems.

Those who will have to wait include people claiming residential energy credits, depreciation of property or general business credits. The filing season had been slated to start Jan. 22 but was delayed by the last-minute tax package passed by Congress Jan. 1.

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