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Business Highlights

By The Associated Press

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Analysts to Apple: Bend your knee to Wall Street

NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ Apple needs to come down off its pedestal and start making nice with Wall Street, analysts said Thursday as investors hammered the company's stock.

The sell-off put Apple a hair's-breadth away from losing its status as the world's most valuable company. At Thursday's close, it was worth $423 billion, just 1.6 percent more than No. 2 Exxon Mobil Corp.

The plunge was set off by Apple's quarterly earnings report late Wednesday, which suggested the company's nearly decade-long growth run is slowing drastically.

The stock ended down $63.51 or 12 percent, at $450.50. It last traded that low a year ago.

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Obama picks former prosecutor to head SEC

WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ President Barack Obama sent his strongest signal yet Thursday that he wants the government to get tougher with Wall Street, appointing a former prosecutor to head the Securities and Exchange Commission for the first time in the agency's 79-year history.

Mary Jo White, former U.S. attorney in Manhattan, has an extensive record of prosecuting white-collar crime. She also won convictions in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the 1998 terrorist attacks on two U.S. embassies in Africa, and put crime boss John Gotti away.

If confirmed, she will have the job of enforcing complicated regulations written in response to the worst financial crisis since the Depression.

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As layoffs keep dropping, hopes rise for job gains

WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ Employers are laying off fewer workers, a trend that normally suggests hiring is picking up. The January jobs report next week will show whether employers have begun to hire more freely or are still waiting for the economy to strengthen.

The number of people seeking unemployment aid has reached a five-year low. Some employers, such as health care companies, restaurants and retailers, are hiring steadily. Yet overall job growth remains modest. And the unemployment rate is the same 7.8 percent it was when Barack Obama became president four years ago.

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