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Business Highlights

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Bernanke defends Fed's low-interest-rate policies

WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ Facing criticism from Republican lawmakers, Chairman Ben Bernanke stood behind the Federal Reserve's low-interest-rate policies Wednesday and sought to reassure members of Congress that the central bank has a handle on the risks.

In his second day of testimony on Capitol Hill, Bernanke told members of the House Financial Services Committee that the Fed's bond purchases are needed to boost a still-weak economy and that they have helped create jobs for average Americans.

The bond purchases are intended to lower long-term interest rates. That encourages more borrowing and spending, which generates growth.

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Penney reports another massive loss in 4Q

NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ Boy, it just wasn't J.C. Penney's year.

The mid-priced department store chain on Wednesday reported another much larger-than-expected loss in the fiscal fourth quarter on a nearly 30 percent plunge in revenue in the latest sign that shoppers aren't happy with the changes it's made in the past year.

The results mark a full year of massive quarterly losses and revenue declines that have missed Wall Street estimates since J.C. Penney Co. began a turnaround strategy that included ditching most of its coupons and sales events in favor of everyday low prices, bringing in hipper designer brands such as Betsy Johnson and remaking outdated stores.

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Target 4Q hurt by Canada investment, weak holiday

NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ Target is drawing its bull's-eye on Canada in 2013.

Its investment in a Canadian launch this year and weaker-than-expected holiday sales caused Target Corp.'s net income to fall 2 percent in the fourth quarter of last year. But the second largest discounter in the U.S. said its foray into Canada, policy of matching competitors' prices and new designer lines will help its business this year.

The big-box retailer, known for its cheap but trendy merchandise, pulled out all the stops to lure in cautious shoppers during the winter holiday season, which runs from November through December. It launched a line of gifts created by 24 high profile designers in partnership with luxury department store Neiman Marcus and offered to match prices of online competitors such as Amazon.com, Walmart.com, Bestbuy.com and Toysrus.com.

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