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Business Highlights

By The Associated Press

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US consumers boost spending 0.3 percent in August

WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ U.S. consumers increased their spending slightly last month as their income grew at the fastest pace in six months. The figures point to only modest economic growth in the July-September quarter.

Consumers' spending on goods and services rose 0.3 percent in August, the Commerce Department said Friday. That's up from a 0.2 percent gain in July, which was slightly more than the 0.1 percent reported last month.

Consumer spending drives 70 percent of economic activity. Many analysts say the increases are not enough to accelerate economic growth in the third quarter from the 2.5 percent annual rate in the April-June quarter.

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Gas prices fall as weather, output calm markets

NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ Gasoline prices have fallen steadily throughout September, and drivers should look forward to even cheaper fill-ups in the weeks ahead.

The national average price for a gallon of gasoline is now $3.42, down from $3.59 on Sept. 1. The price is the lowest it's been at this time of year since 2010 and is likely to keep falling.

"It's a layup for me to predict lower prices until Columbus Day weekend," says Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at GasBuddy.com and Oil Price Information Service, which tracks retail and wholesale gasoline prices.

Wholesale gasoline prices have fallen faster in recent days than pump prices, so drivers can expect to pay even less as the pump prices catch up.

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Exxon to offer benefits to same-sex couples in US

NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ Exxon Mobil Corp. said Friday that it will begin offering benefits to legally married same-sex couples in the U.S. for the first time starting next week.

The company says it will recognize "all legal marriages" when it determines eligibility for health care plans for the company's 77,000 employees and retirees in the U.S.

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