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Business Highlights

By The Associated Press

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Yellen stands by Federal Reserve's low rate policies

WASHINGTON a¿¿ Janet Yellen made clear that she's prepared to stand by the Federal Reserve's extraordinary efforts to pump up the economy when she's chairman, if that's what it needs.

During a two-hour confirmation hearing before the Senate Banking Committee, Yellen embraced her so-called "dovish" reputation and expressed strong support for the Fed's low interest-rate policies. And she warned critics that any potential harm those policies pose are outweighed by the risk of leaving a still-weak economy to survive without them.

Yellen faced tough questions, particularly from Republicans. But she also drew praise from senators in both parties and is expected to be confirmed by the full Senate, becoming the first woman to lead the powerful central bank.

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Wal-Mart 3Q profit up, but cuts outlook

NEW YORK a¿¿ Wal-Mart shoppers a¿¿ much like many Americans a¿¿ still feel like they're in a recession.

In the uneven economic recovery, their bills are going up, but their wages are not. While the well-heeled crowd benefits from gains in the stock market, they're still struggling with a higher payroll tax. And shopping for bargains isn't a hobby, but a necessity.

For these reasons, the world's largest retailer cut its annual outlook for the second time in three months and offered fourth-quarter guidance that's below Wall Street's expectations.

The disappointing forecast shows how vulnerable Wal-Mart a¿¿ and its customers a¿¿ are to the ups and downs in the economy. Wal-Mart's shoppers are dealing with a 2 percentage point increase in the Social Security payroll tax since Jan. 1. A partial 16-day government shutdown this year also hurt business in areas with large military bases. And the Nov. 1 expiration of a temporary boost in government food stamps could also hurt customers' ability to spend, though the discounter says it's too early to know.

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