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Business Highlights

By The Associated Press

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Americans kick off 2-day holiday shopping marathon

The holiday shopping season started as a marathon, not a sprint.

More than a dozen major U.S. retailers stayed open for 24 hours or more on Thanksgiving Day through Black Friday, and crowds formed early and often over the two days. This year may cement the transformation of the start of the holiday shopping season into a two-day affair.

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Mexican drug cartels now make money exporting ore

MEXICO CITY (AP) a¿¿ Mexican drug cartels looking to diversify their businesses long ago moved into oil theft, pirated goods, extortion and kidnapping, consuming an ever larger swath of the country's economy. This month, federal officials confirmed the cartels have even entered the country's lucrative mining industry, exporting iron ore to Chinese mills.

Such large-scale illegal mining operations were long thought to be wild rumor, but federal officials confirmed they had known about the cartels' involvement in mining since 2010, and that the Nov. 4 military takeover of Lazaro Cardenas, Mexico's second-largest port, was aimed at cutting off the cartels' export trade.

That news served as a wake-up call to Mexicans that drug traffickers have penetrated the country's economy at unheard-of levels, becoming true Mafia-style organizations.

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Eurozone inflation rise eases pressure on ECB

LONDON (AP) a¿¿ Welcome news on inflation and unemployment on Friday will ease pressure on the European Central Bank to act again next week to shore up the 17-country eurozone economy. But they do little to ease longer-term worries over the recovery.

Eurostat, the EU's statistics office, said unemployment was down for the first time since early 2011 and that inflation edged higher in November, dampening fears that the eurozone is about to face a debilitating period of falling prices, also known as deflation.

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S&P 500 gains for 8th straight week

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