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Business Highlights

By The Associated Press

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Ireland faces more austerity after end of bailout

DUBLIN (AP) a¿¿ Ireland's finance chief says the country's exit from its international bailout this week should be celebrated as a eurozone triumph, but won't mean an end to austerity for the debt-battered Irish.

On Sunday, Ireland officially ends its reliance on a 67.5 billion-euro ($93 billion) loan program that European governments and the International Monetary Fund provided in 2010 to save the Irish from national bankruptcy.

Ireland is the first country in the 17-member eurozone to regain economic sovereignty after a bailout, in contrast to Greece, Cyprus and Portugal. But Finance Minister Michael Noonan told a press conference Friday that investors in new Irish bonds would need to see the country continue to slash spending and deficits through 2015 at least.

Ireland has imposed austerity since a 2008 banking crisis.

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Toyota to enter settlement negotiations

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) a¿¿ After a four-year legal battle, Toyota is entering settlement talks on hundreds of lawsuits that allege sudden unintended acceleration problems with its vehicles led to deaths and injuries.

A motion filed late Thursday in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana indicated both sides would begin an "intensive settlement process" next month.

The Japanese automaker, which has recalled millions of cars since 2009 over the issue, agreed to the negotiations to make resolving the cases more efficient, spokeswoman Carly Schaffner told The Associated Press on Friday.

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US wholesale costs fall for 3rd month on cheap gas

WASHINGTON (AP) a¿¿ U.S. wholesale prices dropped in November for the third consecutive month, pushed down again by cheaper gasoline and lower home heating oil costs. But excluding volatile energy costs, inflation was mostly stable.

The producer price index, which measures prices before they reach the consumer, declined 0.1 percent last month, the Labor Department said Friday. This comes after similar decreases in October and September.

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