By contrast, private-sector jobs have increased by 1.6 million over the past 12 months. But the state, local and federal job losses have become a drag on efforts to nudge the nation's unemployment rate down from its painfully high 9.1 percent.

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Caterpillar third-quarter profit soars, raises year view

NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ Strong demand for machinery drove up Caterpillar's profit 44 percent in the third quarter and the company expects even stronger sales next year.

The world's largest maker of construction and mining equipment earned $1.14 billion, or $1.71 per share, in the third quarter, compared with $792 million, or $1.22 per share, a year earlier. Revenue surged 41 percent to $15.72 billion.

Excluding its $7.6 billion acquisition of surface mining equipment maker Bucyrus International Inc., Caterpillar earned $1.93 per share on revenue of $14.58 billion.

Analysts polled by FactSet Research were expecting a profit of $1.63 per share on $14.84 billion in sales.

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Peabody Energy, ArcelorMittal acquire coal company

LUXEMBOURG (AP) ⿿ Peabody Energy Corp and Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal say they have acquired controlling interest in an Australian coal company for a price reportedly in excess of $5 billion (⿬3.62 billion).

Peabody â¿¿ the U.S.-based world's largest private-sector coal company â¿¿ and ArcelorMittal â¿¿ the world's largest steelmaker â¿¿ said Monday they now control nearly 60 percent of the shares of Macarthur Coal Ltd, and will appoint representatives to the Macarthur board.

Macarthur is a major producer of pulverized coal, which is coveted by steel producers.

PEAMCoal Pty Ltd, the holding company now controlling 59.85 percent of the Macarthur shares, is 60 percent owned by Peabody and 40 percent owned by ArcelorMittal.

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Mattel buying Thomas the Tank Engine's parent

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) â¿¿ Mattel has agreed to buy the company behind Thomas the Tank Engine and Bob the Builder for $680 million in cash, the toy maker's biggest acquisition in a decade.

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