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WASHINGTON â¿¿ President Barack Obama challenges congressional Republicans to let taxes rise on the wealthiest Americans on both economic and political grounds, noting he campaigned successfully for re-election on the point and contending it would instantly ease the threat of the "fiscal cliff" plunging the nation back into recession. By Special Correspondent David Espo.

AP Photos. AP Video.


â¿¿ FISCAL CLIFF-HEALTH CARE â¿¿ Hoping to head off wider health care cuts in upcoming budget talks, a think tank close to the White House is unveiling a plan for how to save $385 billion, mostly from Medicare.

â¿¿ SMALLBIZ-FISCAL CLIFF â¿¿ Small business owners worried about the fiscal cliff aren't just concerned about their own finances. They're also uneasy about higher taxes on consumers. According to a new survey by a lobbying group, small company owners are most worried about losing tax breaks â¿¿ and that an increase in payroll taxes will force people to put away their wallets.


WASHINGTON â¿¿ Superstorm Sandy combined with cautious consumers to lower retail sales in October and raise concerns about weaker economic growth and a tepid holiday shopping season. Consumers may also be holding back because of anxiety over big tax increases and spending cuts â¿¿ known as the "fiscal cliff" â¿¿ that will take effect in January unless Congress and the White House reach a budget deal by then. By Business Writers Christopher S. Rugaber and Anne D'Innocenzio. Incorporates BC-US-Retail Sales, BC-US--Wholesale Prices, BC-US--Business Inventories.

AP Photos.


NEW YORK â¿¿ One of the most painful moments for a small business owner is when he realizes: It's not working. It could be a product that's not succeeding, business that's stolen by a competitor, or changes in the marketplace that threaten a company's survival. To survive, small business owners often have to reinvent themselves. It's not an easy task. But some have been able to pull it off. By Business Writer Joyce M. Rosenberg.


ROME â¿¿ Good plumbers may be worth their weight in gold, but when one was spotted zipping around in a bright red Ferrari, Italian tax police were fast on his trail. Stamping out entrenched tax evasion is crucial to Premier Mario Monti's quest to keep Italy from succumbing to the European debt crisis. By Frances D'Emilio.

AP Photos



WASHINGTON â¿¿ The Federal Reserve may be preparing to take further steps to stimulate an economy that remains too weak to reduce high unemployment. Minutes of the Fed's Oct. 23-24 policy meeting released Wednesday suggest that it might unveil a bond buying program in December to replace a program that expires at year's end. By Economics Writer Martin Crutsinger.

â¿¿CENSUS-POVERTYâ¿¿ Taking medical costs and work-related expenses into account results in a larger number of poor people than the government's official poverty measure, the Census Bureau says.


LOS ANGELES â¿¿ The pace of new foreclosures is slowing and fewer properties are being repossessed by lenders, according to new data from foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac Inc. By Real Estate Writer Alex Veiga.

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NEW YORK â¿¿ Investors draws little hope for a quick compromise in U.S. budget talks after President Barack Obama insists that higher taxes on wealthy Americans would have to be part of any deal. Stocks fall sharply, and even a signal from the Federal Reserve that it could launch a program in December to speed job growth fails to encourage investors. The Dow Jones industrial average drops 185 points. By Business Writer Steve Rothwell.

AP Photo.

â¿¿ OIL PRICES â¿¿ Oil climbs nearly $1 to finish at $86.32 a barrel on new concerns about possible supply disruptions in the Middle East after Israel launched airstrikes in Gaza.


Modest good news for college students: An annual survey predicts employers will increase hiring of new 4-year college graduates about 5 percent in the coming year. Demand for graduates with associate's degrees is expected to increase more sharply â¿¿ by about 30 percent compared to last year's surveyâ¿¿ while MBA hiring appears headed for an unexpected decline. By Education Writer Justin Pope.

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SEATTLE â¿¿ Starbucks wants to make the tea shop as ubiquitous as its namesake cafes. The Seattle-based company says that it will pay $620 million in cash to buy Teavana Holdings Inc., which sells high-end loose leaf teas in 300 shopping mall locations. The plan is to expand Teavana's footprint beyond the mall with stand-alone shops, adding tea bars with specialty drinks.


SAN FRANCISCO â¿¿California begins auctioning permits for greenhouse gas emissions, launching one of the world's most ambitious efforts to cut heat-trapping gases from industrial sources. By Jason Dearen.

AP photos


WASHINGTON â¿¿ The head of the Food and Drug Administration asks Congress for more authority to police pharmacies like the one that triggered a deadly meningitis outbreak, even as lawmakers questioned why the agency didn't do more with its existing powers. By Health Writer Matthew Perrone.

AP Photo.

â¿¿ ALGAE BIOFUEL STATIONS â¿¿ Drivers in the San Francisco Bay Area are the first in the nation to fill up their gas tanks with an algae-based biofuel.

â¿¿ WAL-MART-SUBSCRIPTION SERVICE â¿¿ Wal-Mart launches a food subscription service called Goodies.

â¿¿ OVERSEAS SHIPHOLDING-BANKRUPTCY â¿¿ Tanker operator Overseas Shipholding files for Ch. 11 bankruptcy protection.

â¿¿ WIND TAX CREDIT â¿¿ 28 governors call on Congress to renew wind energy tax credit due to expire at year's end.

â¿¿ EARNS-ABERCROMBIE & FITCH â¿¿ Abercrombie & Fitch Co.'s stock are surging after the teen retailer raised its full-year earnings guidance.

â¿¿ BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY-NEWSPAPER CLOSINGâ¿¿ Warren Buffett's company is planning to close a small Virginia newspaper that it bought from Media General earlier this year.



WASHINGTON â¿¿ The government should require automakers to make the latest collision prevention technologies standard equipment on all new cars and trucks, a move that could reduce fatal highway accidents by more than half, federal accident investigators say. By Joan Lowy.

AP Photos.


TOKYO â¿¿ Toyota Motor Corp. is recalling 2.8 million vehicles around the world for a water pump problem and a steering shaft defect that may result in faulty steering â¿¿ the latest in a spate of quality woes for Japan's top automaker. By Business Writer Yuri Kageyama.



NEW YORK â¿¿ When I first turned on Google's new tablet computer, I immediately thought of it as a media player â¿¿and the latest incarnation of Google's effort to challenge Apple and Amazon by selling digital movies, books and other content. Because of that emphasis, I wasn't thinking of it as an alternative to Apple's general-purpose iPad â¿¿even with a price tag that's $100 cheaper, starting at $399. But after more thought and time with the Nexus, I came to realize it works as a general-purpose tablet, too. By Technology Writer Anick Jesdanun.

AP Photos.




LOS ANGELES â¿¿ A California lawyer is suing Microsoft Corp., claiming the Surface tablet he bought doesn't have all the storage space the company advertised. By Business Writer Ryan Nakashima.

AP Photo.

â¿¿ AP-DPA AGREEMENT â¿¿ The Associated Press and Germany's largest news agency, dpa, have signed a deal to sell each other's news stories and photos in several countries and territories in Europe and around the world.

â¿¿ TEXAS INSTRUMENTS-JOB CUTS â¿¿ Chipmaker Texas Instruments Inc. says that it will eliminate about 1,700 jobs as it trims spending in its wireless business.

â¿¿ PINTEREST-BUSINESSES â¿¿ Pinterest is separating business accounts from personal ones, a move that could be an early step toward making money.

â¿¿ GERMANY-INFINEON â¿¿ German chip-maker Infineon says it will cut costs and introduce short-time work as revenue falls.



BRUSSELS â¿¿ Hundreds of thousands of Europeans go on strike across the continent, at times clashing with riot police, as they demand that governments stop cutting benefits and create more jobs. Workers speak from the heart about a "social emergency" crippling the world's largest economic bloc, a union of 27 nations and half a billion people. By Raf Casert.

AP Photos, Video, Interactive.


â¿¿ EUROPE-AUSTERITY-VOICES â¿¿ Millions of people have taken to the streets and gone on strike to protest government budget cuts and tax increases in the three years since the European debt crisis began. They haven't been shy with their opinions.

â¿¿ FRANCE-NUTELLA TAX â¿¿ First the French government went after the rich. Now it has it in for Nutella. Despite an outcry in support of the beloved chocolate and hazelnut spread, the Senate passed a measure Wednesday that would triple the tax on palm and some other vegetable oils in the hope of cutting down on obesity.

â¿¿ EU-WOMEN IN BOARDROOMS â¿¿ The European Commission wants more women in the boardrooms of large European companies, saying it's a matter not only of fairness but of good business sense.

â¿¿ BRITAIN-ECONOMY â¿¿ The head of the Bank of England says Britain's weak economy may shrink in the last three months of the year and growth will remain sluggish into 2013.

â¿¿ ITALY-FINANCIAL CRISISâ¿¿ Italy raises $6.4 billion in a bond sale but finds lukewarm demand from investors for longer-term debt. Meanwhile, investors treat German debt as a safe haven, with a German debt sale Wednesday generating a negative interest rate.



CHICAGO â¿¿ Black Friday deals are starting early this year, and that means more pressure to spend spend spend. As the holiday shopping season expands and retailers make impulse buys ever-easier with your smartphone, consumers have to be extra-disciplined to avoid money trouble. We present tips on how to prevent Black Friday and the days surrounding it from dooming you to too much debt. By Personal Finance Writer Dave Carpenter.

â¿¿ FAMILY FINANCE SURVEY â¿¿ Let's Talk: Survey finds parents and their adult children can't agree on basic financial planning, with conflicting expectations on elder care, retirement security and inheritance.


BOSTON â¿¿ Investors pulled more money out of mutual funds in October than they put in, for the eighth month in a row while bond funds continued to attract new cash, industry consultant Strategic Insight said on Thursday. Investors remained nervous about the stock market last month amid an election campaign and worries about potential year-end tax increases. By Personal Finance Writer Mark Jewell



A taxing December

Taxes on capital gains are scheduled to jump next year unless Congress makes a change. The last two times rates went up by a similar amount, stocks fell in the month before the tax change as investors sold to lock in the lower rate.


Teen rally

Abercrombie & Fitch has been struggling to sell its preppy jeans and T-shirts with fashion trends shifting in a rough economy. But its efforts to fix its merchandise are gaining traction. The retailer raised its full-year earnings forecast Wednesday as it reported a strong third quarter, sending its stock surging.

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