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NEW YORK â¿¿ Citigroup is cutting 11,000 jobs and closing bank branches, a bold early move by new CEO Michael Corbat. The cuts amount to about 4 percent of Citi's workforce. Most of them, about 6,200, will come from Citi's consumer banking unit, which handles everyday functions like branches and checking accounts. Citi said it expects the cuts to save $900 million next year, and slightly more in the following years, but there will be short-term pain: Citi said it expects to record pretax charges of approximately $1 billion in the fourth quarter. By Business Writer Christina Rexrode.

AP photo.


NEW YORK â¿¿ Another Starbucks may soon pop up around the corner, with the world's biggest coffee company planning to add at least 1,500 cafes in the U.S. over the next five years. Worldwide, the company says it will have more than 20,000 cafes by 2014, up from its current count of about 18,000. Much of that growth will come from China, which the company says will surpass Canada as its second-biggest market. By Food Industry Writer Candice Choi.

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NEW YORK â¿¿ Many small business owners whose companies were devastated by Superstorm Sandy need money to rebuild, and if they don't get it soon, they could be faced with closing their doors forever. Low-interest loans are available to some owners, but taking on debt is one of the last things they want to do as they try to recover from the storm in an already challenging economy. For many, a grant that doesn't have to be repaid is a better option â¿¿ and after the Sept. 11 attacks and Hurricane Katrina, many small business owners were saved by these kinds of funds. But so far, grant money for small businesses hurt by Sandy is relatively scarce. By Business Writer Joyce M. Rosenberg.

AP photos.


MADRID â¿¿ Maria Menendez, a 25-year-old caught in Spain's job-destroying economic crisis, would love to work in Germany as a veterinarian. Germany, facing an acute shortage of skilled workers, would love to have her. A perfect match, it seems, but something's holding her back: She doesn't speak German. The European Union was built on a grand vision of free labor markets in which talent could be matched with demand in a seamless and efficient manner. But today only 3 percent of working-age EU citizens live in a different EU country. As young people in crisis-hit southern Europe face unemployment rates hovering at 50 percent, many find themselves caught in a language trap, unable to communicate in the powerhouse economy that needs their skills the most. By Frank Jordans and Alan Clendenning.

AP photos.


SEOUL, South Korea â¿¿ As "Gangnam Style" gallops toward 1 billion views on YouTube, PSY, the first Asian pop artist to capture a massive global audience, has gotten richer click by click. But the money from music sales isn't flowing in from the rapper's homeland, South Korea, or elsewhere in Asia. By Youkyung Lee and Ryan Nakashima.

AP photos.



WASHINGTON â¿¿ There's growing support for the idea of raising taxes for the highest-income Americans as President Barack Obama wants, an Associated Press-GfK poll shows. People prefer cutting government services to raising taxes to curb federal deficits, but where to cut? There's reluctance to trim Social Security, Medicare and military programs. The findings appear to bolster Obama's leverage in his fiscal cliff duel with Republicans. By Alan Fram and Jennifer Agiesta.


â¿¿ FISCAL CLIFF â¿¿ President Barack Obama warns Republicans not to seek deeper cuts in government spending in exchange for raising the government's borrowing limit as part of complex "fiscal cliff" negotiations. The second-ranking House Republican says his side wants to sit down with the president to explore chances for a deal. By Special Correspondent David Espo.


WASHINGTON â¿¿ It may be just a bluff or a bargaining ploy, but the White House is signaling that President Barack Obama is willing to let the country go over the "fiscal cliff", a hard-line negotiating strategy aimed at winning concessions from Republicans on taxes. By Julie Pace.



WASHINGTON â¿¿ The combination of U.S. employers shut down by Superstorm Sandy and anxiety over the looming "fiscal cliff" of tax increases and spending cuts likely slowed hiring sharply in November. A private survey shows that companies added fewer workers last month than in October. Still, most analysts say the underlying economy remains healthy and is creating jobs at a modest but steady pace. A more comprehensive picture will emerge Friday, when the government issues its November jobs report. Incorporates BC-US--ADP. By Economics Writer Christopher S. Rugaber.


â¿¿ ECONOMY-SERVICES â¿¿ U.S. service companies grew at a slightly faster pace in November because sales and new orders rose, a good sign for the economy.


WASHINGTON â¿¿ Orders to U.S. factories rose modestly in October, helped by a big gain in demand for equipment that reflects business investment plans. Orders for core capital goods, a category viewed as a good proxy for business investment plans, increased 2.9 percent in October, the biggest increase in eight months. By Economics Writer Martin Crutsinger.

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WASHINGTON â¿¿ U.S. workers were more productive this summer than initially thought, while costing their companies less. The Labor Department says productivity grew at an annual rate of 2.9 percent from July through September. That's the fastest pace in two years and up from an initial estimate of 1.9 percent. Labor costs dropped at a rate of 1.9 percent, more than the 0.1 percent dip initially estimated. By Economics Writer Martin Crutsinger.

AP photo.

â¿¿ CLIMATE TALKS â¿¿ The head of the United Nations says that rich countries are to blame for climate change and should take the lead in forging a global climate pact by 2015.

â¿¿ CLIMATE TALKS-MIDDLE EAST â¿¿ World Bank: Climate change will hit Middle East and North Africa especially hard.


NEW YORK â¿¿ Stocks close higher, their first gain of the week, as bank shares rise and comments by President Barack Obama make investors optimistic that a quick deal could be made to avoid the "fiscal cliff." By Business Writer Steve Rothwell.

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â¿¿ OIL PRICES â¿¿ Oil prices fall below $88 a barrel after the government reports that stocks of crude are still running much higher than usual for this time of year.


LOS ANGELES â¿¿ Sales of U.S. homes facing foreclosure increased sharply in the third quarter, edging out sales of bank-owned homes, a reflection of stepped up efforts by lenders this year to avoid foreclosing on homes with mortgages gone unpaid. Even so, foreclosure-related sales made about the same share of all home sales during the July-to-September period, according to foreclosure tracker RealtyTrac Inc. By Alex Veiga. Eds: The story may not be published, broadcast or posted online before 12:01 a.m. EST on Thursday.



NEW YORK â¿¿ Mining company Freeport-McMoRan is buying a pair of oil and gas producers for $9 billion, creating a natural resources conglomerate with assets ranging from oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico to mines in Indonesia. Freeport, based in Phoenix, is paying $6.9 billion in cash and stock for Plains Exploration Co., and $2.1 billion for McMoRan Exploration Co. Freeport will also assume $11 billion in debt in the deal. By Business Writers Jonathan Fahey and Sandy Shore.


LOS ANGELES â¿¿ Port workers return to work at the nation's busiest port complex, satisfied their jobs won't be outsourced to places like Arizona or China. Their crippling, eight-day strike had a ripple effect across the nation, costing the economy billions and holding up the delivery of everything from clothing to repair parts for Redbox video kiosks. By John Rogers.

AP photos.


Breast cancer patients taking the drug tamoxifen can cut their chances of having the disease come back or kill them if they stay on the pills for 10 years instead of the recommended five, a major study finds. The results could change treatment for many women. By Chief Medical Writer Marilynn Marchione.


NEW YORK â¿¿ The owner of Olive Garden and Red Lobster says it won't bump any full-time workers down to part-time status in near term, after its tests aimed at limiting health care costs resulted in a publicity backlash that took a bite out of sales. But Darden Restaurants Inc. isn't ruling out relying more heavily on part-timers over the long haul. By Food Industry Writer Candice Choi.

â¿¿ BABY RECLINER-DEATHS â¿¿ The government is taking action against the makers of a portable baby recliner called the Nap Nanny after five infant deaths.

â¿¿ HONG KONG-HSBC-PING AN â¿¿ HBSC is selling its 15.6 percent stake in China's Ping An Insurance to a Thai conglomerate for about $9.4 billion.

â¿¿ BRITAIN-TESCO â¿¿ Tesco, Britain's biggest retailer, is reviewing options for its slow-growing U.S. operation Fresh & Easy, saying goodbye to the unit's CEO.



CHARLESTON, W.Va. â¿¿ When I'm traveling, I'm constantly checking the weather for the hours and days ahead because deciding to hike on a rainy day or neglecting to dress warmly can put a damper on a vacation. I tried several free weather apps for the iPhone and Android phones. By Technology Writer Anick Jesdanun.

AP photos.

â¿¿ EU-TUBE CARTEL â¿¿ The EU fines seven companies â¿¿ including Philips, LG and Panasonic â¿¿ $2 billion for rigging the market for tubes in TV and computer screens.

â¿¿ SKOREA-SAMSUNG-HEIR â¿¿ Samsung promotes chairman's son, putting him one step closer to the top leadership post.

â¿¿ AMAZON-KIDS â¿¿ Amazon is launching a subscription service for children's games, videos and books that is aimed at getting more kids to use its Kindle Fire tablet devices.



BERLIN â¿¿ The countries worst hit by the European financial crisis are also perceived as being among the most corrupt in the European Union, says a new report. Transparency International's annual Corruption Perceptions Index shows Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece with the lowest scores in western Europe. By David Rising.

â¿¿ EUROPE-ECONOMY â¿¿ The eurozone's retail sales slumped more than anticipated in October, largely due to a drop in Germany. The decline will put more pressure on the European Central Bank to cut borrowing rates soon.

â¿¿ BRITAIN-BUDGET â¿¿ Britain's Treasury says the U.K. economy is taking longer than expected to recover and warns of more spending cuts to get the country's public finances under control.

â¿¿ AUSTRALIA-ECONOMY â¿¿ Australia's economic growth slows in the third quarter due to falling prices for iron ore and coal as Chinese industrial demand cools.

â¿¿ INDIA-POLITICS â¿¿ The Indian government wins a vote in in parliament's powerful lower house that backs its plans to open up the country's massive retail sector to international big-box companies such as Wal-Mart.

â¿¿ CHINA-FACTORY FIRE â¿¿ A former worker tells state media he set the fire that killed 14 young workers at a Chinese undergarment factory because he was angry about less than $500 in unpaid wages.

â¿¿ FRANCE-HIDDEN ACCOUNT? â¿¿ French budget minister suing website that claims he hid cash in offshore Swiss account.

â¿¿ US-RUSSIA-TRADE â¿¿ The Senate takes up legislation that would end four-decade-old trade restrictions that are blocking U.S. businesses from enjoying the benefits of a more open Russian market.


BORISOV, Belarus â¿¿ Belarus' authoritarian president, Alexander Lukashenko, has decided to stem an exodus of qualified workers to Russia, starting by banning those who work in wood-processing industries from quitting. Critics have compared the measure to serfdom and warned that it would only deepen the former Soviet republic's economic troubles and fuel protests against Lukashenko. By Yuras Karmanau.


TSOGTTSETSII, Mongolia â¿¿ Mongolia broke ground this spring for a railroad that will haul coal across the pebbled Gobi desert to China, but with one costly condition. Citing national security, the government ordered the rails be laid 1,520 millimeters apart. The width ensures that the rails cannot connect to China's, which are 85 millimeters closer together. When it comes to China, Mongolia will only go so far and no further. In the world's rush to get rich off China, Mongolia works mightily to ensure that Chinese investment does not become Chinese dominance. By Charles Hutzler.

Eds: This story is part of "China's Reach," an AP global project tracking China's influence on its trading partners over three decades and its changes to business, politics and daily life.

AP photos, interactive



Walgreens wants to reward customers for merely taking a walk, and Rite Aid will help cover gym memberships for some of its frequent shoppers. All the national drugstore chains now offer free customer loyalty programs loaded with incentives to use their cards. Experts say these cards are worth considering for frequent shoppers, as long as consumers don't mind sacrificing some privacy and remember that drugstores can be pricey. Here are some things to think about before a store clerk asks you to sign up during your next visit. By Business Writer Tom Murphy.


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Remember the time

It wasn't known at the time, but five years ago this month the Great Recession began. The National Bureau of Economic Research wouldn't make its official declaration until December 2008. The Standard & Poor's 500 index plunged 54 percent from the eve of the Great Recession through March 9, 2009. The market has since more than doubled and is now just 5 percent below where it was on Nov. 30, 2007. But that belies a stark contrast between the winners and losers over the last five years.


Starbucks to open 1,500 cafes

The world's biggest coffee company is getting bigger. Starbucks plans to open at least 1,500 cafes in the U.S. over the next five years.

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