BC-Business News Digest

Business News at 5:30 p.m.

The supervisor is Richard Jacobsen (800-845-8450, ext. 1680). For photos, ext. 1900. For graphics and interactives, ext. 7636. Expanded AP content can be obtained from http://www.apexchange.com. For access to AP Exchange and other technical issues, contact customersupport(at)ap.org or call 877-836-9477.

If you have questions about transmission of financial market listings, please call 800-3AP-STOX.

A selection of top photos can be found at: http://bit.ly/APTopPhotos .






NEW YORK â¿¿ Investors are shunning some of the nation's largest gun makers in the aftermath of the Connecticut school shooting, including a large private equity firm that plans to sell the manufacturer of the Bushmaster rifle used in the attack. The firm Cerberus called the bloodbath a "watershed event" in the debate on gun control. Shares of Smith & Wesson and Sturm, Ruger & Co. fell sharply. In stores, at least one major gun seller, Dick's Sporting Goods, suspended sales of modern sporting rifles. By Joshua Freed. Incorporates BC-US--Cerberus-Freedom Group.

AP Photo.


â¿¿GUN RIGHTS-ADVOCATES â¿¿Holiday shoppers wandering through rows of assault rifles and pistols at the Kittery Trading Post in Maine are concerned about losing gun rights, but also seem more open to limits on semi-automatic weapons. In a region where gun ownership has long been celebrated, a subtle shift may be under way after the school shootings. By Steve Peoples.


WASHINGTON â¿¿ With negotiations at a fever pitch, President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner push ahead on a possible broad deal to avert the fiscal cliff, even as the GOP leader readies a temporary 'Plan B' tax plan to pressure the White House. There's little time left to avoid a double hit on the economy. By Andrew Taylor.

AP photo, video


â¿¿FISCAL CLIFF-GLANCE â¿¿ A look at the latest offers from Obama, Boehner.

â¿¿ FISCAL CLIFF-DAIRY PRICES â¿¿ As fiscal cliff nears, farmers worry a lack of agreement could lead to volatile dairy prices.


NEW YORK â¿¿ Facebook isn't just for goofy pictures and silly chatter. Whether shoppers know it or not, their actions online are helping dictate what pops up in stores this holiday season. After polling fans on the social media site, Macy's decided to carry denim jeans in bright neon hues rather than pastels. Wal-Mart for the first time is letting customers vote on which toys they want discounted. And to better plan orders for the next holiday season, a small business owner in Mississippi is running a contest encouraging customers to chime in about how they're decorating their homes this winter. By Business Writer Candice Choi.

AP photos.


NEW YORK â¿¿ When the Justice Department announced its record $1.9 billion settlement against British bank HSBC last week, prosecutors called it a powerful blow to a dysfunctional institution accused of laundering money for Iran, Libya and Mexico's murderous drug cartels. But to some former federal prosecutors, it was only the latest case of the government stopping short of bringing criminal money laundering charges against a big bank or its executives, at least in part on the rationale that such prosecutions could be devastating enough to cause such banks to fail. By Christina Rexrode And Larry Neumeister.


WASHINGTON â¿¿ A cellphone game for kids about U.S. geography, "Stack the States," gets rave reviews from parents. Its creator, Dan Russell-Pinson, considered making the 99-cent app better by adding a feature to allow children to play online against one another. But with the Federal Trade Commission issuing more stringent online child privacy rules, he's not even pursuing the idea.The software industry is bracing for new regulations that it says will stifle creativity and saddle small businesses with legal and technical costs to ensure their cellphone apps don't run afoul of the rules. The changes, which the FTC is expected to approve this week, would update a 14-year-old law prohibiting the collection of personal information from preteens. It raises these questions: What is the value of a child's privacy on the Internet, and who should pay for it? By Richard Lardner.

AP photos



WASHINGTON â¿¿ The U.S. current account trade deficit narrowed in the July-September quarter to the smallest level since late 2010, but the improvement may not last if a global slowdown dampens demand for American exports. The Commerce Department says the deficit fell to $107.5 billion in the third quarter, down 9 percent from the second quarter imbalance of $118.1 billion. Economists watch the current account, the broadest measure of trade, as a sign of how much the United States needs to borrow from foreigners. By Martin Crutsinger.

â¿¿ BUILDER SENTIMENT â¿¿ Confidence among U.S. homebuilders inched upward this month to the highest level in more than six and a half years as builders reported the best market for newly built homes since the housing boom. The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index increased to 47, up 2 points from a revised 45 in November. That's the highest reading since April 2006, just before the housing bubble burst.


CARSON CITY, Nev. â¿¿ Walter Samaszko Jr. was a loner whose death earlier this year of heart problems received little attention. That all changed when a housekeeping crew sent to clean out his modest ranch-style home started finding piles of gold. Ammunition boxes stuffed with gold coins. Gold bullion. Enough gold to fill up two wheel barrows. Local officials began an extensive genealogical search to find an heir to the fortune, and they found a substitute teacher in California who is a first cousin. On Tuesday, she officially inherits the fortune and becomes a millionaire. By Scott Sonner.

AP Photos.


NEW YORK â¿¿ Stocks climbed on Wall Street Tuesday, pushing the Standard and Poor's 500 to its highest level in two months, on optimism that lawmakers are closing in on a budget deal that will stop the U.S. from going over the "fiscal cliff" at the beginning of next year.

â¿¿ OIL PRICES â¿¿ The price of oil climbs to finish near $88 a barrel on a growing belief that political leaders in Washington could soon reach a compromise to head off the dreaded "fiscal cliff."

â¿¿ SEC-THESTREET-SETTLEMENT â¿¿ The company that operates the financial news website TheStreet.com and three executives have settled federal civil charges of accounting fraud.



DETROIT â¿¿ The U.S. government has slapped Toyota with a record $17.4 million fine for failing once again to quickly report problems to federal regulators and for delaying a safety recall. By Auto Writer Tom Krisher.

â¿¿ AMGEN GUILTY PLEA â¿¿ Amgen will pay $762 million to settle litigation that accuses the drugmaker of marketing the anemia drug Aranesp for unapproved uses.

â¿¿ CONOCOPHILLIPS-ALGERIA SALE â¿¿ ConocoPhillips, as part of its massive downsizing effort, agrees to sell its Algerian unit to Indonesia's state-owned oil and gas company for $1.75B.

â¿¿ IRELAND-RYANAIR-AER LINGUS â¿¿ The Irish government announced Tuesday it won't sell its 25 percent stake in Aer Lingus to Ryanair because a merged airline would be likely to undermine competition and jobs at the former state carrier.

â¿¿ AMERICAN RAILCAR-GREENBRIER â¿¿ Carl Icahn is again trying to bring together railcar makers American Railcar and Greenbrier. American Railcar, which he controls, has offered to buy Greenbrier for $542.9 million.

â¿¿ CZECH-BUD WARS â¿¿ AP Interview: A Czech brewer rejects the latest offer to settle a 106-year fight with the world's biggest beer maker over the right to put the word Budweiser on their bottles. AP photos

â¿¿ GERMANY-GUMMY BEAR BATTLE â¿¿ A German gummy bear is taking on a foil-wrapped Swiss chocolate teddy in a legal showdown. A German court decides on a complaint brought by Germany's Haribo against Switzerland's Lindt over alleged trademark violations.

â¿¿ HONG KONG-AIG-AIA STOCK SALE â¿¿ AIG has sold its remaining stake in Asian life insurer AIA Group for $6.4 billion.



SAN FRANCISCO â¿¿ Instagram, the popular photo-sharing service that Facebook bought earlier this year, is the target of a storm of outrage on Twitter and other sites after a change in its user agreement hinted that it might use shared photos in ads.? By Barbara Ortutay.


SAN FRANCISCO â¿¿ A judge rejects Apple's demand that Samsung, its chief smartphone rival, stop selling models that a jury recently found illegally used Apple's technology. By Paul Elias.

â¿¿ SYRIA-NBC ENGEL â¿¿ NBC's chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel and several colleagues escape after being kidnapped and held by captors inside Syria for five days. AP photos


Oracle's latest quarterly earnings rose 18 percent as companies splurged on more software and other technology toward the end of the year. The results announced Tuesday are an improvement from Oracle's previous quarter, when the business software maker's revenue dipped slightly from a year earlier. Oracle is the first technology bellwether to provide insights into corporate spending since the Nov. 6 re-election of President Barack Obama and negotiations to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff began to heat up in Washington. By Mike Liedtke.

AP Photo.

â¿¿NIELSEN-ARBITRON â¿¿ Seeking to broaden its business to areas like Internet radio, TV ratings and consumer research provider Nielsen is buying Arbitron for $1.26 billion.

â¿¿ BRITAIN-SOCIAL MEDIA, HFR â¿¿ British government prosecutors have set out new guidelines to make it harder to bring legal cases against people who send offensive messages on Twitter and Facebook. HOLD FOR RELEASE UNTIL 12:01 A.M. GMT.

â¿¿ FRANCE-TEXAS INSTRUMENTS â¿¿ Chipmaker Texas Instruments to cut 517 jobs in France as focus shifts away from smartphones.

â¿¿ ISRAEL-GOOGLE â¿¿ Israel teams with Google to launch digital library of 5,000 Dead Sea Scroll images.

â¿¿ GERMANY-FACEBOOK â¿¿ Facebook will fight German demand to allow users to register with fake names.

â¿¿IRAN-KHAMENEI-FACEBOOK â¿¿ A Facebook page purportedly created by Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei attracts nearly 10,000 followers, although the site's content and style raise questions about its authenticity.



LONDON â¿¿ British electrical retailer Comet has opened its doors for the final time after nearly 80 years. The last 49 stores of what was a 235-strong chain are closing after Comet's new owners failed to deal with a sour British economy and the online shopping revolution. Its demise will cost 6,900 people their jobs.


SEOUL, South Korea â¿¿ South Korea's presidential election campaign has highlighted discontent with the family-controlled industrial conglomerates that dominate the country's economic life. The two main candidates promise a tougher line but neither is likely to tinker too much with a model that transformed South Korea into a global business power. By Youkyung Lee.

â¿¿ GREECE-FINANCIAL CRISIS â¿¿ Standard & Poor's ratings agency on Tuesday upgraded Greece's credit grade by 6 notches to B-, yanking the debt-heavy country out of default but still keeping its devalued bonds in junk status.

â¿¿ CYPRUS-FINANCIAL CRISIS â¿¿ Cyprus' finance ministry says the government has secured enough money to cover its immediate financial needs and that there's "no issue" of not paying workers' salaries this month.

â¿¿ GERMANY-AIR BERLIN â¿¿ Lossmaking German carrier Air Berlin sells 70 percent of its frequent flyer program to Abu Dhabi's Etihad for $243 million.

â¿¿ FRANCE-DEPARDIEU â¿¿ Belgium's foreign minister says his country will welcome anyone from France who wants to follow actor Gerard Depardieu in escaping higher taxes.


A sampling of Money & Markets modules is below. The full digest for AP's Money & Markets service can be found at markets.ap.org. For questions about Money & Markets content, please contact Trevor Delaney (800-845-8450, ext. 1807). For technical support: Todd Balog (816-654-1096). After 6 p.m., contact the AP Business News desk (800-845-8450, ext. 1680) for content questions; 1-800-3AP-STOX for technical support and 212-621-1905 for graphics help.


A top pick for 2013

For the last several years, Sabrient Systems, an investment research firm in Santa Barbara, Calif., has offered a "Baker's Dozen" list of 13 top-ranked stocks for the year ahead. The Baker's Dozen picks for 2012 are up an average 41 percent compared with a 12 percent climb in the Standard & Poor's 500 index. David Brown, Sabrient's chief market strategist, offers a peek at the 2013 list. The top selection: Kohlberg, Kravis, Roberts & Company.


Coca-Cola Enterprises 2013 outlook

Bottling company Coca-Cola Enterprises expects earnings per share will climb about 10 percent next year.


Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

More from Personal Finance

When Is the FAFSA Deadline and What Are the Application Requirements?

When Is the FAFSA Deadline and What Are the Application Requirements?

This Should Be Your Retirement Savings Plan When the Stock Market Crashes

This Should Be Your Retirement Savings Plan When the Stock Market Crashes

Former General Electric CEO Jack Welch Has 4 Tips to Getting a Promotion

Former General Electric CEO Jack Welch Has 4 Tips to Getting a Promotion

What Is Neymar's Net Worth?

What Is Neymar's Net Worth?

How to Make a Fortune Like Microsoft Billionaire Founder Bill Gates

How to Make a Fortune Like Microsoft Billionaire Founder Bill Gates