Business Highlights

By The Associated Press

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Discounts abound as stores try to salvage season

NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ When it comes to fat holiday discounts, better late than never.

This holiday shopping season, many stores haven't been offering the same blockbuster deals as they did last year. Instead, they've dangled offers of free shipping and no-fee layaways to lure shoppers.

But during the final weekend before Christmas, shoppers should expect to see more "70 percent off" and "buy one, get one free" signs as stores try to salvage a season that so far has been disappointing.

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No more Government Motors: US selling GM shares

DETROIT (AP) â¿¿ The U.S. government's foray into the car business is slowly coming to an end.

The Treasury Department said Wednesday that it will sell its remaining stake in General Motors in the next year or so, winding down a $50 billion bailout that saved the iconic American car giant but also set off a heated debate about government intervention in private business that even influenced this year's presidential election.

Taxpayers will lose money on the deal, but it gets the government out of the car business. GM has done well over the past three years, piling up $16 billion in profits as car sales bounced back. Now it looks forward to losing the stigma of government ownership â¿¿ including the derisive moniker "Government Motors" â¿¿ that it claims cost it sales since it left bankruptcy protection in 2009.

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Government issues new online child privacy rules

WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ New online child privacy rules will keep anonymous advertisers and marketers from siphoning personal information about preteens but won't restrain innovation among technology companies and businesses that rely on the Internet to reach consumers, government officials said Wednesday.

But those assurances failed to win over software developers who said the cost of complying with the new regulations and the risk of violating them will cause many responsible businesses to abandon the children's marketplace.

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