Business Highlights

By The Associated Press

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US economy gets lift from housing, other tailwinds

WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ The U.S. economy is a study in contrasts.

The housing, banking and auto industries are surging back to health and that has helped push the stock market to a five-year peak. Higher prices for homes and stocks tend to make people feel wealthier and spend more.

Yet unemployment remains high and hiring modest. The end of a Social Security tax cut is shrinking already flat pay. Federal budget fights have put businesses and consumers on edge.

Balanced between those tailwinds and headwinds, the economy is struggling to accelerate. By the end of this year, though, many analysts think the tailwinds will succeed in boosting growth and fueling a more robust economy in 2014.

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They're back: J. C. Penney adds sales

NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ J.C. Penney is bringing back sales.

The struggling department store chain this week will begin adding back some of the hundreds of sales it ditched last year in hopes of luring shoppers who were turned off when the discounts disappeared, CEO Ron Johnson told The Associated Press.

Penney also plans to add price tags or signs for more than half of its merchandise to show customers how much they're saving by shopping at the chain â¿¿ a strategy used by a few other retailers. For store branded items such as Arizona, Penney will show comparison prices from competitors.

The moves are a reversal for Penney on the eve of the one-year anniversary when it vowed to almost completely get rid of the sales that Americans covet but that cut into a store's profits. The idea was to offer everyday low prices that customers could count on rather than the nearly 600 fleeting discounts, coupons and sales it once offered.

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