BC-US--Business Features Digest, US

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WALL STREET WEEK AHEAD

NEW YORK â¿¿ The great engine of global growth, the American consumer, is starting to sputter. Retail sales are falling, consumer confidence is sagging and financial analysts are cutting profit forecasts for clothes chains, department stores and restaurants. Consumers seem vulnerable, and so do the stocks of companies that sell "discretionary" goods that people can delay buying in tough times. Stocks of those companies have mostly shrugged off the bad news. But some are beginning to cool. By Business Writer Bernard Condon.

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GOOGLE-TECH VISIONS

SAN FRANCISCO â¿¿ Some illuminating books already have been written about Google's catalytic role in the technological upheaval that is redefining the way people work, play and communicate. Until, now, though, there hasn't been a book providing an unfiltered look at the accelerating pace of digitally driven change from inside Google's brain trust. Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, who spent a decade as the company's CEO, shares his ruminations and visions of a radically different future in "The New Digital Age," a book that goes on sale Tuesday. By Technology Writer Michael Liedtke.

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AMAZON STUDIO

SANTA MONICA, Calif. â¿¿ Amazon.com is giving viewers a chance to vote on its lineup of new TV shows, scuttling a secretive, money-wasting process once reserved for Hollywood taste-makers. The online retailing giant will let visitors from the U.S, U.K. and Germany watch, rate and critique 14 pilot episodes the company has bankrolled. Viewer comments will help the company decide which ones â¿¿if anyâ¿¿ get the green light. Amazon's foray into TV production is unique in the way it saves money. Every spring, as part of a rather wasteful Hollywood ritual, networks like ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox order dozens of pilots, only to have a handful made into series. By Business Writer Ryan Nakashima.

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