BC-US--Business Features Digest, US

The business news enterprise package planned through April 23. For comments or questions, call Joseph Pisani at 212-621-1975. For questions about photos, call ext. 1900. For questions about graphics, call ext. 7636. Repeats of stories are available from http://apexchange.com or the Service Desk, 1-800-838-4616.

Eds: Adds WALL STREET WEEK AHEAD; GOOGLE-TECH VISIONS, will be sent Sunday for use anytime; DIGITAL LIFE-TECH TEST-TWITTER MUSIC; ON THE MONEY-CRUISE VACATIONS

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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AP photos.

EUROPE-SINKING AUTO SALES

MILAN â¿¿ Europe's auto market is in freefall. Once the motor for Europe's economy, the car industry has fallen victim to the region's widening recession and soaring unemployment. Carmakers have suffered 18 straight months of declining sales as people worried that they might soon be out of a job put off making big purchases. Even in Germany, one of Europe's strongest economies, new car sales plunged 13 percent during the first three months of the year. By Business Writer Colleen Barry.

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AP photos.

BOOKS-SELF-PUBLISHED STAR

DALLAS â¿¿ After a feverish month of inspiration, Colleen Hoover had finally fulfilled her dream of writing a book. With family and friends asking to read the emotional tale of first love, the married mother of three young boys living in rural East Texas and working 11-hour days as a social worker decided to digitally self-publish on Amazon, where they could download it for free for a week. By July, she was on The New York Times best-seller list for e-books. By fall, she had sold the movie rights. By Jamie Stengle.

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AP photos.

SPAIN-HORSE CALAMITY

ALMONTE, Spain â¿¿ The southern Spanish region of Andalusia, famed for flamenco and Moorish castles, is also home to a legendary breed of horses that carried conquistadors into battle in the Americas, have been featured in Hollywood epics and more recently became trophy acquisitions for Spaniards during a giddy economic boom. On his grassy ranch in the territory's heartland, Francisco Mesa breeds these "Pura Raza Espanola" â¿¿ Pure Spanish Breed â¿¿ with a passion that comes from years of pampering them. He enters a muddy pen and is surrounded by mares and foals who nuzzle him with tenderness, oblivious of their almost certain fate: the slaughterhouse. Barring an unlikely reprieve, Mesa's purebreds will be turned into horse meat for export â¿¿ victims of a wrenching economic downturn. By Alan Clendenning.

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AP photos.

CHINA-AUTO SHOW

SHANGHAI â¿¿ These should be good times for Chinese automakers as they prepare to show off their latest models at the Shanghai auto show. Their home market is the world's biggest and growing. But independent automakers such as Chery and Geely are being squeezed by bigger, richer global rivals including General Motors and Nissan that have moved into turf that the Chinese makers considered their own: low-priced models for local tastes. By Business Writer Joe McDonald.

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AP photos.

ICELAND-NOT KISSING COUSINS

REYKJAVIK, Iceland â¿¿ You meet someone, there's chemistry, and then there are the introductory questions: What's your name? Come here often? Are you my cousin? In Iceland, a country with a population of 320,000, inadvertently kissing cousins is a real risk, but a new smartphone app helps Icelanders avoid accidental incest. By Jenna Gottlieb and Jill Lawless.

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COLUMNS:

SMALLBIZ-SMALL TALK

NEW YORK â¿¿ She could save money, and there's a good chance she wouldn't get caught, but Consuelo Gomez says she won't hire people who aren't authorized to work in the U.S. to work for her cleaning and landscaping business. Gomez believes she's being undercut by competitors that hire workers who are in the U.S. without permission from the government. If her suspicions are correct, she's dealing with a little talked about problem for many small business owners. Competing with companies that hire immigrants who aren't authorized to work in the U.S. is tough for a small business that follows the law because businesses that break the rules usually pay ineligible workers less and they also save on taxes. By Joyce M. Rosenberg.

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AP photo.

DIGITAL LIFE-TECH TEST-TWITTER MUSIC

LOS ANGELES â¿¿ Until now, the problem with social music apps has been this: Following my friends doesn't turn up much music I actually want to listen to. I didn't choose my friends based on their musical tastes, and more often than not, we're on opposite ends of the spectrum. To me, Twitter's new music app solves this problem, because it allows me to dive into the music that is influencing the artists whom I already know I like. By Ryan Nakashima.

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AP photo.

OF MUTUAL INTEREST-MANAGING IRAs

BOSTON â¿¿ Managing an Individual Retirement Account on your own isn't easy. IRA owners may not have the wealth of services that 401(k) participants can use to manage portfolios, including automatic portfolio rebalancing. We'll explore do-it-yourself options for IRA owners, including a new service called Rebalance IRA that's got some big names in the investment industry backing it. For modest fees, customers get phone consultations about their investment goals and create portfolios of low-cost exchange-traded funds. By Personal Finance Writer Mark Jewell.

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ON THE MONEY-CRUISE VACATIONS

Televised images of a cruise ship limping back to port after an engine malfunction earlier this year didn't do the cruise industry any favors heading into the summer vacation season. But vacationers who remain undeterred can find there are good cruise deals to be had right now, experts say. Here are eight tips for saving money on a cruise vacation. By Alex Veiga.

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