BC-Business News Digest

Business News at 6:00 p.m.

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NEW THIS DIGEST:

Adds: BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY INVESTMENTS; HEALTH OVERHAUL-Q&A ; HEINZ CUTS; TRANSPORTING OIL; MCDONALD'S COFFEE

Updates: WALL STREET; EARNS-NORDSTROM; GOOGLE-GOVERNMENT REQUESTS; OIL PRICES; GAMES-NEW CONSOLES; OBAMA

TOP STORIES:

YELLEN

WASHINGTON a¿¿ Janet Yellen made it clear that she's prepared to stand by the Federal Reserve's extraordinary efforts to pump up the economy when she's chairman, if that's what it needs. During a two-hour confirmation hearing, Yellen embraced her so-called "dovish" reputation and expressed strong support for the Fed's low interest-rate policies. Yellen drew praise from senators in both parties during the hearing and is expected to be confirmed by the full Senate, becoming the first woman to lead the powerful central bank. By Martin Crutsinger. SENT: 960 words, photos.

EARNS-WAL-MART

NEW YORK a¿¿ Wal-Mart shoppers a¿¿ like many Americans a¿¿ are still struggling. Their bills are going up, but their wages are not a¿¿ and some are concerned about losing food stamps. Rather than stock up on everything at Wal-Mart like they used to, they're scouring websites, dollar stores and wherever else they can to find the lowest prices possible for food and household goods. These are the reasons the world's largest retailer cut its annual outlook for the second time in three months. By Anne D'Innocenzio. SENT: 730 words, photo.

EUROPE-ECONOMY-VITAL SIGNS

LONDON a¿¿ The 17-country eurozone has just emerged from recession. Yet already, its recovery is faltering. Figures show that the currency union's economy barely grew last quarter. Record-high unemployment is keeping consumer spending weak, a stronger euro is slowing exports, heavily indebted governments need more support and low inflation is causing concern. At the same time, sharp disparities divide the eurozone's major nations: Germany, for example, is thriving, in part at the expense of Italy and others. By Pan Pylas. SENT: 1,140 words, photos.

With:

a¿¿ EUROPE-ECONOMY a¿¿ The good news is that the 17-country eurozone economy is still growing. The bad news is it couldn't be growing any slower. SENT: 560 words, photo.

FINLAND-LIFE AFTER NOKIA

HELSINKI a¿¿ From mobile phones to mobile games. Finland has found there's life after Nokia in a bustling startup scene that's unleashed a virtual torrent of gaming apps from "Angry Birds" to "Clash of Clans." With revenues expected to double to 2 billion euros this year, mobile gaming is fast becoming the Nordic country's flagship export industry. More than 100 game developers are showcasing their ideas to international investors this week at Helsinki's Slush conference, a hotspot for startups in Europe. By Matti Huuhtanen. SENT: 670 words, photos.

FOOD-COST OF THANKSGIVING

Here's another reason to be thankful this holiday season a¿¿ the cost of putting Thanksgiving dinner on the table is down slightly from last year. But don't bank on those savings for any big Black Friday splurges. The average Turkey Day dinner will cost $49.04, or just 44 cents less this year than it did in 2012. And while every penny counts, if you need to do any traveling to belly up to the big meal, increases in airline and train tickets mean that 44 cents won't get you very far. By J.M. Hirsch. SENT: 700 words, photo.

MARKETS & ECONOMY:

UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS

WASHINGTON a¿¿The number of people applying for U.S. unemployment benefits slips 2,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 339,000, the fifth straight decline that shows businesses see little need to cut jobs. By Christopher S. Rugaber. SENT: 480 words.

a¿¿ TRADE GAP a¿¿The U.S. trade deficit widens in September as imports increased to the highest level in 10 months while exports slipped. By Martin Crutsinger. SENT: 710 words, photo.

a¿¿ PRODUCTIVITY a¿¿ U.S. workers increased their productivity from July through September at the same modest pace as the previous three months. Steady gains in productivity could dissuade companies from ramping up hiring. SENT: 340 words, photo.

a¿¿ MORTGAGE RATES a¿¿ Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages rose for the second straight week amid some signs of economic strength. Still rates remain near historically low levels. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate on the 30-year loan increased to 4.35 percent from 4.16 percent last week. That's the highest level since Sept. 19, when it was 4.50 percent. SENT: 460 words, photos.

a¿¿ SMALLBIZ-PULSE a¿¿ Many small business owners are saying they're ready to hire, according to a new survey. Thirty-one percent of the participants in the survey said they plan to hire during the next year. They include many owners who are optimistic about prospects for their businesses over the next 12 months a¿¿ more than half said they want to hire workers to handle an expected increase in sales. SENT: 460 words.

WALL STREET

NEW YORK a¿¿ Not all record days on the stock market are created equal. Major U.S. indexes rose to all-time highs for the second day in a row Thursday, but the gains were driven by stocks that investors tend to buy when they want to avoid risk, such as power companies, banks and drug makers. SENT: 670 words, photo.

a¿¿ OIL PRICES a¿¿The price of oil erases early losses, closing down just 12 cents at $93.76 a barrel, as Federal Reserve chairman nominee Janet Yellen indicates that she plans to keep her predecessor's economic stimulus in place barring further improvement in the U.S. economy. Yellen's comments helped reverse sharp morning losses in oil, partly caused by a government report showing the eighth straight increase in the nation's supply of crude oil. SENT: 445 words.

INDUSTRY:

AUTO SAFETY TECHNOLOGY

WASHINGTON a¿¿ The government is speeding up research on safety systems that automatically prevent drivers from operating their cars if they are drunk or aren't buckled properly. Officials expect to decide by year's end how to encourage automakers to make available in more cars some special safety systems already in certain high-end vehicles. Those systems warn drivers before a collision that they are about to run into another vehicle, and can brake automatically to avoid a crash or make it less severe. By Joan Lowy. SENT: 650 words, photo.

BOEING MACHINISTS

SEATTLE a¿¿ Boeing says it will look at producing the next generation of 777s in another state, making good on a threat to further pull out of the Pacific Northwest after machinists reject a contract proposal exchanging concessions for decades of secure jobs. The states that may be Boeing's new home include California, Utah and Alabama. By Mike Baker. SENT: 865 words, photos, video.

TRANSPORTING OIL

OMAHA, Neb. a¿¿ Proposed new safety standards for rail cars that haul flammable liquids gained support from U.S. railroads Thursday, but it's not yet clear whether the companies that own most of those cars will support the upgrades to prevent leaks. By Josh Funk. SENT 700 words.

MCDONALD'S COFFEE

NEW YORK a¿¿ McDonald's wants to be a bigger player in the global coffee business. The world's biggest hamburger chain is highlighting beverages as one of its key growth opportunities at a daylong presentation for investors. The push comes as Starbucks Corp. is enjoying strong sales growth even in the choppy economy. By Candice Choi. SENT: 560 words.

TOURISTS NEXT DOOR

KAILUA, Hawaii a¿¿ People from across the world are drawn to the coastal town of Kailua. Its white sand beaches are among the nation's best. Some recommend the Honolulu suburb for its laid-back vibe. And President Barack Obama vacations there with his family each Christmas. But now, the neighborhood board is asking a state tourism agency to stop encouraging visitors to stay overnight in their town. By Audrey McAvoy. SENT: 800 photo, video.

a¿¿ LOCKHEED MARTIN-JOBS a¿¿ Lockheed Martin is cutting 4,000 jobs, about 3.5 percent of its workforce, as the defense contractor continues to look for ways to lower costs amid reduced government spending. SENT: 290 words, photos.

a¿¿ HEINZ CUTS a¿¿ H.J. Heinz Co. is closing three plants in North America and cutting 1,350 jobs in an effort to operate more efficiently. SENT: 150 words, photo.

a¿¿ BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY-INVESTMENTS a¿¿ Warren Buffett's company bought more than 40 million shares of Exxon Mobil and significantly reduced its ConocoPhillips investment during the third quarter. SENT: 130 words. UPCOMING: 300 words by 6 pm.

a¿¿ CHINA-VOLKSWAGEN-RECALL a¿¿ China's government announces the second recall of Volkswagen vehicles this year. Volkswagen AG will recall 640,309 cars and minivans to replace oil in their transmissions that might cause an electrical problem. SENT: 260 words.

a¿¿ VOLKSWAGEN-RECALL a¿¿ Germany's Volkswagen AG issues a global recall for 800,000 of its Tiguan models, saying it needs to replace a problematic fuse that can cause the cars' lights to fail.

a¿¿ ART AUCTIONS a¿¿ A prized 1963 Andy Warhol painting that captures the immediate aftermath of a car crash has sold for $105 million at a New York auction, shattering the record for the famed pop artist amid a spending frenzy in the art world. SENT: 430 words.

EARNINGS:

FRANCE-EARNS-EADS

PARIS a¿¿ Airbus parent company EADS says strong demand for its commercial aircraft helped its third-quarter profits increase by a hefty 45 percent. But the European jet maker warns that its free cash flow would be negative 1.5 billion euros ($2 billion) this year because of its investment program. By Greg Keller. SENT: 480 words.

a¿¿EARNS-VIACOM a¿¿ Viacom's fourth-quarter net income rose 24 percent, helped by the success of the film "World War Z" and greater advertising revenue. SENT: 375 words, photo.

a¿¿ BRITAIN-EARNS-BURBERRY a¿¿ Luxury goods maker Burberry saw its six-month revenue exceed 1billion pounds ($1.5 billion) for the first time as it reaps the benefits its digital marketing strategy. SENT: 140 words.

a¿¿ EARNS-NORDSTROM a¿¿ Luxury retailer Nordstrom's third-quarter net income fell almost 7 percent as an anniversary sale that usually boosts sales was held earlier in the year. SENT: 300 words, photo.

TECHNOLOGY & MEDIA:

GOOGLE BOOK BATTLE

NEW YORK a¿¿ A federal judge tosses out a class-action lawsuit brought by authors against Google Inc., clearing the way for the Internet giant to create the world's largest digital library. By Tom Hays. SENT: 250 words. UPCOMING: 700 words by x p.m.

Also:

a¿¿ GOOGLE-GOVERNMENT REQUESTS a¿¿ Google is rebuffing governments more frequently as authorities in the U.S. and other countries get more aggressive about mining the Internet for information about people's online activities. SENT: 620 words, photo.

DIGITAL LIFE-TECH TEST-SONY SMARTWATCH

NEW YORK a¿¿Sony's new SmartWatch 2 doesn't get as much attention and doesn't do as much as Samsung's Galaxy Gear computerized wristwatch. But for the things it does, Sony's version performs better. That said, neither Sony nor Samsung has made a compelling case for why people need a smartwatch. By Anick Jesdanun. SENT: 1,020 words, photos, video.

GAMES-NEW CONSOLES

NEW YORK a¿¿ New video game consoles from Sony and Microsoft are arriving after a 7 and 8-year hiatus. Hardcore gamers are certain to line up for the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One. But a lot has changed in the gadget landscape since 2006. Can console makers appeal to people who've become enthralled with their smartphones and tablet computers this holiday season? By Barbara Ortutay. SENT 848 words.

WASHINGTON:

HEALTH CARE OVERHAUL-PROBLEMS

WASHINGTON a¿¿ Bowing to pressure, President Barack Obama announces changes to his health care law to give insurance companies the option to keep offering consumers plans that would otherwise be canceled. The administrative changes are good for just one year, though senior administration officials said they could be extended if problems with the law persist. By Julie Pace and David Espo. SENT: 1,300 words, photo.

With:

a¿¿ HEALTH CARE-STATES a¿¿ A state-by-state glance at health insurance enrollment through the ACA.

a¿¿ HEALTH OVERHAUL-Q&A a¿¿ Just when you thought you had the president's health care law figured out, it's changing. Some questions and answers about what's afoot and who's affected. SENT: 1,020 words, photo.

OBAMA

WASHINGTON a¿¿ Dogged by the botched enrollment launch of his health care law, President Barack Obama touts increased automobile fuel efficiency for helping reduce reliance on foreign oil. By Jim Kuhnhenn. SENT: 360 words, photo.

INTERNATIONAL:

TYPHOON-UNCHARITABLE CHINA

BEIJING a¿¿ The outpouring of international aid to the Philippines makes China's contribution for typhoon relief look like a trickle: Several countries and even Swedish furniture chain Ikea have done more than the world's second-largest economy. That won't help Beijing's campaign to win over neighbors with its soft power. By Christopher Bodeen. SENT: 1,140 words, photos.

BOSNIA-TRAINS TO NOWHERE

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina a¿¿ They were seen as a shining example of Bosnia's rebirth from war: a fleet of high-speed trains built-to-order in the West. Eight years later, they haven't made a single ride. The reason: They're just too fast for Bosnia's 60-year-old rails. By Aida Cerkez. SENT: 560 words, photos.

EUROPE FINANCIAL CRISIS

BRUSSELS a¿¿ European officials take a step toward putting their debt woes behind them as Ireland says it needs no more financial help. But they were still divided on new measures aimed at preventing another country from running into the same kind of trouble. By David McHugh and John-Thor Dahlburg. SENT: 470 words, photos.

Also:

a¿¿ IRELAND-FINANCIAL CRISIS a¿¿ Ireland will exit its international bailout agreement next month without the safety net of a precautionary credit line, a sign that the Irish are confident they won't suffer a beating in the bond markets. By Shawn Pogatchnik. SENT: 550 words.

a¿¿ GREECE-FINANCIAL CRISIS a¿¿ Greece's unemployment rate stands at 27.3 percent in August, unchanged from the previous month. The government described the stabilization as the "first sign of recovery" for the crisis-hit country. SENT: 340 words, photos.

a¿¿ FRANCE-ECONOMY a¿¿ The French economy is shrinking again, statistics show, underscoring that it is still in trouble despite a rebound last quarter. SENT: 250 words.

a¿¿ GERMANY-ECONOMY a¿¿ German economic growth slows in the third quarter as exports weighed on the economy. SENT: 140 words.

a¿¿ INDIA-ECONOMY a¿¿ India's stubbornly high inflation rate rises in October to 7 percent, the highest level in eight months despite efforts by the central bank to rein in prices by hiking interest rates. By Kay Johnson. SENT: 310 words.

a¿¿ JAPAN-ECONOMY a¿¿ Japan's economy slows in the third quarter as consumer spending remained sluggish despite government efforts to energize growth with public works and lavish monetary stimulus. SENT: 270 words, photos.

SAUDI-MIGRANT CRACKDOWN

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia a¿¿ Garbage is piling up on streets, grocery stores have shut their doors and almost half of Saudi Arabia's small construction firms have stopped working. The mess is because the foreign workers on which many businesses rely are fleeing, have gone into hiding or under arrest amid a crackdown launched Nov. 4 targeting the kingdom's 9 million migrant laborers. By Abdullah Al-Shihri and Aya Batrawy. SENT: 1,020 words, photos.

a¿¿ BANGLADESH-GARMENT WAGES a¿¿ More than 200 Bangladesh garment factories reopen after the country's prime minister stepped in to resolve clashes over minimum wages. The end of the 4-day shutdown came after factory owners met with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and agreed to a 77 percent increase in the minimum wage for new unskilled garment workers to 5,300 takas ($66) a month. SENT: 360 words.

JAPAN-CHOCOLATE FACTORY

TAKASAKI, Japan a¿¿ The opening of a Swiss-owned chocolate factory northwest of Tokyo is a small but sweet milestone in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's crusade to lure foreign investment to Japan after decades of keeping local industries protected from outside competition. By Elaine Kurtenbach. SENT: 740 words, photos.

PERSONAL FINANCE:

OF MUTUAL INTEREST-401K TARGETS

Nearly one of every three Fidelity 401(k) accountholders has his or her entire account invested in just one target-date mutual fund, according to survey results released Thursday by Fidelity Investments. For the youngest workers, the ratio is much higher. By Stan Choe. SENT: 800 words.

_______

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CENTERPIECE

Earnings season: winding down

The Standard & Poor's 500 index continues to set record highs as third-quarter earnings season draws to a close. Here's a closer look at the earnings growth of the 10 sectors that make up the index. UPCOMING: Graphic expected by 6 p.m.

COMPANY SPOTLIGHT

World War Z boosts Viacom

The summer blockbuster "World War Z" in which zombies swarm over much of the planet helped boost Viacom's fourth-quarter profit by 24 percent. UPCOMING: Graphic expected by 6 p.m.

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

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