Business Highlights

By The Associated Press

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Yellen stands by Federal Reserve's low rate policies

WASHINGTON a¿¿ Janet Yellen made 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 before the Senate Banking Committee, Yellen embraced her so-called "dovish" reputation and expressed strong support for the Fed's low interest-rate policies. And she warned critics that any potential harm those policies pose are outweighed by the risk of leaving a still-weak economy to survive without them.

Yellen faced tough questions, particularly from Republicans. But she also drew praise from senators in both parties and is expected to be confirmed by the full Senate, becoming the first woman to lead the powerful central bank.

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Wal-Mart 3Q profit up, but cuts outlook

NEW YORK a¿¿ Wal-Mart shoppers a¿¿ much like many Americans a¿¿ still feel like they're in a recession.

In the uneven economic recovery, their bills are going up, but their wages are not. While the well-heeled crowd benefits from gains in the stock market, they're still struggling with a higher payroll tax. And shopping for bargains isn't a hobby, but a necessity.

For these reasons, the world's largest retailer cut its annual outlook for the second time in three months and offered fourth-quarter guidance that's below Wall Street's expectations.

The disappointing forecast shows how vulnerable Wal-Mart a¿¿ and its customers a¿¿ are to the ups and downs in the economy. Wal-Mart's shoppers are dealing with a 2 percentage point increase in the Social Security payroll tax since Jan. 1. A partial 16-day government shutdown this year also hurt business in areas with large military bases. And the Nov. 1 expiration of a temporary boost in government food stamps could also hurt customers' ability to spend, though the discounter says it's too early to know.

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The cost of turkey and trimmings? Mostly unchanged

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.

The good news is that after some steep price hikes during the economic downturn about five years ago, food prices have remained mostly stable this year. It's a welcome change from 2011, when the cost of Thanksgiving dinner jumped $5.73, up from $43.47 in 2010, according to the annual informal survey of consumer grocery prices performed by the American Farm Bureau Federation.

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After Nokia, a mobile games boom in Finland

HELSINKI a¿¿ From mobile phones to mobile games.

Finland has found there's life after Nokia in a bustling startup scene that's produced hugely popular game apps from "Angry Birds" to "Clash of Clans."

Mobile gaming is fast becoming the Nordic country's new flagship export industry, with revenues expected to double to about $2.7 billion this year.

Many Finns hope startups in general and game developers in particular will preserve Finland's position as a high-tech hub as an era ends with the sale of the phone division of Nokia a¿¿ once the industry bellwether a¿¿ to Microsoft.

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Suit challenging Google's digital library tossed

NEW YORK a¿¿ A federal judge handed Google Inc. a victory in a long-running legal battle, tossing out a lawsuit claiming the Internet giant was violating copyright laws by scanning books without the writers' permission to create the world's largest digital library.

The 28-page decision by U.S. District Judge Denny Chin in New York is the latest twist in a circuitous journey that began nine years ago when Google set out to make digital copies of all the books in the world.

The ambitious project prompted the Authors Guild to sue Google in a Manhattan federal court in 2005, claiming the Mountain View, Calif.-based company was not making "fair use" of copyright material by offering searchable snippets of works in its online library.

Chin's ruling won't necessarily close the book on the case. The Authors Guild plans to appeal, opening the next chapter in a legal saga that some experts believe will ultimately land in the U.S. Supreme Court.

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Lockheed Martin cutting 4,000 jobs, closing plants

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.

Across-the-board spending cuts by the federal government have helped trim U.S. budget deficits. Budget negotiators in Congress are holding talks centered on find ways to cut spending and tax breaks to replace the automatic cuts that started earlier this year that are slamming the Pentagon and domestic agencies.

Bethesda, Md.-based Lockheed Martin Corp., maker of Patriot missile defense system and the F-35 and F-16 fighter planes, will close plants in Goodyear, Ariz.; Akron, Ohio; Newtown, Pa.; and Horizon City, Texas; as well as four buildings at its Sunnyvale, Calif. campus, by mid-2015, eliminating 2,000 jobs. Another 2,000 positions will be cut in its information systems and global solutions, mission system and training, and space systems units by 2014's end.

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Government speeds research on car safety systems

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 properly buckled in.

Officials also said they expect to decide by year's end how to encourage automakers to make some special safety systems already in certain high-end vehicles available in more cars. 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.

The innovations a¿¿ collision avoidance, seat belt interlocks and driver alcohol detection systems a¿¿ hold the potential of dramatically reducing traffic fatalities, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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Boeing may move 777X out of Washington state

SEATTLE a¿¿ Boeing's history in the Pacific Northwest dates back more than a century, when William Boeing purchased a Seattle shipyard that would become his first airplane factory.

In recent years, however, those ties have been fraying, first with the company shifting its headquarters to Chicago, then with the development of a new production line in South Carolina.

Now, the relationship between Boeing and Washington state is near the point of unraveling after a fiery debate among machinists this week led the workers to reject a long-term contract. Boeing made good on its threats and said it is looking elsewhere to develop its popular new 777X airplane a¿¿ and the company may take thousands of jobs along with it.

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US unemployment benefit applications dip to 339,000

WASHINGTON a¿¿ The number of people applying for U.S. unemployment benefits slipped 2,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 339,000, the fifth straight decline that shows businesses see little need to cut jobs.

The Labor Department said the less volatile four-week average fell 5,750 to 344,000. The average has dropped 11 percent in the past year.

Applications are a proxy for layoffs. They have fallen back near pre-recession levels this month after spiking in early October because of the partial government shutdown and processing backlogs in California. The steady declines are the latest sign that companies are firing fewer workers.

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 54.59 points, or 0.4 percent, to 15,876.22, while the Standard & Poor's 500 index added 8.62 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,790.62. The Nasdaq composite edged up 7.16 points, or 0.2 percent, to 3,972.74.

Benchmark U.S. crude for December delivery slipped 12 cents to $93.76 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the international benchmark, rose $1.42 to $108.54 a barrel on the ICE exchange in London.

Wholesale gasoline added 6 cents to $2.68 a gallon. Heating oil added 3 cents to $2.93 a gallon. Natural gas rose 4 cents to $3.61 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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

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