By The Associated Press___ Target: 40M card accounts may be breached NEW YORK (AP) a¿¿Target's data-security nightmare threatens to drive off holiday shoppers during the company's busiest time of year. The nation's second-largest discounter acknowledged Thursday that data connected to about 40 million credit and debit card accounts was stolen as part of a breach that began over the Thanksgiving weekend. The theft marks the second-largest credit card breach in U.S. history, exceeded only by a scam that began in 2005 involving retailer TJX Cos. and affected at least 45.7 million card users. Target's disclosure came a day after reports that the company was investigating a breach. Customers who made purchases by swiping their cards at its U.S. stores between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15 may have had their accounts exposed. The stolen data included customer names, credit and debit card numbers, card expiration dates and the embedded code on the magnetic strip on back of the card, Target said. There was no indication that the three- or four-digit security numbers visible on the back of the card were affected. The data breach did not affect online purchases, the company said. Target has not disclosed exactly how the breach occurred but said it has fixed the problem. ___ Weekly US jobless claims hit 9-month high of 379K WASHINGTON (AP) a¿¿ The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits rose 10,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 379,000, the highest since March. The increase may reflect volatility around the Thanksgiving holidays. The Labor Department said Thursday that the less volatile four-week average jumped 13,250 to 343,250, the second straight increase. Applications are a proxy for layoffs. Last month, they fell to nearly the lowest level in six years, as companies cut fewer jobs. But two weeks ago, they surged 64,000 to 369,000.