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Business Highlights

November 18, 2015

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As US prepares to hike rates, Europe could reap benefits

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — In a high-stakes juncture for the global economy, the central banks of Europe and the United States are set to take opposing actions in December: the European Central Bank to cut rates, the Federal Reserve to raise them.

For the struggling eurozone, it can’t happen soon enough.

The divergence between two of the biggest forces in the world economy has the effect of weakening the euro against the dollar, providing a valuable boost to economic growth in Europe at a time of mounting uncertainty. For the more solid U.S. economy, it is creating an unwelcome headwind.

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3 startups that want to get millennials saving money

NEW YORK (AP) — Millennials, it’s time to pick up the phone and start saving.

That’s the message from digital saving companies such as Acorns, Digit and Stash that cater to people under 35. They offer services for the smartphone that aim to be easy to use, have low fees and don’t require large deposits. Stash, for example, lets users invest in the stock market for as little as $5. Digit and Acorns, meanwhile, do the work for savers by automatically transferring small amounts from a checking account to saving or investment accounts.

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Deaf business owners overcome obstacles and prejudice

NEW YORK (AP) — Soon after customers arrive at Mozzeria for the first time, they notice something’s different about the restaurant: Virtually every staffer is deaf.

Owners Russ and Melody Stein also are deaf, and have run their San Francisco restaurant since 2011. They’ve managed to have a thriving business by overcoming the obstacles deaf people often face when they become business owners, including stereotypes about what deaf people are capable of doing.

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Lenders taking more borrowers to court over student loans

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Fall behind on your student loans these days and you could end up getting more than hectoring phone calls and threatening letters. Some lenders are taking more people to court, attorneys say.

The number of lawsuits filed over delinquent student loans that were made by private lenders has increased significantly in the past two years, lawyers told The Associated Press, even though borrowers are missing payments much less often than they did during the height of the recession.

While no one tracks exactly how many such lawsuits are brought, an AP review of court websites in several states found several thousand, an overwhelming number of them filed since 2013.

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Minutes of meeting show Fed pondering December rate hike

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Reserve officials believed last month that the economic conditions needed to trigger the first interest rate hike in nearly a decade could “well be met” by their next meeting in December.

Minutes of the October discussions released Wednesday revealed Fed officials’ view that the job market would improve further and that inflation would begin to move toward their 2 percent annual target.

They took note of the U.S. economy’s resilience through a summer of financial market turbulence and felt that global threats had “diminished.”

The Fed has kept its benchmark for short-term rates near zero since late 2008.

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NY regulators say Barclays to pay $150M, fire executive

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York regulators say the British bank Barclays will pay a $150 million penalty and fire an executive for misconduct related to its automated electronic foreign exchange trading.

The Department of Financial Services says the misconduct concerns Barclays’ “Last Look” system, and the bank is terminating its global head of electronic fixed income, currencies, and commodities automated flow trading.

Regulators say Barclays used the system in certain instances to automatically reject client orders that would be unprofitable for the bank because of subsequent price swings during milliseconds-long hold periods.

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Target profit climbs as customer traffic increases

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Target says its sales rose 1.9 percent at established locations in the third quarter as it worked to revive its business by strengthening flagship categories like clothing and children’s products.

Still, the uptick was a slowdown from the previous quarter, when sales rose 2.4 percent at established locations. Growth of digital sales also slowed to 20 percent, and fell short of the company’s expectations. Previously, Target had forecast digital growth of 30 percent for the period.

Its shares fell more than 4 percent.

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Sprint: New subscribers will get half off competitors’ rates

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — Wireless provider Sprint said Wednesday that new subscribers who switch to its service will pay half what its competitors are charging.

The promotion wasn’t a hit with investors, however, who sent Sprint’s shares down 9 percent.

Sprint, the No. 4 wireless provider, is in the midst of a turnaround effort and has been making a range of promotional offers to lure customers. In August, it offered DirecTV customers one free year of cellphone service in a bold move aimed at the satellite TV company’s new owner, AT&T.

Sprint now says it will cut in half the price of most Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile plans, though some unlimited plans are excluded.

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Honda has the most high risk models in Takata air bag recall

DETROIT (AP) — Cars and trucks from the 2008 model year or older that were originally sold or registered in high humidity areas along the U.S. Gulf Coast are getting top priority for repairs as the government commences the massive Takata air bag inflator recall.

Honda Motor Co. leads all automakers with nine models designated as having the highest risk from air bag inflators that can explode with too much force, spewing metal shrapnel into drivers and passengers. Fiat Chrysler was second with seven.

On Nov. 3, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration took control of the recall, which covers 19.2 million vehicles and is the largest in U.S. history. The agency wants to speed up the pace of repairs and make sure that the limited supply of replacement parts gets to vehicles with the highest risk.

Even with government management, it could take as long as four years to replace all 23.4 million potentially faulty inflators that are now on U.S. roads.

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Canadian Pacific defends bid for Norfolk Southern railroad

Canadian Pacific offered more details and defended its offer to join two of North America’s biggest railroads, but Norfolk Southern offered only a lukewarm response and regulators have expressed significant concerns about any rail mergers.

Norfolk Southern said the offer of $46.72 cash and 0.348 shares in the combined company represented a premium of less than 10 percent of its stock price on Tuesday. Canadian Pacific said that the offer could deliver nearly 60 percent premium, but it based its calculation on an estimate of what the combined railroads might be worth next March.

It’s clear the two railroads haven’t agreed on the value of their operations or the likelihood that such a merger would be approved.

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 247.66 points, or 1.4 percent, to 17,737.16. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index gained 33.14 points, or 1.6 percent, to 2,083.58. The Nasdaq composite added 89.19 points, or 1.8 percent, to 5,075.20.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose 8 cents to close at $40.75 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It briefly dipped below $40 a barrel for the first time since August. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 57 cents to close at $44.14 a barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline rose 2.8 cents to $1.266 a gallon, heating oil rose 1.2 cents to $1.38 a gallon and natural gas fell 2.4 cents to $2.347 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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