Boston Scientific Bests J&J for Guidant

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) _ Boston Scientific Corp. announced Wednesday it was acquiring Guidant Corp. for about $27.2 billion in cash and stock, ending a nearly two-month bidding war against rival Johnson & Johnson for the heart device maker.

Reebok Holders OK $3.8B Adidas Buyout

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CANTON, Mass. (AP) _ Shareholders of Reebok International Ltd. voted Wednesday to approve the $3.8 billion sale of the sports sneaker and apparel maker to Adidas-Salomon AG, a deal that seeks to challenge Nike Inc.'s market leadership.

Stocks Barely Mixed on Mergers, Earnings

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NEW YORK (AP) _ Stocks were barely mixed Wednesday despite positive earnings news, two significant merger deals and a drop in oil prices.

Existing Home Sales Fall for 3rd Month

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WASHINGTON (AP) _ Sales of existing homes set a record for a fifth straight year in 2005 even though the year ended on a weaker note with three straight monthly declines, sending a strong signal that the nation's housing boom is beginning to cool.

Ameritrade Closes TD Waterhouse Deal

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OMAHA, Neb. (AP) _ Online brokerage Ameritrade Holding Corp. said Wednesday it completed its acquisition of TD Waterhouse Group Inc.'s U.S. retail securities business, and promptly announced plans to close two of its five call centers and 40 of the 140 branch offices it picked up as part of the deal.

American Airlines Expects Higher Revenues

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FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) _ American Airlines, the nation's largest carrier, expects rising revenue in 2006 but faces higher costs, especially for fuel, the chief financial officer said Wednesday.

Bristol-Myers Profit Leaps As Sales Fall

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NEW YORK (AP) _ Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. said Wednesday its fourth-quarter earnings more than tripled from a year ago despite falling sales because the drug maker's year-ago net income was depressed by a one-time charge.

ConocoPhillips Profit Surges on Oil Prices

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HOUSTON (AP) _ ConocoPhillips Co., the nation's third-largest integrated oil and gas company, said Wednesday its fourth-quarter profit ballooned as prices and refining margins remained strong versus a year ago.

Oil Prices Slide on U.S. Supply Increase

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WASHINGTON (AP) _ Crude oil futures fell more than $1 a barrel Wednesday as U.S. supplies of gasoline and heating oil rose last week. But analysts said militant attacks in Nigeria and Iran's nuclear standoff with the West would keep prices firm for the forseeable future.

BellSouth 4Q Profit Sags on Storm Costs

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ATLANTA (AP) _ BellSouth Corp., the dominant local telephone provider in nine southeastern states, said Wednesday that heavy hurricane-related costs contributed to a more than 54 percent drop in fourth-quarter profit that occurred despite a slight increase in revenue and solid gains in DSL customers.