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Yellen suggests a continuation of gradual rate hikes

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen says the Fed expects to continue raising interest rates gradually. And she tells lawmakers that the Fed will take care not to choke off any extra growth generated by tax cuts as long as inflation stayed tame. In likely her last appearance before Congress, Yellen receives praise and appreciation from both Republicans and Democrats on the Joint Economic Committee who salute her four-year tenure.

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Senate poised for test vote on tax overhaul

WASHINGTON (AP) — Conservative groups and lawmakers are lining up against a proposal by Senate Republicans to impose automatic tax increases if their sweeping tax package doesn't grow the economy and raise tax revenues as much as projected. Their opposition comes as the Senate is expected to vote Wednesday to start debating the tax package.

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White House: 'We are not anticipating a shutdown'

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House says it does not anticipate the government will be forced to shut down at midnight on Dec. 8. Government funding expires on that day and an extension is needed to keep the government operating. President Donald Trump and Congress' top Republican and Democratic leaders were to discuss spending Tuesday, but the Democrats backed out after Trump criticized them on Twitter. White House spokesman Raj Shah says officials "are not anticipating a shutdown" - despite the setback.

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Int'l visitors to US down 4 percent in 1st 6 months of 2017

NEW YORK (AP) — The number of international visitors arriving in the U.S. declined nearly 4 percent in the first six months of this year compared with the same period in 2016, according to data released Wednesday from the U.S. Department of Commerce National Travel and Tourism Office. Many sectors of the travel industry predicted a "Trump slump" resulting from President Donald Trump's anti-foreigner rhetoric and policies. Visitors declined from every region of the world except Canada.

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Bitcoin surges past $10,000 threshold, only to plunge

LONDON (AP) — The price of bitcoin surged through $10,000 on Wednesday, adding to its ten-fold jump in value this year and fueling a debate as to whether the virtual currency is gaining mainstream acceptance or is merely a bubble waiting to burst.

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Supreme Court frets over erosion of privacy in digital age

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is worried about the erosion of privacy amid technological advances. The justices signaled Wednesday they could restrain the government's ability to track Americans' movements through collection of their cellphone information.

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Facebook pledges $50M a year to match relief donations

NEW YORK (AP) — Facebook is pledging $50 million a year to match disaster-relief donations. The pledge isn't all new money, but represents an effort to formalize matches Facebook has already been making on an ad-hoc basis. The company is also giving relief organizations such as the Red Cross access to data on what users need and where they are.

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Union: Many AA flights in December lack scheduled pilots

DALLAS (AP) — A scheduling glitch has left American Airlines scrambling to find pilots to operate thousands of flights over the busy Christmas holiday period. American says it will find crews to operate the flights. The airline is offering overtime to willing pilots.

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2 big Uber investors agree to sell shares in SoftBank deal

DETROIT (AP) — At least two big Uber stakeholders have agreed to sell part of their shares to a group led by Japanese technology conglomerate SoftBank. It's part of a deal that lets investors cash out at a discount and could bring management stability to the troubled ride-hailing company. SoftBank says in a statement Wednesday that Benchmark Capital, Menlo Ventures and other early investors have confirmed intent to sell shares in the company.

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Steep tech drop pulls US stock indexes mostly lower; Dow up

NEW YORK (AP) — A steep slide in big technology companies pulled the major U.S. stock indexes mostly lower Wednesday, offsetting solid gains by banks and erasing some of the market's gains from a day earlier. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite, which is the best-performing major index this year, had its biggest single-day drop since August as investors cashed in some of their gains and bid up shares in health care companies and retailers. Bond yields rose, helping to lift banks.

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The S&P 500 index fell 0.97 of a point, or 0.04 percent, to 2,626.07. The Dow gained 103.97 points, or 0.4 percent, to 23,940.68. The Nasdaq lost 87.97 points, or 1.3 percent, to 6,824.39. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks picked up 5.86 points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,542.30.

Benchmark U.S. crude gave up 69 cents, or 1.2 percent, to settle at $57.30 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, lost 50 cents, or 0.8 percent, to close at $63.11 a barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline fell 4 cents to $1.73 a gallon. Heating oil shed 3 cents to $1.92 a gallon. Natural gas rose 5 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $3.18 per 1,000 cubic feet.