Retail Sales Surge in November

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WASHINGTON (AP) _ Consumers battered by a multitude of economic woes came roaring back in November, pushing retail sales up by the largest amount in four months.

Stocks Rise on Retail Sales, Bonds Fall

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NEW YORK (AP) _ Stocks bounded higher and Treasury bonds plunged Wednesday after a robust retail sales report suggested consumer spending will drive corporate profits, and help push economic growth. The news indicated that the Federal Reserve won't cut interest rates anytime soon.

United, Continental Reportedly in Talks

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A flurry of confirmed and reported talks among airlines may signal merger mania within the struggling industry, though analysts question whether consolidation is a sure _ or even a good _ thing.

Home Depot Buys Retailer in China

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BEIJING (AP) _ Home Depot Inc. announced its first foray into China's booming market on Wednesday with the purchase of a Chinese chain of 12 home improvement stores that modeled itself on its giant American counterpart.

Union Chief: US Air Is Only Delta Bidder

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ATLANTA (AP) _ No other carrier has offered to buy Delta Air Lines Inc. since US Airways' hostile bid last month, and no merger discussions between Delta and any other carrier are currently ongoing, the head of Delta's pilots union said Wednesday.

Union, Phila. Papers Get Tentative Deal

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ The city's two largest newspapers reached a tentative contract agreement with their largest union, an accord the newspaper guild described to members as ``a disappointing, giveback deal.''

Skilling Expected to Go to Prison Today

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HOUSTON (AP) _ Former Enron chief executive Jeffrey Skilling is expected to report to prison today. One day after a federal appellate court ruled that the former Enron chief executive could remain free until it decided on his request for bail pending appeal of his sentence for conspiracy, fraud and insider trading, the judge in the case rejected the request.

Oil Prices Drift Lower

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LONDON (AP) _ Oil prices drifted lower Wednesday before the release of a weekly U.S. petroleum supply figures expected to show higher inventories in gasoline and heating oil.

OPEC Members Split on Production Cuts

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ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) _ OPEC price hawks are urging new production cutbacks, but other members are balking, signaling tough discussions ahead when oil ministers gather Thursday for their last price and policy meeting of the year.

British Unemployment Rate Falls

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LONDON (AP) _ Britain's unemployment rate unexpectedly fell in November for the first time in 18 months, according to figures released Wednesday.