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AP Financial News Summary at 5:11 p.m. EST

January 13, 2006

Wal-Mart Weighs Legal Challenge to Md. Law

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) _ Wal-Mart Stores Inc., faced with a new Maryland law designed to pressure the retail chain into spending more money on health insurance for its employees, is considering a challenge to the groundbreaking legislation.

Deadline Expires in Boston’s Guidant Bid

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BOSTON (AP) _ The deadline for Guidant Corp. to respond to Boston Scientific Corp.’s latest $25 billion buyout offer came and went on Friday, increasing the tension in the fast-paced bidding war with Johnson & Johnson for the medical device maker.

Tyco to Divide Into 3 Cos. at Cost of $1B

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TRENTON, N.J. (AP) _ Tyco International Ltd., still recovering from scandals that saw its longtime former chief executive sentenced to prison, said Friday it plans to split into three public companies.

Stocks End Little Changed Ahead of 4Q

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NEW YORK (AP) _ Stocks were little changed Friday as a slowdown in retail sales and profit warnings from Lucent Technologies Inc. and Tyco International Ltd. kept investors from building on earlier gains. The major indexes finished the week with modest gains.

Dec. Wholesale Inflation, Retail Sales Up

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WASHINGTON (AP) _ Soaring energy prices pushed wholesale inflation up in 2005 by the highest amount since 1990. Meanwhile, retail sales rose by a moderate 0.7 percent in December with almost all of the strength coming from higher car sales.

Lucent Lowers Revenue Outlook on Sales

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GM Expecting to Save $4 Billion in 2006

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DETROIT (AP) _ General Motors Corp. expects to save about $4 billion this year as it implements its North American turnaround plan, Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner said Friday. But he declined to give earnings guidance, saying there are too many outstanding issues facing the struggling automaker.

South Korea Lifts Ban on U.S. Beef Imports

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WASHINGTON (AP) _ Senior U.S. officials pressed South Korea on Friday to go further in lifting a ban on importing American beef imposed because of mad cow disease.

S&P Downgrades Verizon Debt Rating

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NEW YORK (AP) _ Standard & Poor’s lowered its debt rating for Verizon Communications Inc. and placed AT&T Inc. and BellSouth Corp. on CreditWatch for possible downgrade, citing an accelerating loss of customers by the nation’s three biggest telephone companies to rival services from cable TV providers.

Oil Prices Fall, Markets Fret About Iran

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Crude oil futures fell marginally on Friday, ending the week slightly lower as above-normal temperatures in parts of the U.S. helped ease supply concerns. But the market remained worried about oil-rich Iran, which threatened to block inspections of its nuclear sites if confronted by the U.N. Security Council.

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