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Posted: Dec 6, 2012 1:26 AM

Updated: Dec 6, 2012 1:26 AM


Stocks mixed

NEW YORK (AP) The blue chips finished higher Wednesday, but the Nasdaq was weighed down by weakness in Apple shares.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 82.71 points, or 0.6 percent, to close at 13,034.49.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 2.23 points, or 0.2 percent, to close at 1,409.28.

The Nasdaq composite fell 22.99 points, or 0.8 percent, to 2,973.70.


Asia stocks mixed

BANGKOK (AP) Asian stock markets remained in a holding pattern today as investors assessed President Barack Obama's comments that reaching a budget deal to prevent the U.S. from a possible recession was "not that tough" and could even be done quickly.

Obama's remarks follow days of contentious negotiations between the White House and Congress on a deal to avert the so-called "fiscal cliff" of automatic spending cuts and tax increases at the start of next year. Without a deal, the U.S. could fall back into recession and drag much of the world down with it.

Benchmark crude oil fell to hover below $88 per barrel. The dollar rose against the euro and the yen.


Jobless claims, mortgage rates data due

WASHINGTON (AP) On today's economic calendar, the Labor Department releases the weekly jobless claims. That's one day ahead of the monthly unemployment report.

Freddie Mac releases weekly mortgage rate data.


US hiring last month was likely held back by Sandy

WASHINGTON (AP) Some employers were slowed down by Superstorm Sandy. Others have been cautious because of looming tax increases and spending cuts. All of that combined likely slowed hiring sharply in November.

A private survey released Wednesday showed companies added fewer workers last month than in October. The same picture is expected when the government issues a more comprehensive jobs report for November on Friday.

Even so, most analysts say the underlying economy remains healthy and is creating jobs at a still-modest but steady pace.

Economists expect tomorrow's government report to show employers added 110,000 jobs in November. Analysts see the unemployment rate at 7.9 percent.

Other analysts expect much lower job gains, roughly 25,000 to 50,000, because of Sandy and anxiety over the tax increases and spending cuts set to take effect in January.

Yet without the depressive effects of Superstorm Sandy, many think employers would have added up to 200,000 jobs last month even stronger than the solid 171,000 jobs added in October.

ADP said that private companies added 118,000 jobs in November, down from 157,000 in the previous month. Economist Mark Zandi estimates that the storm lowered the job gains by about 86,000.


ECB unlikely to help

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) The European Central Bank is unlikely to offer any further help for Europe's sagging economy today after already lowering interest rates to record lows and calming the region's debt crisis with its plan to buy the bonds of heavily indebted governments.

After a year that has seen $1.3 trillion in emergency loans to banks, a rate cut, and President Mario Draghi's vow to "do whatever it takes" to rescue the euro, some analysts say the ECB may consider itself finished with efforts to rescue the eurozone economy.

Analysts say the bank will hold off cutting its key refinancing rate any further from its current 0.75 percent when the bank's 22-member governing council gathers at its headquarters in Frankfurt. The council sets monetary policy for the eurozone and its 333 million people.

It is also unlikely that the ECB will offer any major new emergency measures, after Draghi made the risky but crucial step in September of saying the bank could buy unlimited amounts of government bonds and lower borrowing costs for those governments, such as Spain and Italy, that are struggling to finance their debts.


Next round begins for Apple vs. Samsung

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) The epic $1 billion patent fight between the world's top two smartphone makers resumes today in a federal courtroom when Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Corp. again square off over rights to vital technology.

Samsung seeks to overturn an Aug. 24 jury verdict that found the Korean tech titan copied Apple's designs for its iPhone and iPad. The jury ordered Samsung to pay Apple $1 billion after finding close to two dozen of its products used technology controlled by Apple.

Apple, in turn, is looking to add $500 million more to the award while barring many of the older Samsung products at issue from sale in the United States.

The companies' lawyers will present a host of legal arguments including allegations that the jury foreman committed misconduct. The case is ultimately expected to land before the U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, the Washington, D.C.-based court that decides patent disputes, if not the U.S. Supreme Court.

Samsung has mounted an aggressive post-trial attack, raising a number of legal issues that allege the South Korean company was treated unfairly in a federal courtroom a dozen miles from Apple's Cupertino headquarters.


Report: Sales of homes facing foreclosure outpacing sales of bank-owned homes

LOS ANGELES (AP) New data show that sales of U.S. homes facing foreclosure are on the rise and outpacing sales of bank-owned homes.

Foreclosure tracker RealtyTrac Inc. says sales of homes already in the foreclosure process jumped 22 percent in the third quarter compared to the previous three-month period and the third quarter last year.

Short sales, when a lender agrees to accept less than what the homeowner owes on their mortgage, accounted for 65 percent of those so-called preforeclosure sales in the quarter.

Sales of bank-owned homes rose 19 percent versus the second quarter, but fell 20 percent from a year earlier.

Foreclosure sales accounted for 19 percent of all residential sales in the quarter and represented, on average, a 32 percent discount relative to other types of homes.


Illegal immigration drops after decade-long rise

WASHINGTON (AP) New census data affirm a clear and sustained drop in illegal immigration, ending more than a decade of increases.

The number of illegal immigrants in the U.S. dropped to an estimated 11.1 million last year from a peak of 12 million in 2007, part of an overall waning of Hispanic immigration. For the first time since 1910, Hispanic immigration was topped by immigrants from Asia.

Demographers say illegal Hispanic immigration isn't likely to return to its mid-2000 peak. That's due to a weakened U.S. economy and an aging Mexican population. Eighty percent of all illegal immigration comes from Mexico and Latin America.

The finding suggests an uphill battle for Republicans, who passed legislation in the House that would extend citizenship to a limited pool of foreign students.


SEC: Inside merger info passed from NC netted $11M

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) Federal regulators say an investment banker at Wells Fargo Securities and his longtime friend passed on insider tips on pending company mergers to friends or family members in five states, racking up more than $11 million in illicit profits.

The Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday said John W. Femenia misused his position to trade in information about four pending mergers involving firm clients before the deals were announced.

Femenia did not return a call seeking comment. He was based in Wells Fargo's Charlotte office in 2010 and 2011 when the SEC said he passed along insider information on three mergers before moving to New York.

The SEC says people who acted on the insider information lived in North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, California and New York.


Ag chair says she's open to more food stamp cuts

WASHINGTON (AP) The Democratic chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee says she is willing to consider higher cuts to the food stamp program in an effort to include a massive five-year farm bill in negotiations on the so-called fiscal cliff.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said that cuts to the food stamp program beyond the $4 billion over 10 years included in a Senate-passed farm bill "are something I am willing to talk about." A farm bill passed by the House Agriculture Committee would include $16 billion in cuts over the same amount of time.

Both amounts are relatively small in relation to the program's total estimated cost almost $800 billion over the next decade but Stabenow's willingness to move on an issue long sacred to Democrats shows progress in negotiations as farm-state leaders scramble to get the bill done before the end of the year. Stabenow and House Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., met this week in hopes of reconciling their two versions of the bill.


Starbucks to open 1,500 more cafes in the US

NEW YORK (AP) You might see some new Starbucks outlets opening somewhere nearby. The world's biggest coffee company plans to add at least 1,500 cafes in the U.S. over the next five years.

The plan, which would boost the number of Starbucks cafes in the country by about 13 percent, was announced at the company's investor day in New York Wednesday. Taking into account Canada and South America, the company plans to add a total of 3,000 new cafes in its broader Americas region.

Worldwide, the company says it will have more than 20,000 cafes by 2014, up from its current count of about 18,000. Much of that growth will come from China, which the company says will surpass Canada as its second-biggest market.

Although Starbucks has been intensifying its growth overseas and building its packaged-goods business back at home, the majority of its revenue still comes from its more than 11,100 cafes in the United States.

In an interview ahead of its investor day, CEO Howard Schultz said the U.S. expansion plans are based "on the current strength of our business"

Just a few months ago, the company had predicted it would open just 1,000 new cafes in the country over the next five years.

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