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Business Highlights

Source : AP
Last Updated: Thu, Dec 06, 2012 04:30 hrs

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Citigroup to cut 11,000 jobs, a familiar story

NEW YORK (AP) — Citigroup said Wednesday that it will cut 11,000 jobs, a bold early move by new CEO Michael Corbat.

The cuts amount to about 4 percent of Citi's workforce. Most of them, about 6,200 jobs, will come from Citi's consumer banking unit, which handles everyday functions like branches and checking accounts.

Citi said that it will sell or scale back consumer operations in Pakistan, Paraguay, Romania, Turkey and Uruguay and focus on 150 cities around the world "that have the highest growth potential in consumer banking."

The bank, the third-largest in the U.S. by assets, did not say how many jobs it will cut here.

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Starbucks to open 1,500 more cafes in the US

NEW YORK (AP) — Another Starbucks may soon pop up on a corner near you, as 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, Starbucks 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 Starbucks says will pass Canada as its second-biggest market.

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Poll shows support for raising taxes on the rich

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans prefer letting tax cuts expire for the country's top earners, as President Barack Obama insists, while support has declined for cutting government services to curb budget deficits, an Associated Press-GfK poll shows. Fewer than half the Republicans polled favor continuing the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy.

There's also a reluctance to trim Social Security, Medicare or defense programs, three of the biggest drivers of federal spending, the survey released Wednesday found. The results could strengthen Obama's hand in his fiscal cliff duel with Republicans, in which he wants to raise taxes on the rich and cut spending by less than some GOP lawmakers want.

As Obama and Republicans joust over ways to avoid tumbling over the cliff when the new year begins, the poll offers scant evidence that the public is willing to sacrifice much when it comes to specific cuts in the name of budget austerity.

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Growth of US service firms accelerated last month

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. service companies grew at a slightly faster pace in November because sales and new orders rose, a good sign for the economy.

The Institute for Supply Management said Wednesday that its index of non-manufacturing activity rose to 54.7 from 54.2 in October. Any reading above 50 indicates expansion. November's figure is above the 12-month average of 54.4.

The report measures growth in a broad range of businesses from retail and construction companies to health care and financial services firms. The industries covered employ about 90 percent of the workforce.

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US factory orders up 0.8 percent in October

WASHINGTON (AP) — Orders to U.S. factories rose modestly in October, helped by a big gain in demand for equipment that reflects business investment plans.

Factory orders edged up 0.8 percent in October, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. The increase slowed from a 4.5 percent jump in September.

Orders for core capital goods, a category viewed as a good proxy for business investment plans, increased 2.9 percent in October, the biggest increase in eight months. That represented an upward revision from an initial estimate of 1.7 percent. The increase came after big declines in the investment category this summer.

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US productivity grows at faster 2.9 percent rate

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. workers were more productive this summer than initially thought, while costing their companies less.

The Labor Department said Wednesday that productivity grew at an annual rate of 2.9 percent from July through September. That's the fastest pace in two years and higher than the initial estimate of 1.9 percent. Labor costs dropped at a rate of 1.9 percent, more than the 0.1 percent dip initially estimated.

Productivity was revised higher because economic growth was faster in the third quarter than first estimated, while hours worked were unchanged. Productivity is the amount of output per hour of work.

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Cashing in on Gangnam Style's YouTube fame

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — As "Gangnam Style" gallops toward 1 billion views on YouTube, the first Asian pop artist to capture a massive global audience has gotten richer click by click. So too has his agent and his grandmother. But the money from music sales isn't flowing in from the rapper's homeland South Korea or elsewhere in Asia.

With one song, 34-year-old Park Jae-sang — better known as PSY — is set to become a millionaire from YouTube ads and iTunes downloads, underlining a shift in how money is being made in the music business. An even bigger dollop of cash will come from TV commercials.

From just those sources, PSY and his camp will rake in at least $7.9 million this year, according to an analysis by The Associated Press of publicly available information and industry estimates. But for online music sales in South Korea, he'll earn less than $60,000.

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Big miner buys pair of energy companies for $9 billion

NEW YORK (AP) — Mining company Freeport-McMoRan is buying a pair of oil and gas producers for $9 billion, creating a natural resources conglomerate with assets ranging from oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico to a huge copper mine in Indonesia.

Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc., based in Phoenix, said Wednesday it is paying $6.9 billion in cash and stock for Plains Exploration & Production Co. and $2.1 billion for McMoRan Exploration Co. The miner also will assume $11 billion in debt in the deal.

Plains Exploration, based in Houston, produces oil in California, Texas and the Gulf of Mexico, along with natural gas in Louisiana. McMoRan Exploration, based in New Orleans, is developing natural gas resources that lie deep below shallow water regions of the Gulf of Mexico.

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Longer tamoxifen use cuts breast cancer deaths

Breast cancer patients taking the drug tamoxifen can cut their chances of having the disease come back or kill them if they stay on the pills for 10 years instead of five years as doctors recommend now, a major study finds.

The results could change treatment, especially for younger women. The findings are a surprise because earlier research suggested that taking the hormone-blocking drug for longer than five years didn't help and might even be harmful.

In the new study researchers found that women who took tamoxifen for 10 years lowered their risk of a recurrence by 25 percent and of dying of breast cancer by 29 percent compared to those who took the pills for just five years.

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Olive Garden owner to hold off on worker changes

NEW YORK (AP) — The owner of Olive Garden and Red Lobster says it won't bump any full-time workers down to part-time status, after its tests aimed at limiting health care costs resulted in a publicity backlash that took a bite out of sales.

At the same time, Darden Restaurants Inc. isn't ruling out relying more heavily on part-timers over the long haul.

The company, based in Orlando, Fla., is set to announce Thursday that none of its current full-time employees will have their status changed as a result of the new regulations. The move will come just two days after the company lowered its profit outlook for the year, citing failed promotions and negative publicity from its tests that used more part-time employees. The tests were aimed at keeping down costs tied to new health care regulations, which will require large companies to provide insurance to full-time workers starting in 2014.

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By The Associated Press(equals)

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 82.71 points to end at 13,034.49. The Standard and Poor's 500 closed up 2.23 points to 1,409.28. The Nasdaq composite was down 22.99 points to 2,973.70.

Benchmark crude fell 62 cents to finish at $87.88 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, which is used to price international varieties of oil, fell $1.03 to end at $108.81 per barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

Heating oil fell 1.3 cents to finish at $2.9907 a gallon. Natural gas added 16.1 cents to end at $3.7000 per 1,000 cubic feet. Wholesale gasoline fell 5.12 cents to $2.6378 a gallon.

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