Business Highlights

Markets Associated Press

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Stores push deals, hope to lure shoppers for holiday stretch

NEW YORK (AP) — Stores are pushing deals and incentives like free shipping for the final week of the holiday shopping season, as new numbers show people are so far spending at a bit of a slower pace than last year.

Retailers pared down their inventories and offered more exclusive merchandise this season in a bid to avoid having to offer big discounts that shoppers have come to expect. But customers seem willing to wait, and so stores are once again counting on last-minute buyers for the final stretch, particularly Saturday, which could be the busiest day of the year.

"This has really become a game of chicken. In that game of chicken, retailers once again were the ones who flinched," said Joseph Schmitt, director at the retail consulting firm AlixPartners.

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Trump moves to cancel deals in Azerbaijan, Georgia

NEW YORK (AP) — The Trump Organization has canceled a licensing deal for a hotel in Azerbaijan and is taking steps to do the same for a project in neighboring Georgia, part of a string of recent efforts by the president-elect to extricate his business from thorny relationships five weeks before he takes office.

Trump lawyer Alan Garten said Friday that developers in both projects failed to meet terms of licensing deals. He described the moves as "normal housekeeping" and not part of a strategy to reduce potential conflicts of interests.

The moves by the Trump Organization follow a cancellation earlier this week of a licensing deal for a hotel in Brazil. The New York-based company also recently shut down four companies registered in Delaware that appear connected with a possible Saudi Arabia business venture.

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Weak tech, bank stocks pull indexes back from record highs

NEW YORK (AP) — Falling technology and financial stocks pulled U.S. indexes back from the edge of record highs on Friday. Bond yields gave up some of their big gains from the last few days, and the dollar downshifted from its sharp climb against other currencies.

All three major indexes remain within 1 percent of their record highs.

Friday's moves close a week where stocks slowed their sharp ascent since last month's presidential election, and bond yields and the dollar continued their big gains. A driving force was the Federal Reserve's move on Wednesday to raise interest rates.

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US home construction fell in November after October surge

WASHINGTON (AP) — Builders pulled back on constructing homes in November, after ground breakings surged in October to the strongest pace in more than nine years.

Housing starts fell 18.7 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted 1.09 million, the Commerce Department said Friday. The decline likely reflected a natural regression after home construction soared 27 percent to 1.34 million homes in October, the highest level since July 2007.

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Hiring rises at robust pace in 9 US states last month

WASHINGTON (AP) — Employers stepped up their hiring in nine U.S. states last month and cut jobs in two amid modest improvement in the nation's labor market.

The Labor Department said Friday that unemployment rates fell sharply in 18 states and were little changed in 32 states.

Nationwide, the unemployment rate fell to a nine-year low of 4.6 percent last month, as employers added 178,000 jobs. But much of the drop occurred because more Americans stopped looking for work and were no longer counted as unemployed.

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After harsh light, a cheaper version of EpiPen from Mylan

Mylan is releasing a generic version of its emergency allergy treatment EpiPen at half the price of the much-critcized branded option.

Mylan NV said Friday that it will charge $300 for the generic version of its life-saving injections, which come in a two pack. The generic version will begin to reach retail pharmacies next week.

The list price of an EpiPen two-pack, which is stocked by schools and parents of children with severe allergies, now tops $600, an increase of more than 500 percent since 2007, when Mylan bought rights to the drug. The price hikes drew scorn and Congressional inquiry.

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Chipotle, seeking a turnaround, shakes up its board

NEW YORK (AP) — Chipotle is adding four new people to its board as the burrito chain tries to turn its business around.

The picks were made in agreement with activist investor Bill Ackman, whose firm Pershing Square is Chipotle's biggest shareholder. The additions bring Chipotle's board to 12 members.

The board shake up comes on the same week the company announced that founder Steve Ells would take over as sole CEO after serving as co-CEO with Monty Moran.

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Sumner Redstone leaving Viacom board after February meeting

NEW YORK (AP) — Sumner Redstone is leaving the board of Viacom, the movie and TV company he controls, after its February meeting.

The 93-year-old took over Viacom in 1987 but stepped down as executive chairman in February in the middle of a courtroom battle over his health and mental capacity. Viacom said Friday that Redstone will keep his chairman emeritus title and can still attend board meetings, but won't have a vote.

The New York company owns the Paramount Pictures movie studio and networks including MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and BET.

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Mitsubishi recalls 50K SUVs; rear hatches can fall on people

DETROIT (AP) — Mitsubishi is recalling more than 50,000 Outlander Sport SUVs because the rear hatch lift gate can suddenly fall on people.

The company said in documents posted Friday by U.S. safety regulators that the recall covers certain SUVs from the 2011, 2012 and 2016 model years.

Mitsubishi said the outer tube on the lift gate supports may not have been treated properly to prevent rust. That can make the tube corrode when exposed to road salt and water and allow the gas that holds up the hatch to leak out.

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CarMax, others settle US actions over ads on used car safety

WASHINGTON (AP) — CarMax Inc. and two other used-car retailers have settled complaints from federal regulators that they touted their inspections in advertising but failed to disclose that some of the vehicles were under safety recalls and unrepaired.

The Federal Trade Commission on Friday announced the agreements with CarMax, the largest U.S. used-car dealer, Asbury Automotive Group Inc. and West-Herr Automotive Group.

The agency also finalized agreements in similar cases with General Motors Co. and two other retailers.

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Japan, Russia agree on economic ties; stalemate on territory

TOKYO (AP) — Russia and Japan agreed Friday to hold talks on joint economic development of four islands at the center of a decades-old territorial dispute between the countries.

It was a small step forward that fell far short of breaking the stalemate in a dispute that has prevented Russia and Japan from signing a peace treaty formally ending their World War II hostilities.

Joint development "would help foster trust toward a peace treaty," Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe after two days of meetings in Japan.

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The Dow Jones industrial average fell 8.83 points, or less than 0.1 percent, to 19,843.41. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 3.96 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,258.07. The Nasdaq composite fell 19.69 points, or 0.4 percent, to 5,437.16.

U.S. crude oil rose $1 to settle at $51.90 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the international standard, rose $1.19 to close at $55.21 a barrel in London. Natural gas slipped nearly 2 cents to settle at $3.415 per 1,000 cubic feet, wholesale gasoline rose 1.5 cents to $1.56 a gallon and heating oil rose 3 cents to $1.67 a gallon.