Business Highlights

Markets Associated Press

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Online sites court procrastinators with speedy shipping

ATLANTA (AP) — Procrastinating holiday shoppers are finding a haven online as retailers ramp up expedited shipping and same-day delivery services.

Amazon is offering a "Procrastinator's Delight" special. Clothing retailer Madewell proclaims on its website that "procrastinators get the best deals" — 25 percent off everything, with orders as late as noon Thursday.

It's a far cry from 2013, when Amazon and package deliverers misjudged demand and delivered some holiday packages after Christmas. Since then, the company has amped up efforts to get packages delivered on time. And package carriers such as FedEx and UPS have also increased staffing and hired outside contractors for the holiday season.

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Euro slips further toward one-to-one with dollar

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — The dollar's upward march has sent the euro currency to its lowest level in 14 years, easing the financial pressure on traveling Americans but giving European exporters a boost.

The euro, used by 19 countries, fell as low as $1.0352 Tuesday, which is its lowest level since early 2003.

A major factor has been the prospect of more interest rate hikes by the U.S. Federal Reserve following a quarter-point increase in its benchmark rate last week. Higher interest rates in the U.S. increase returns on dollar investments and spur demand for the currency.

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Travel stocks rise as Dow inches closer to 20,000

NEW YORK (AP) — Big gains for banks and companies focused on travel helped propel U.S. stock indexes to record levels on Tuesday. The Dow Jones industrial average moved closer than ever to 20,000, but the symbolic threshold remained just out of reach.

Banks once again led the way Tuesday as bond yields and interest rates bounced higher. Strong earnings from cruise line operator Carnival and gains for travel website TripAdvisor led consumer companies higher. Household goods makers fell after General Mills cut its sales projection, and energy companies fell for the second day in a row.

The markets' recent gains have some investors thinking that stocks won't move much in 2017.

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FedEx earnings miss expectations as expenses rise

NEW YORK (AP) — FedEx reported second-quarter earnings that missed Wall Street expectations as the shipping company's expenses soared.

FedEx reported net income of $700 million, or $2.59 per share, for the most recent quarter. Earnings, adjusted to remove the costs related to its recent acquisition of TNT Express, were $2.80 per share. That's far below the $2.91 per share that analysts expected, according to FactSet.

Revenue rose 20 percent to $14.93 billion, beating the $14.91 billion that analysts expected.

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Gov't probes rollaway issue like one blamed in Yelchin death

DETROIT (AP) — The U.S. auto safety agency has opened an investigation into complaints that another 1 million Fiat Chrysler vehicles can roll away after the owners shift transmissions into park, a problem similar to the one being blamed in the death of Star Trek actor Anton Yelchin.

The investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration covers Fiat Chrysler's top-selling vehicle, the Ram 1500 pickup, from the 2013 to 2016 model years, as well as the 2014 to 2016 Dodge Durango SUV. The rollaway complaints are similar those that prompted the recall of 1.1 million Jeep Grand Cherokees and other vehicles earlier this year, although those vehicles have different shifters.

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Walgreens, Rite Aid shed 865 stores to close $9.4B deal

Walgreens and Rite Aid will sell 865 stores to rival retailer Fred's for $950 million, potentially removing the final roadblock thwarting a tie up between the nation's largest and third-largest drugstore chains.

Walgreens is working to close its $9.4 billion purchase of Rite Aid early next year. It said Tuesday that it's selling the Rite Aid stores in response to concerns raised by federal anti-trust regulators. The deal still needs to be approved by the Federal Trade Commission.

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US probes complaints of engine fires in tiny Smart cars

DETROIT (AP) — U.S. safety regulators are reviewing eight complaints that the engines in tiny Smart Fortwo cars can catch fire.

The investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration covers about 43,000 of the two-seat cars from the 2008 and 2009 model years.

The agency said in documents posted Tuesday that in six cases, owners saw smoke, the check engine light, or heard an unusual noise before seeing flames. The other two fires weren't observed until the cars were stopped. All eight owners told the agency that flames rapidly engulfed the cars. No injuries have been reported.

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EU watchdog probes Facebook over WhatsApp merger

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Commission is investigating whether Facebook gave misleading information about its takeover of mobile messaging service WhatsApp.

The EU's executive body on Tuesday gave Facebook until Jan. 31 to answer a "statement of objections" about merger information the social media giant gave the Commission two years ago.

The Commission, the EU's merger and anti-trust watchdog, is concerned that Facebook can match its users' accounts with WhatsApp user accounts. The company said in 2014 that it could not do this. But Facebook's August terms of service and privacy update suggest it can, according to the Commission.

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Maker of Signal says app is being blocked in Egypt

CAIRO (AP) — An encrypted messaging app often used by journalists and activists in Egypt has been blocked by authorities, its maker said late Monday.

Signal's owner, San Francisco-based Open Whisper Systems, said that it had investigated complaints over connectivity issues from Egyptians and "have confirmed that Egypt is censoring access to Signal."

The group that it would begin "deploying censorship circumvention" in the coming weeks.

It was not immediately possible to reach Egyptian officials for comment on the alleged ban Tuesday. Communications disruptions aren't unusual in Egypt, a country which drew global attention after a nationwide internet blackout in 2011.

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Disney among 6 retailers stopping on-call shift scheduling

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Disney and Aeropostale are among six retailers that have agreed to stop using on-call scheduling following an inquiry by nine attorneys general. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says about 50,000 workers nationwide will benefit.

On-call scheduling requires employees to call before a scheduled shift to find out if they have to work that day. It affects workers who must arrange child care.

A Disney spokeswoman says the retailer started phasing out on-call scheduling in July 2015.

Rounding out the six companies are Carter's, David's Tea, PacSun and Zumiez. They're among 15 retailers who received a joint letter from the attorneys general.

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The Dow Jones industrial average gained 91.56 points, or 0.4 percent, to close at 19,974.62. The Standard & Poor's 500 index picked up 8.23 points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,270.76. The Nasdaq composite also finished at a record as it added 26.50 points, or 0.5 percent, to 5,483.94.

Benchmark U.S. crude gained 11 cents to $52.23 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, the international standard, jumped 43 cents to $55.35 a barrel in London. In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline added 3 cents to $1.59 a gallon. Heating oil stayed at $1.67 a gallon. Natural gas dropped 13 cents, or 3.8 percent, to $3.26 per 1,000 cubic feet.