Business Highlights

By The Associated Press Markets Associated Press

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AP interview: Ryan opens door to tax cuts adding to deficit

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker Paul Ryan is backing off months of promises that the Republicans' tax plan won't add to the nation's ballooning deficit. He declared Wednesday in an AP Newsmaker interview that the most important goal of an overhaul is economic growth. Asked twice whether he would insist the emerging tax plan won't pile more billions onto the $20 trillion national debt, Ryan passed up the chance to affirm that commitment.

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Hurricane victims facing a long road to home reconstruction

For anyone who needs to repair or rebuild a home or business, the back-to-back hurricanes coincided with a nationwide shortage of carpenters, electricians, drywall installers and other skilled workers who are vital to rebuilding. Many construction workers left the industry after the housing bubble burst a decade ago and haven't returned.

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iPhone X puts exclamation point on Apple's pricing strategy

CUPERTINO, Calif. (AP) — Apple has made a luxury iPhone that punctuates its technological swagger with a high-priced exclamation point. The long-anticipated iPhone X unveiled Tuesday will sell for $999, double what the original iPhone cost a decade ago and more than any other competing device on the market. Apple is also rolling out several other premium-priced products that reflect its long-held belief that people will pay more for well-designed devices.

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US budget deficit up slightly to $107.7 billion in August

WASHINGTON (AP) — The federal government recorded a slightly larger deficit in August than a year ago, and the red ink through the first 11 months of this budget year is well above the same period last year. The Treasury Department says the August deficit totaled $107.7 billion, up 0.5 percent from a deficit of $107.1 billion last year.

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Self-driving boats: The next tech transportation race

BOSTON (AP) — Self-driving cars may not hit the road in earnest for many years — but autonomous boats could be just around the pier. Spurred in part by the car industry's race to build driverless vehicles, big shipping companies, startups and researchers are taking advantage of technological breakthroughs, broader public acceptance of artificial intelligence and far less traffic than there is on land.

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Target stocks up on staff, raising holiday hiring 40 percent

NEW YORK (AP) — Target is stocking its stores and warehouses with even more extra staff this holiday shopping season, hoping to win customers with easy-to-find goods and fast service. It's hiring 100,000 people to work at its more than 1,800 stores during its busiest time, up 40 percent from last year.

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Businesses far from the devastation can feel storm's impact

NEW YORK (AP) — Small businesses with customers or suppliers along the Gulf Coast and in Florida are feeling the financial impact from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Sales have dropped off as people and businesses prepared for the hurricanes, and are still down as everyone assesses and deals with the devastation left by the storms. Many companies located far away have to strategize to boost their sales and in some cases, find alternative vendors.

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Irma wrecks tourist spots in Caribbean, spares Disney

Walt Disney World theme parks and Universal Orlando Resort have reopened after Florida was hit by Hurricane Irma, while the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg planned to reopen Wednesday. But many other destinations in Florida and the Caribbean affected by Irma and other storms remain off-limits to visitors. In some cases, it will take days if not weeks to resolve extensive damage or power outages.

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Irma devastates Florida orange crop, harms other produce

LAKE WALES, Fla. (AP) — Hurricane Irma dealt Florida's iconic orange crop a devastating blow, destroying nearly all the fruit in some Southwest Florida groves and seriously damaging groves in Central Florida. With power and communications still out across much of Florida, officials say getting a full picture of Irma's impact on Florida agriculture is going to take weeks. But they expect it will be significant.

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Retailers and energy companies lead US stocks a bit higher

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stock indexes finished with tiny gains Wednesday as retailers jumped after a strong hiring forecast from Target and energy companies rose along with oil prices. Energy companies rose along with oil prices. Banks and technology companies took losses. Nordstrom jumped after a report that the Nordstrom family is close to a deal to take the company private.

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The Standard & Poor's 500 index added 1.89 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,498.37. The Dow Jones industrial average picked up 39.32 points, or 0.2 percent, to 22,158.18. The Nasdaq composite rose 5.91 points, or 0.1 percent, to 6,460.19. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks gained 3.43 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,426.89.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose $1.07, or 2.2 percent, to $49.30 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, added 89 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $55.16 a barrel in London. Heating oil rose 3 cents to $1.77 a gallon and wholesale gasoline lost 1 cent to $1.65 a gallon. Natural gas climbed 6 cents to $3.06 per 1,000 cubic feet.