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The Associated Press | December 14, 2012 06:06 PM EST | AP


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Holiday shoppers may see big discounts soon

NEW YORK (AP) – If shoppers don't show up in stores soon, more "70 percent off" sale signs will.

After a promising start to the holiday shopping season over the four-day Thanksgiving weekend, sales have slowed, according to an analysis of data done for The Associated Press by sales tracker ShopperTrak. Worries about weak U.S. job growth and other concerns are likely to blame for Americans spending less.

That puts pressure on J.C. Penney, Macy's and other stores, which offered fewer discounts this year, to step up promotions to lure shoppers.

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Gasoline prices soon to hit low point for 2012

Gas prices will soon drop to their lowest level of the year.

By Monday the national average should fall below $3.28 a gallon, what drivers paid on Jan. 1, according to analysts. The drop is a gift for those hitting the road during what is expected to be the busiest Christmas travel season in six years.

Still, it's more like a stocking stuffer. That's because for the second straight year, Americans will spend a record amount on gasoline. The government estimates that gas averaged $3.63 a gallon this year, 10 cents above the record set a year ago.

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Cheaper gas lowers US consumer prices 0.3 percent

WASHINGTON (AP) – A steep fall in gas costs pushed down U.S. consumer prices last month, keeping inflation mild.

The seasonally adjusted consumer price index dropped 0.3 percent in November from October, the Labor Department said Friday. Gas prices fell 7.4 percent, the biggest drop in nearly four years. That offset a 0.2 percent rise in food prices.

In the past year consumer prices have risen 1.8 percent, down from October's 12-month increase of 2.2 percent.

Excluding the volatile food and gas categories, prices ticked up 0.1 percent in November. Core prices have risen 1.9 percent in the past year – below the Federal Reserve's annual target of 2 percent.

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Best Buy shares fall on Schulze bid extension

NEW YORK (AP) – Best Buy shares fell on Friday after the struggling electronics retailer extended the window for co-founder Richard Schulze to make a buyout bid until after the holiday season.

Shares fell $2.07, or 14.6 percent, to close at $12.05 Friday.

That erased most of the gains made Thursday when Best Buy shares jumped 16 percent on a report in the Minneapolis Star Tribune that Schulze would make a bid by the end of the week. The report cited unidentified sources.

On Friday Best Buy said Schulze can make his offer between Feb. 1 and Feb. 28. The original deadline was Sunday, 60 days after the due diligence period started.

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US manufacturing output rises 1.1 percent in November

WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. factories rebounded in November from Superstorm Sandy, boosting production of cars, equipment and appliances. But after factoring out the impact from the storm, the broader trend in manufacturing remained weak.

The Federal Reserve said Friday that factory output increased 1.1 percent in November from October. That offset a 1 percent decline in the previous month, which was blamed on the storm.

Auto production jumped 4.5 percent last month, the first increase since July. Production of primary metals, wood products, electrical equipment and appliances all showed gains.

Total industrial output at factories, mines and utilities rose also rose 1.1 percent last month, after a 0.7 percent decline in October.

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Korea says Samsung chip plant caused cancer

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – A South Korean government agency said Friday that working at a Samsung Electronics factory caused the breast cancer of a worker who died earlier this year, only the second time it has recognized a link between cancer and Samsung's chip plants.

The Korea Workers' Compensation and Welfare Service, which is part of the labor ministry, ruled earlier this month that there was a "considerable causal relationship" between the woman's cancer and her five years of work at a semiconductor plant near Seoul. The ruling didn't become public until Friday when the agency announced compensation for the woman's family.

Samsung spokesman James Chung said the company will not appeal the government's decision. Samsung is the world's largest maker of computer memory chips.

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Southwest to charge customers who don't show up

DALLAS (AP) – Southwest Airlines Co. will start charging a no-show fee for passengers who fail to cancel tickets before their flights.

The company also said Friday that fees on early check-in and oversized bags are going up. And it repeated a longtime goal for boosting profits that could only be met next year if it doubles earnings.

Southwest brags that it doesn't charge ticket-change fees, and it lets customers apply the price of an unused ticket to a later trip.

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Akzo Nobel sells US house paints arm for $1.05 billion

AMSTERDAM (AP) – Akzo Nobel NV, the biggest maker of paints and coatings by sales, says it has agreed to sell its U.S. house paints arm for $1.05 billion to PPG Industries Inc.

Akzo is the main supplier of in-store paints for Wal-Mart and makes the Glidden brand, among others. Although the business had sales of $1.5 billion in 2011, analysts believed it was not as profitable as Akzo's larger industrial paints and coatings businesses. Akzo said it will use proceeds to focus on growth in stronger markets.

The sale is the first strategic move by new CEO Ton Buechner, who joined the company in April but left shortly afterward due to fatigue. He returned last week.

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Discovery to buy Nordic TV networks for $1.7 billion

SILVER SPRING, Md. (AP) – The parent company of the Discovery Channel said Friday that it is buying 12 TV networks in Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland in a deal worth about $1.7 billion.

Discovery Communications Inc. said the deal with German TV company ProSiebenSat.1 Group for its SBS Nordic operations expands its presence in the Nordic markets.

It also boosts its brand portfolio by adding general entertainment, scripted and sports programming to its lineup of services for the first time. The acquisition also includes SBS Nordic's 19 radio stations and other assets.

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By The Associated Press(equals)

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 35.71 points to 13,135.01. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 5.87 points to close at 1,413.58, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite sank 20.83 points to 2,971.33.

Benchmark crude rose 84 cents Friday to end at $86.73 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to set prices for international varieties of oil, rose $1.72 to finish at $108.18 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

Heating oil rose 4 cents to end at $2.98 a gallon. Natural gas lost 3 cents to finish at $3.31 per 1,000 cubic feet. Wholesale gasoline added 6 cents to end at $2.66 a gallon.