Business Highlights

Business Highlights

Associated Press

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Wish granted: Same day delivery for the holidays

NEW YORK (AP) -- A procrastinator's holiday wish come true: Presents ordered at the last minute can now show up under the Christmas tree that same day.

Amazon, Target, Macy's and other retailers are offering speedier delivery, including overnight and same-day options that will continue even past the holidays.

The focus on faster shipping is one way retailers are catering to shoppers who've become increasingly finicky and impatient. Since the recession, it's not enough to get lower prices; they want the deepest discounts. And when it comes to ordering online, orders need to be shipped fast.

Quick delivery is important for retailers as they head into the winter holiday shopping season, a time when they can make up to 40 percent of their annual sales. U.S. shoppers are expected to spend $61 billion online in November and December, according to research firm comScore.

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Do you need to break the bank to get a good phone?

NEW YORK (AP) -- It might seem as though everyone has an iPhone or Galaxy smartphone. But many customers are eschewing the best cameras and screens — and their top-end price tags — and choosing models that can get the job done at less than a third of the cost.

Sales of high-end Samsung and Apple phones remain robust, but demand for budget phones is growing. About a third of the smartphones sold in the U.S. between July and September cost less than $200, up from 18 percent a year ago, according to tech research firm IDC. A top-end phone costs $600 to $700 at full price, before the subsidies some phone companies offer in exchange for committing to two-year service contracts.

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Japan's young fret as unexpected recession hits

TOKYO (AP) -- When Prime Minister Shinzo Abe responded to Japan's surprise recession by delaying a sales-tax increase, it was a cause for worry, not celebration, for many young Japanese. This generation, barely aware of their country's economic heyday, frets that putting off tough decisions now could make the future even worse.

Despite Abe's unprecedented stimulus efforts — almost everything short of dropping money from helicopters — Japan has slipped into recession less than two years after the last one. With the country's debt rising, population aging and job security fading, young people in particular wonder when, and if, Japan will bounce back.

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Automakers aim to drive away car computer hackers

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Against the team of hackers, the poor car stood no chance.

Meticulously overwhelming its computer networks, the hackers showed that — given time — they would be able to pop the trunk and start the windshield wipers, cut the brakes or lock them up, and even kill the engine.

Their motives were not malicious. These hackers worked on behalf of the U.S. military, which along with the auto industry is scrambling to fortify the cyber defenses of commercially available cars before criminals and even terrorists penetrate them.

These days, when Chris Valasek isn't working his day job for a computer security firm, he's seeing how Bluetooth might offer an entry point.

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ECB official calls for gov't action to help growth

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) -- A member of the European Central Bank's rate-setting council has said monetary policy cannot boost long-term growth and called for reforms by governments to make the weak economy more investment-friendly.

The remarks come as ECB officials weigh whether to launch more stimulus measures to pull the 18 countries that share the euro out of an extended period of sluggish growth and high unemployment. The ECB is the currency union's chief monetary authority.

Jens Weidmann said in the text of a speech in Madrid on Monday that low interest rates and stimulus measures can boost short-term demand but that central bank action "cannot permanently boost growth prospects."

Weidmann, who also heads Germany's Bundesbank central bank, said that long-term growth depended on countries' willingness to lower barriers to investment by streamlining bureaucracy and rules on hiring and firing.

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FDA strengthens warning on device linked to cancer

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -- U.S. regulators on Monday strengthened their warning against use of a once-popular device for gynecologic surgery that can spread unsuspected cancer, saying its risk is only justified in a fraction of patients.

The Food and Drug Administration updated its April safety warning, saying doctors should not use the devices, called laparoscopic power morcellators, for performing a hysterectomy or removing uterine fibroids "in the vast majority of women."

The FDA's Dr. William Maisel said there are safer options for the procedures for most patients. But he said the device may be appropriate for a small number of women who need to have fibroids removed, but want to protect their uterus in case they decide to have a baby in the future. Fibroids are benign, but sometimes painful, tumors in the wall of the uterus.

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Merck, Iowa firm sign Ebola vaccine licensing deal

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -- Merck & Co., a top creator and seller of vaccines, has joined the fight against Ebola, the often-fatal hemorrhagic virus that's been ravaging parts of West Africa for months.

Merck, based in Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, said Monday it has entered a global partnership with a small U.S. drug developer to research and manufacture a potential Ebola vaccine now in initial patient testing.

The exclusive deal involves rVSV-EBOV, a vaccine candidate under early development by BioProtection Systems, the vaccine-development subsidiary of NewLink Genetics Corp. of Ames, Iowa.

It was created in labs of the Public Health Agency of Canada, which in 2010 signed a deal giving BioProtection Systems an exclusive license for the vaccine and the technology for producing it.

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United Technologies CEO retires, succeeded by CFO

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Aerospace and building systems giant United Technologies announced Monday the abrupt retirement of CEO Louis Chenevert, and named Chief Financial Officer Greg Hayes to succeed him.

Chenevert, 56, is also stepping down as chairman. He had been appointed to both jobs in 2008.

He steered United Technologies' $18.4 billion purchase of aerospace parts maker Goodrich Corp. in 2012. It was the industry's largest deal and boosted the company's presence in the profitable commercial airline business as its military segments declined.

The company said he informed the board of directors that his retirement from both posts was effective immediately. Edward A. Kangas, lead independent director, has been elected non-executive chairman of the board.

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Honda admits failing to report deaths, injuries

DETROIT (AP) -- Honda is admitting that it failed to report more than 1,700 injury and death claims about its vehicles to U.S. safety regulators, a violation of federal law.

The Japanese automaker, in statements issued Monday, also said it became aware of the omissions in 2011, yet it took about three years to take action.

The company said it filed documents detailing the lapses on Monday with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which had demanded an explanation on Nov. 3. The agency said at the time that Honda may have failed to report incidents related to air bags made by Takata Corp. as well as other defective parts. Honda has recalled more than 5 million vehicles in the U.S. since 2008 to fix a potentially fatal defect in air bags made by Japanese auto supplier Takata. The bags can rupture after a crash and injure occupants with shards of metal.

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones Industrial average climbed 7.84 points, or 0.3 percent, to 17,817.90. The S&P 500 index added 5.91 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,069.41. The Nasdaq composite rose 41.92 points, or 0.9 percent, to 4,754.89.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell 73 cents to settle at $75.78 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, fell 68 cents to close at $79.68 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London. In other energy futures trading on the NYMEX, wholesale gasoline fell 2.3 cents to $2.033 a gallon, heating oil fell a penny to $2.395 a gallon and natural gas fell 11.5 cents to $4.151 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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