Business Highlights

Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf steps down amid sales scandal

NEW YORK (AP) " Wells Fargo's embattled CEO John Stumpf is stepping down as the nation's second-largest bank is roiled by a scandal over its sales practices.

The San Francisco bank said Wednesday that Stumpf is retiring effective immediately and also relinquishing his title as chairman. It had earlier announced that Stumpf, the bank's CEO since 2007, will forfeit $41 million in stock awards.

Wells Fargo's chief operating officer, Tim Sloan, will succeed Stumpf as CEO. Stephen Sanger, the bank's lead director, will serve as the board's non-executive chairman.

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Closed US restaurants, damaged homes: Matthew may cost $10B

For a storm that inflicted less damage than many had feared, Hurricane Matthew nevertheless impaired or destroyed more than 1 million structures, forced businesses from Florida to North Carolina to close and put thousands temporarily out of work.

In many affected areas, small-business owners were still assessing the damage.

All told, the storm probably caused $10 billion in damage, according to an estimate from Goldman Sachs. Insurance companies will likely be liable for about $4 billion to $6 billion of that total, according to an estimate Saturday by CoreLogic, a real estate data provider.

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Fed saw no-hike decision in September as 'close call'

WASHINGTON (AP) " Federal Reserve officials last month kept a key interest rate unchanged but saw the decision as a "close call." Many believed that the case for a rate hike had strengthened in recent months.

Minutes of the Sept. 20-21 meeting released Wednesday showed Fed officials were inching closer to hiking rates for the first time since last December. But they decided to hold off, given that inflation was still running below their 2 percent target and there was little sign of rising wage pressures.

The minutes said that some officials believed it would be appropriate to raise rates "relatively soon" if the labor market kept improving.

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US job openings fall to lowest level in 8 months

WASHINGTON (AP) " U.S. employers posted the fewest jobs in eight months in August, a sign job gains will likely remain modest in the coming months.

The Labor Department said Wednesday job openings dropped nearly 7 percent to 5.4 million.

The data adds to recent evidence that hiring may be slowing a bit from the robust pace of the previous two years. Yet the economy is still generating enough jobs to lower the unemployment rate over time. And most economists have expected job gains to taper as the number of unemployed has dwindled.

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CSX tops Street 3Q forecasts

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) " CSX Corp. on Wednesday reported better-than-expected net income in the third quarter even as the railroad posted another double-digit decline in the volume of coal it hauled.

The Jacksonville, Florida-based freight railroad operator earned $455 million, or 48 cents per share, for the three months ended Sept. 23, down 10 percent from $507 million, or 52 cents per share, a year ago.

The results beat Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of 13 analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of 45 cents per share.

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Stanley Black & Decker buying Newell tools unit for $1.95B

NEW YORK (AP) " Tool company Stanley Black & Decker Inc. is buying Newell Brands' tools division for $1.95 billion in cash. The unit includes the industrial cutting, hand tool and power tool accessory brands Irwin and Lenox.

Newell Brands Inc. announced recently that it will be selling several divisions as part of a consolidation move.

This is Stanley Black & Decker's first major acquisition since 2013. The transaction is expected to close in the first half of 2017.

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Jim Beam union workers in Kentucky vote in favor of strike

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) " Whiskey workers at two Jim Beam distilleries in Kentucky have threatened to walk off their jobs as efforts to ratify a new contract soured ahead of a deadline.

Members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 111D voted Tuesday evening in favor of going on strike.

The current contract runs through Friday, and Beam Suntory officials said production continued as usual Wednesday. The classic American whiskey brand is owned by Suntory Holdings Ltd., a Japanese beverage company. The company said it was trying to understand the reasons the proposal was turned down.

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Tesla, SolarCity shareholders to vote on merger next month

PALO ALTO, Calif. (AP) " Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk faces a referendum next month, as shareholders decide whether to support his vision and combine Tesla with solar panel company SolarCity Corp.

Tesla and SolarCity announced Wednesday that shareholders will vote on the controversial proposal Nov. 17.

It's a proposal that would unite two companies on shaky financial ground as they plow into relatively new markets. One makes electric cars, the other installs solar panels. Neither is profitable.

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TripAdvisor says it's taking a stand on animal exploitation

BOSTON (AP) " Travel website TripAdvisor says it's taking a stand against animal exploitation by no longer selling bookings to attractions where travelers can make physical contact with captive wild animals or endangered species.

The policy was formed with input from tourism, animal welfare and conservation groups. But many of the millions of travelers who post reviews to the company's website have been concerned about animal welfare for years, company spokesman Brian Hoyt said.

The company also will start providing links on its site to take users to educational research on animal welfare and conservation.

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Samsung sends fire-proof boxes for Galaxy Note 7 returns

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) " Samsung Electronics said Wednesday it is sending fire-resistant packages to its customers in the U.S. as a precaution against possible fires or explosions from Galaxy Note 7s they return to retailers.

Samsung is offering the prepaid shipping boxes as an option for U.S. consumers who purchased the phones on its website. Consumers who purchased their Note 7 phones from mobile carriers should visit the carriers' websites for recall instructions.

The company is discontinuing the Note 7 phones after two recalls and many reports of fires. Samsung must now deal with receiving back more than 1.5 million Galaxy Note 7 phones.

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Film firm fined over Harrison Ford 'Star Wars' set accident

LONDON (AP) " A film production company was fined 1.6 million pounds ($1.95 million) on Wednesday over an accident on the set of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" that broke the leg of star Harrison Ford.

The actor was struck by a hydraulic door on the set of the Millennium Falcon " his character Han Solo's spaceship " on set in 2014. Production on the film was suspended for two weeks after the accident.

Prosecutors said Ford, who was 71 at the time, could have been killed by the door, which struck him with a force comparable to the weight of a small car.

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The Dow Jones industrial average gained 15.54 points, or 0.1 percent, to 18,144.20. The Standard & Poor's 500 index picked up 2.45 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,139.18. The Nasdaq composite lost 7.77 points, or 0.1 percent, to 5,239.02.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil slid 61 cents, or 1.2 percent, to close at $50.18 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the international standard, fell 60 cents, or 1.1 percent, to close at $51.81 a barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline fell 2 cents to $1.46 a gallon. Heating oil lost 2 cents to $1.57 a gallon. Natural gas slid 3 cents to $3.21 per 1,000 cubic feet.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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