Business Highlights

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Shoppers hunt for deals, hit the shops for entertainment

NEW YORK (AP) " Shoppers were on the hunt for deals and were at the stores for entertainment Friday as malls opened for what is still one of the busiest days of the year, even as the start of the holiday season edges ever earlier.

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, used to launch the holiday season, but the competition to grab customers first is keen. Stores like Macy's, Walmart, Target and more were open Thursday evening in what they hope will be a new holiday tradition as they try to fight off competition from online juggernaut Amazon.

Retailers have also been spreading deals out more throughout the week.

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For some in middle class, Trump plan would mean tax increase

WASHINGTON (AP) " President-elect Donald Trump's proposals would modestly cut income taxes for most middle-class Americans. But for nearly 8 million families " including a majority of single-parent households " the opposite would occur: They'd pay more.

Most married couples with three or more children would also pay higher taxes, an analysis by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center found. And while middle-class families as a whole would receive tax cuts of about 2 percent, they'd be dwarfed by the windfalls averaging 13.5 percent for America's richest 1 percent.

Trump's campaign rhetoric had promoted the benefits of his proposals for middle-income Americans.

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US stocks rise to fresh records in shortened session

NEW YORK (AP) " Stocks hit fresh records in a shortened trading session Friday as investors continued to bet on a pickup in economic growth and rising corporate profits.

The gains were modest but broad, with nearly every sector in the Standard and Poor's 500 index rising. Utilities rose the most, up 1.4 percent.

Indexes have been rising since the presidential election, and the close on Friday capped a third week in a row of S&P 500 gains. The index is up 4 percent so far this month.

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Report: Russian propaganda effort spread fake news

NEW YORK (AP) " A new report suggests a "sophisticated" Russian propaganda campaign helped flood social media with fake news stories leading up to the presidential election.

The Washington Post, citing a yet-to-be published report from independent researchers, said the goal was to punish Hillary Clinton, help Donald Trump, and undermine faith in American democracy.

The report comes from a nonpartisan group of researchers called PropOrNot. The group describes itself as "concerned American citizens" with expertise in computer science, national security and public policy. The researchers say they traced the origins of posts and mapped the connections among accounts that delivered similar messages.

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Johnson & Johnson in early talks to buy drugmaker Actelion

NEW YORK (AP) " Johnson & Johnson is in early talks to buy the Swiss drugmaker Actelion Pharmaceuticals.

Actelion Pharmaceuticals Ltd. makes high blood pressure medicines that treat arteries in the lung and around the heart. Johnson & Johnson of New Brunswick, New Jersey, develops drugs and manufactures medical devices and other consumer products.

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Self-driving truck hits the road as Ohio discusses research

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) " A self-driving truck will begin traveling on two Ohio roads next week after state officials announced details of new investments to support innovative transportation technology.

A vehicle from self-driving truck maker Otto will travel a 35-mile stretch of U.S. Route 33 on Monday in central Ohio between Dublin and East Liberty, home to the Transportation Research Center, an independent testing facility. It will travel in regular traffic, and a driver in the truck will be positioned to intervene should anything go awry, Department of Transportation spokesman Matt Bruning said.

Officials say that section of Route 33 " a four-lane, divided road " is an important piece of autonomous vehicle research in the state and will become a corridor where new technologies can be safely tested in real-life traffic, aided by a fiber-optic cable network and sensor systems slated for installation next year. Gov. John Kasich is scheduled to discuss details of that investment and other efforts to support autonomous vehicle research on Monday before the truck hits the road.

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European Union gets tough: Bloc tells UK Brexit is lose-lose situation

LONDON (AP) " Since Britain voted to leave the European Union, U.K. officials have had one message: Brexit means Brexit.

Now they have EU leaders' reply: And it's going to hurt.

The prime minister of Malta, whose country is about to assume the EU presidency, is the latest leader to dash Britain's hopes of an easy divorce, signaling that the 27 other nations will drive a hard bargain.

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13 detained in China over deadly construction collapse

BEIJING (AP) " Chinese authorities said they detained 13 people over the collapse of scaffolding at a power plant construction site that killed 74 workers in one of China's most serious industrial accidents in years.

Most of the dead had been working on the interior concrete wall of a massive circular cooling tower 70 meters (230 feet) up when the scaffolding collapsed Thursday morning.

Although authorities did not disclose details about the 13 detentions, the focus of the investigation has turned to the power plant's operator, Jiangxi Ganneng, and a major engineering firm, Hebei Yineng, which has taken on multiple high-profile power plant projects and has a history of workplace fatalities.

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Hundreds more flights canceled on day 3 of Lufthansa strike

BERLIN (AP) " Germany's largest airline, Lufthansa, canceled 830 short- and medium-haul flights on Friday affecting 100,000 passengers after a pilots' strike entered its third day in a long-running dispute over wages.

The carrier also announced the cancellation of another 137 long-haul flights scheduled for Saturday, affecting 30,000 more passengers.

Since the strikes started on Wednesday the airline has had to cancel 2,863 flights, affecting 345,000 passengers.

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Ukraine says it's ready to resume gas purchases from Russia

MOSCOW (AP) " Ukraine's state-owned energy company says it's ready to resume gas purchases from Russia.

The statement was released several hours after the Russian energy minister and the European Union's energy chief met for talks in Moscow on Friday and said representatives of the EU, Russia and Ukraine could get together next month to discuss gas supplies for Ukraine.

Naftogaz stopped buying gas from Russia last November after it had used up a $500 million loan from the European Commission for the purchase of gas supplies that are vital to get through the cold Ukrainian winter. Ukraine has since then relied on the so-called reverse supply of gas, buying it from European countries who had received it from Russia.

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The Dow Jones industrial average rose 68.96 points, or 0.4 percent, to 19,152.14. The S&P 500 climbed 8.63 points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,213.35. The Nasdaq composite added 18.24 points, or 0.3 percent, to 5,398.92.

Benchmark U.S. crude fell $1.90, or 4 percent, to $46.06 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, lost $1.90, or 3.9 percent, to $47.10 in London. Wholesale gasoline fell 5 cents to $1.37 a gallon, heating oil lost 5 cents to $1.47 a gallon and natural gas rose 6 cents to $3.09 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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

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