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Business Highlights

Associated Press Updated: November 25, 2014 at 6:15 pm

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US economy posts even stronger growth in Q3

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. economy grew even faster in the third quarter than initially thought, posting the strongest six months of growth in more than a decade and pulling further ahead of other big economies of the world.

The gross domestic product, the country's total output of goods and services, expanded at a healthy 3.9 percent annual rate in the July-September period, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday. That's a notable jump from its first estimate of 3.5 percent. The revision was propelled higher by more robust consumer and business spending.

Together with a 4.6 percent surge in the spring, the country has recorded its biggest back-to-back quarterly performance since 2003.

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Thanksgiving trumps Black Friday for deals

NEW YORK (AP) — Thanksgiving could be the best day to shop all year.

An analysis of sales data and store circulars by two research firms contradicts conventional wisdom that Black Friday is when shoppers can get the most and biggest sales of the year.

Turns out, shoppers will find more discounted items in stores that are open on Thanksgiving. For example, there are a total of 86 laptops and tablets deeply discounted as door buster deals at Best Buy, Wal-Mart and others on the holiday compared with just nine on Black Friday, according to an analysis of promotions for The Associated Press by researcher MarketTrack.

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As OPEC faces tough test, lower oil prices loom

NEW YORK (AP) — These are the moments OPEC exists for: A sharp drop in global oil prices has reduced the amount of money OPEC countries take in by nearly $1 billion a day.

The 12-member group's purpose is to coordinate how much oil is produced in order to keep prices high and stable and maximize member countries' revenue while making sure global demand for oil stays strong. A steep, coordinated cut in output could stop and possibly reverse what has been a 32 percent decline in prices over five months.

But there is widespread doubt that OPEC will be able to do much of anything when it meets Thursday in Vienna. Either the members won't agree to a cut, analysts say, or the cut will be too small to influence oil prices. They could also, as in the past, agree to lower production but then fail to stick to the target.

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Google's latest: A spoon that steadies tremors

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (AP) — Google is throwing its money, brain power and technology at the humble spoon.

But these spoons (don't call them spoogles) are a bit more than your basic utensil: Using hundreds of algorithms, they allow people with essential tremors and Parkinson's disease to eat without spilling.

The technology senses how a hand is shaking and makes instant adjustments to stay balanced. In clinical trials, the Liftware spoons reduced shaking of the spoon bowl by an average of 76 percent.

Other adaptive devices have been developed to help people with tremors — rocker knives, weighted utensils, pen grips. But until now, experts say, technology has not been used in this way.

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New iPhones push Apple's market cap past $700B

NEW YORK (AP) — Apple, already the world's most valuable company, surpassed $700 billion in market capitalization Tuesday as its stock hit another all-time high.

The company unveiled the latest version if the iPhone two months ago and sales have been surging. During its last quarter, Apple sold 39.3 million iPhones and said that it expected revenue from the sale of all of its products to come in between $63.5 billion and $66.5 billion in the current quarter.

Apple shares have risen 48 percent in 2014 and the company announced its first stock split in 9 years.

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US home price gains slow for 10th straight month

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. home prices rose in September at the slowest pace in more than two years, reflecting modest sales gains and a rising number of available homes.

The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index, released Tuesday, increased 4.9 percent in September from 12 months earlier. But that's down from 5.6 percent in August and the smallest gain since October 2012.

On a monthly basis, the 20-city index was unchanged, the first flat reading in seven months. The monthly changes aren't adjusted for seasonal factors such as colder weather, which can impact sales. Prices dropped in nine of 20 cities from August.

Home price gains have slowed this year after rapid, double-digit increases in the previous two years. Investors helped drive the strong gains by bidding up prices but have started to cut back on their purchases. Smaller price gains and low mortgage rates could make housing more affordable.

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US consumer confidence falls in November

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. consumer confidence fell in November following a big gain the previous month, as Americans became less bullish about the economy and jobs.

The Conference Board said Tuesday that its consumer confidence index fell to 88.7 in November, down from a seven-year high of 94.5 in October.

Conference Board economist Lynn Franco said that the decline primarily reflected weaker optimism in the short-term, with consumers less upbeat about current business conditions and the state of the job market.

But she added that expectations about future income remained virtually unchanged.

Private economists expect a quick reversal of the November drop, especially given the large declines motorists are seeing in gas prices.

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US bank earnings up 7.3 percent in 3Q

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. bank earnings rose 7.3 percent in the July-September quarter from a year earlier, as banks reduced their expenses and continued to lend out more money, which help drive up revenue.

The data issued Tuesday by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. showed that the banking industry continues to recover from the financial crisis that struck six years ago.

Banks and other financial institutions insured by the FDIC earned $38.7 billion in the third quarter, up from $36.1 billion a year ago. The percentage of unprofitable banks fell to 6.4 percent of institutions, versus 8.7 percent a year ago.

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Calorie count to appear with many prepared foods

WASHINGTON (AP) — Diners will soon know how many calories are in that bacon cheeseburger at a chain restaurant, the pasta salad in the supermarket salad bar and even that buttery tub of popcorn at the movie theater.

The Food and Drug Administration announced long-delayed calorie labeling rules Tuesday, requiring establishments that sell prepared foods and have 20 or more locations to post the calorie content of food and beverages "clearly and conspicuously" on their menus, menu boards and displays. Companies have until a year from now to comply.

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones Industrial average dropped 2.96 points, or less than 0.1 percent, to 17,814.94. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 2.38 points, or less than 0.1 percent, to 2,067.03. The Nasdaq composite gained 3.36 points, or 0.1 percent, to 4,758.25.

Benchmark U.S. crude fell $1.69 to close at $74.09 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, fell $1.35 to close at $78.33 on the ICE Futures exchange in London. Wholesale gasoline fell 0.1 cent to close at $2.032 a gallon. Heating oil fell 0.1 cents to close at $2.395 a gallon. Natural gas rose 13.1 cents to close at $4.282 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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