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WALL STREET

Stocks waver, a day after biggest rally in 2 years

NEW YORK | A rally that drove major stock indexes up 7 percent this week stalled Thursday. Stock indexes ended slightly lower, a day after the market posted its biggest gain in 2 1/2 years.

Goldman Sachs and other banks, the previous day's star-performers, gave up some of their gains. Costco, Nordstrom and other retailers rose after reporting stronger sales for November.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 25.65 points, or 0.2 percent, to close at 12,020.03. Travelers Cos. Inc. lost 2.2 percent, the biggest drop of the Dow's 30 stocks. Boeing Co. had the biggest gain, 3.3 percent.

The Dow soared 490 points Wednesday, its seventh-best gain on record, on news that central banks around the world slashed the cost of borrowing in order to shore up European banks and avert a deeper credit crisis in the region.

GENERAL MOTORS

Company willing to buy back Volts

NEW YORK | General Motors will buy Chevrolet Volts back from any owner who is afraid the electric cars will catch fire, the company's CEO said Thursday.

In an exclusive interview with the Associated Press, CEO Dan Akerson insisted that the cars are safe, but said the company will purchase the Volts because it wants to keep customers happy. Three fires have broken out in Volts after side-impact crash tests done by the federal government.

Mr. Akerson said that if necessary, GM will recall the more than 6,000 Volts now on the road in the U.S. and repair them once the company and federal safety regulators figure out what caused the fires.

The fires happened seven days to three weeks after tests performed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. GM has said there's no threat of fires immediately after crashes. GM also has said that no Volts involved in real-world crashes have caught fire.

RETAIL

Strong sales reported for November

NEW YORK | Shoppers taking advantage of big discounts and earlier store hours during the start of the holiday shopping season last weekend helped boost retailers' revenue for the entire month of November.

Retailers from Macy's to Costco on Thursday reported monthly revenue at stores open at least a year - an indicator of a merchant's health - that beat Wall Street estimates. The overall tally for the 21 retailers that reported revenue for November rose 3.2 percent, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers.

November results offer an important benchmark for retailers and economists. During the holiday shopping season, merchants can make up to 40 percent of their annual revenue. The period that runs from November through December also gives valuable insights into what it takes to get Americans to spend in the weak economy.

The monthly numbers were boosted by the four-day weekend starting on Thanksgiving Day, the traditional kickoff of the shopping season. Americans spent $52.4 billion over the weekend, the highest total ever recorded during that time, according to the National Retail Federation.

AUTO

Industry: Sales rose 14 percent in November

DETROIT | People are finally replacing the cars and trucks they kept during the economic slump, giving a big boost to U.S. auto sales in November.

Chrysler, Ford, Nissan and Hyundai were among the companies reporting double-digit gains from last November, which is normally a lackluster month because of colder weather and holiday distractions. This November, buyers were lured by good deals, improving confidence in the economy and the need to trade in older cars.

Industry sales rose 14 percent to 994,721, according to Autodata Corp. U.S. sales would hit 13.6 million this year if they stayed at the same pace they did in November. That's a far better rate than the 12.6 million in the first 10 months of this year.

Chrysler Group LLC's sales rose 45 percent from a year earlier. At General Motors Co., sales of the Chevrolet Cruze compact rose 64 percent, while the Silverado pickup, GM's top-selling vehicle, saw sales jump 34 percent.

Ford's sales rose 13 percent.

Toyota's sales rose 7 percent for the month, the first time the company has seen a year-over-year increase since April. But Honda Motor Co. sales fell 10 percent for the month.

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