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FACTORY

Orders rise for equipment, machinery

Companies ordered more machinery, computers and communication equipment in August, a positive sign for the slumping U.S. economy.

An increase in demand for those kind of longer-lasting factory goods suggests businesses are sticking with their investment plans, despite slow growth and weak consumer spending.

Overall orders for durable goods slipped 0.1 percent last month. The modest decline was largely due to an 8.5 percent drop in orders for autos and auto parts. In July, demand for those goods surged 10.2 percent — the biggest increase in eight years.

TECHNOLOGY

$199 Kindle Fire tablet unveiled by Amazon

NEW YORK — Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos on Wednesday showed off the Kindle Fire, a $199 tablet computer, challenging Apple’s iPad by extending its Kindle brand into the world of full-color, multipurpose devices.

Mr. Bezos also took the opportunity at a New York press event to introduce a new line of Kindle e-readers with black-and-white screens and lower prices, further pressuring competitors like Barnes & Noble Inc. that are trying to break Amazon.com Inc.’s dominance in electronic book sales.

The Kindle Fire will go on sale Nov. 15. It’s about half the size of the iPad, making it a close match with Barnes & Noble’s Nook Color tablet, which came out last year. But while Barnes & Noble sees the Nook Color as jazzed-up e-reader, Amazon has broader goals for the Fire, as a platform for games, movies, music and other applications.

FTC

Reebok to pay consumers over dispute

Reebok will pay $25 million to customers to settle charges by the Federal Trade Commission that it made deceptive claims in ads that its toning shoes would strengthen and tone the legs and buttocks of those who wear them.

The athletic shoe and apparel company is also barred from making any claims of the strengthening effects of the shoes unless it is backed by scientific evidence.

A spokesman for Reebok International Ltd., based in Canton, Mass., was not available to comment. The company is owned by German shoe company Adidas.

Consumers will be paid either directly from the FTC or through a court-approved class-action lawsuit.

INTERNET

Groupon newest deal to reward customer loyalty

SAN FRANCISCO — Groupon has come up with another way for bargain hunters to save money as the online coupon distributor prepares to raise money from wary investors.

The additional savings will be offered through a customer loyalty program that Groupon unveiled Wednesday.

Merchants who join the service can now set a spending target for customers to hit, after which they qualify for an even steeper discount than Groupon usually offers through the millions of daily deals it sells each week.

The program launched Wednesday for merchants in the Philadelphia area, and consumers there will start getting the promotions Oct. 14.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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