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Economy Briefs: Apple: iPhone 5 in stores Sept. 21

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SAN FRANCISCO — Apple on Wednesday revealed that the new iPhone 5 will be in stores in the U.S. and several other countries on Sept. 21.

The other launch countries are Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and the U.K..

A week later, the phone will be available in 22 more countries, including Italy, Poland and Spain.

In the U.S., pre-orders will start on Friday, Sept. 14.

The phone is thinner and lighter than the iPhone 4S, yet has a taller screen, as expected. That means another row of icons will fit on the screen, but the phone isn't wider or taller than its predecessors.

The phone will cost the same as the iPhone 4S did when it debuted, starting at $199 with a two-year contract in the U.S. Meanwhile, the price for the iPhone 4S will drop to $99 for new contract signers, and the iPhone 4 will be free.

SURVEY

FDIC: 8.2% of households don't have bank accounts

A government survey shows about 821,000 U.S. households lost access to basic banking services between January 2009 and June 2011.

Roughly 10 million U.S. households, or 8.2 percent, have no access to bank accounts, according to a survey conducted by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. That's up from 7.7 percent in the FDIC's 2009 survey.

And an even larger percentage of Americans are relying on high-interest alternatives, even those with traditional bank accounts. The survey found 28.3 percent either lacked bank accounts or used payday loans, check-cashing services and other alternatives as of June 2011. That's up from 25.6 percent in the previous survey.

The survey found 21.4 percent of black families and 20.1 percent of Hispanic families had no banking services.

RETAIL

Toys R Us to offer 'hot toy' reservation program

NEW YORK — The holidays are already heating up at Toys R Us.

The largest U.S. specialty toy retailer outlined its plan for its busiest season Wednesday — including adding a "hot toy" reservation system, beefing up services like layaway and ship-to-store, and offering more exclusive toys like its $149.99 Tabeo tablet.

The holidays are crucial for retailers, particularly toy stores. The season can account for up to 40 percent of annual sales.

In the biggest change, Toys R Us, based in Wayne, N.J., will offer a "hot toy" reservation system starting over the next few days — when the company announces its 50 products on its annual 'hot toy' list. The reservation system will run through the end of October.

Toys must be reserved in stores — in order to avoid online scammers -- and customers have to put down 20 percent to reserve the toy.

GASOLINE

Prices hit $8 in N.J., Pa. in Lukoil protest

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, N.J. — More than 50 Lukoil gas stations in New Jersey and Pennsylvania were jacking up prices to more than $8 a gallon Wednesday to protest what they say are unfair pricing practices by Lukoil North America that they say leave them at a competitive disadvantage.

Sal Risalvato of the New Jersey Gasoline, Convenience, Automotive Association said the protest was aimed at raising consumer awareness about the challenges facing Lukoil dealers and to get Lukoil to respond to dealer grievances.

He said Lukoil engages in various practices that force franchisees to pay higher prices for their fuel than competitors. It is not uncommon for Lukoil dealers to see a competitor selling gas to the public for considerably less than what they're paying Lukoil for their latest delivery, he said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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