- Associated Press - Monday, November 23, 2015

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$160B deal to combine Pfizer and Allergan raises outcry

A $160 billion deal announced Monday to merge Pfizer and Allergan and create the world’s biggest drug company renewed the outcry in Washington over “inversions,” in which U.S. corporations combine with companies overseas to lower their tax bill.

The combination - the second-largest merger in history - could have ramifications around the globe, pushing up drug prices and spurring more such deals in the fast-consolidating health care sector and other fields. It is also increasing the election-year backlash from U.S. politicians who have been criticizing drugmakers recently over medicine prices that sometimes exceed $100,000 a year.

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Stuck waiting: ground delays at US airports on the rise

NEW YORK (AP) - An Associated Press analysis finds airplanes spent an average of 23 minutes, 32 seconds taxiing between gates and runways during the first nine months of this year.

That’s the longest it’s been since the Bureau of Transportation Statistics started tracking taxi times in 1995. It’s a 50-second increase over last year.

The top offender is Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. Of all the additional time, one of out of five extra minutes can be traced back to delays at O’Hare. Planes in Chicago spent an average of 1 minute and 18 seconds extra navigating taxiways.

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US home sales slump in Oct. as higher prices weigh on buyers

WASHINGTON (AP) - Fewer Americans bought homes in October, a sign that rising home values may be pushing more would-be buyers to the real estate market’s sidelines.

The National Association of Realtors said Monday that sales of existing homes fell 3.4 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.36 million.

The decline comes after strong growth in home-buying for much of 2015, bolstered by steady job gains and low mortgage rates. Home purchases have advanced 3.9 percent from a year ago.

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Markets fade after an early gain, finish with small losses

NEW YORK (AP) - Stocks gained ground early Monday as they came off their best week in 2015, but faded in the afternoon and sustained small losses for the day.

Technology stocks fell more than the rest of the market. Pfizer and Allergan slipped after announcing a deal to combine and create the world’s largest drug company. GameStop skidded after reporting weak results.

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Nestle confirms labor abuse among its Thai seafood suppliers

WASHINGTON (AP) - Impoverished migrant workers in Thailand are sold or lured by false promises and forced to catch and process fish that ends up in Nestle SA’s supply chains.

The unusual disclosure comes from Geneva-based Nestle SA itself, which in an act of self-policing planned to announce the conclusions of its yearlong internal investigation on Monday. The study found virtually all U.S. and European companies buying seafood from Thailand are exposed to the same risks of abuse in their supply chains.

Nestle, among the biggest food companies in the world, launched the investigation last year after reports from news outlets and non-governmental organizations tied brutal and largely unregulated working conditions to their foods.

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Ford stops using Takata air bag inflators in future vehicles

Ford Motor Co. will not be using air bag inflators made by Takata Corp. in future vehicles, another blow to the troubled Japanese parts supplier as the auto industry continues to shun its product.

Ford joins Honda, Toyota and Nissan is deciding against putting the inflators in cars, trucks and SUVs now under development.

Takata inflators can explode with too much force, sending shrapnel into drivers and passengers. At least eight people have been killed worldwide and hundreds injured. The inflators have led to the recall of 19.2 million vehicles in the U.S., and government regulators are investigating the possibility of millions more.

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Ford recalls 450K midsize cars for possible fuel leak

DETROIT (AP) - Ford is recalling nearly 452,000 midsize cars because the gas tanks potentially can leak fuel.

The recall covers certain 2010 to 2011 Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan sedans built in Mexico from July 21, 2008 through March 4, 2011.

Ford says a valve on a gasoline vapor recovery canister can get stuck, causing repeated air pressure changes in the gas tank. That can eventually cause a crack on top of the tank and a possible fuel leak. The company says it has no reports of fires or injuries from the problem.

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Volkswagen to have fix proposals in by month’s end

BERLIN (AP) - Volkswagen CEO Matthias Mueller says the company will have technical details on fixing cars fitted with emissions-rigging software to German regulators by month’s end, and most will not need major work.

According to a copy of a speech he gave to company managers at Volkswagen headquarters Monday, Mueller said the Federal Motor Transport Authority has signed off on a software update to fix affected 2-liter diesel motors, and has given the “basic go” to a fix for the 1.6-liter vehicles that will also involve replacing an air filter cartridge and grill. Details are being finalized on a software fix for 1.2-liter motors.

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Fed Chair Yellen defends Fed’s low-rate policies

WASHINGTON (AP) - Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen says while many savers have been frustrated by years of low interest rates, they were needed to boost the economy after the Great Recession.

In a letter to consumer advocate Ralph Nader, Yellen says the low rates helped create millions of jobs by lowering borrowing costs for businesses and consumers.

The Fed has indicated it may soon be ready to begin raising rates. Yellen reiterates that subsequent rate hikes will be gradual.

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French economy already hurting from attacks, survey finds

LONDON (AP) - The attacks in Paris that killed 130 people and wounded hundreds more are hurting the French economy at a time when the wider 19-country eurozone appears to be growing at the fastest pace in four and a half years, a survey showed Monday.

In a snapshot of business during November, financial information company Markit found that service providers said the terrorist attacks in Paris had “negatively impacted on activity.” Partly because of that, Markit said its purchasing managers’ index for France - a broad gauge of economic activity - fell to a 3-month low in November of 51.3 points from 52.6 the previous month.

The drop takes the French economy nearer the 50 point level, which is the threshold separating economic expansion and contraction.

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FDA approves Bristol-Myers drug for new use in kidney cancer

WASHINGTON (AP) - Federal health regulators have expanded approval of a cancer drug from Bristol-Myers Squibb to treat an advanced form of kidney cancer.

The Food and Drug Administration says the injectable-drug, Opdivo, is approved for patients with renal cell carcinoma who have previously tried certain other drugs. More than 14,000 U.S. patients are expected to die from kidney and pelvis cancer this year, according to the National Cancer Institute.

The FDA first approved Opdivo for melanoma last December.

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The Dow Jones industrial average fell 31.13 points, or 0.2 percent, to close at 17,792.68. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index declined 2.58 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,086.59. The Nasdaq composite index fell 2.44 points, or 0.1 percent, to 5,102.48.

Benchmark U.S. crude fell 15 cents, or 0.4 percent, to close at $41.75 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, rose 17 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $44.83 a barrel in London. Heating oil edged up 0.3 cents to $1.374 a gallon. Wholesale gasoline added 2.3 cents to $1.313 a gallon. Natural gas rose 6.5 cents, or 3 percent, to $2.21 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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