Among the stories Friday from The Associated Press:

Among the stories Friday from The Associated Press:

TOP STORIES:

JAPAN-ECONOMY Japan's central bank expands its asset purchases in a surprise move to shore up sagging growth in the world's No. 3 economy. The Bank of Japan said it would increase its purchases of government bonds and other assets by between 10 trillion yen and 20 trillion yen ($91 billion to $181 billion) to about 80 trillion yen ($725 billion) in total annually. By Elaine Kurtenbach. SENT: 680 words, photos, Q&A.

With:

FINANCIAL MARKETS Stocks in the U.S. and across the globe rise sharply after the Bank of Japan unexpectedly announced a new stimulus package to boost the country's struggling economy. SENT: 540 words, photo. UPCOMING: 700 words by 5 p.m.

CHEAP GASOLINE-THINGS TO KNOW

NEW YORK The national average price of gasoline is about to drop below $3.00 per gallon for the first time in nearly four years. Why and what does that mean? We have answers. There's lots of oil sloshing around in the world thanks to higher production in the U.S. and elsewhere, weaker economies aren't consuming it and cars are getting more efficient. It means a typical U.S. household will save $50 a month at these lower prices and it'll cost $23 less to drive from New York to Grandma's house in Ft. Myers for Christmas. By Jonathan Fahey. SENT: 650 words, photos, graphic, interactive.

With:

EARNS-EXXON ExxonMobil Corp. profits rise 3 percent in the third quarter as strong refining performance offset lower revenues from falling oil prices and production. SENT: 310 words, photo.

JAPAN-HELLO KITTY AT 40

TOKYO When she came to life in 1974, she was a kitty without a name, sitting sideways in blue overalls and a big red bow, on a coin purse for Japanese girls. On Saturday, fans around the world celebrate the 40th anniversary of this global icon of "cute-cool." That is, Hello Kitty. By Mari Yamaguchi. SENT: 800 words, photos.

WAL-MART-HOLIDAY

NEW YORK For the first time, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is offering free shipping on what it considers the season's top 100 hottest gifts, from board games to items related to Disney's hit film "Frozen" items, starting Saturday. The move comes as rival Target Corp. began offering free shipping on all items, a program that started late October and will last through Dec. 20. By Anne D'Innocenzio. SENT: 600 words.

MARKETS & ECONOMY:

CONSUMER SPENDING

WASHINGTON U.S. consumers cut spending in September for the first time in eight months, as incomes grew at the slowest pace this year. The figures underscore nagging economic soft spots that are expected to ease in the coming months. By Martin Crutsinger. SENT: 630 words, photo.

CONSUMER SENTIMENT

WASHINGTON U.S. consumers expect better economic growth and rising incomes in the coming months, pushing a measure of confidence to a seven-year high in October. By Christopher S. Rugaber. SENT: 130 words. UPCOMING: 350 words by 10:40 a.m.

INDUSTRY:

NISSAN-AIR BAG RECALL

DETROIT Nissan says it's recalling more than 1,800 Infiniti SUVs in the U.S. for an air bag problem that could send shrapnel into the passenger compartment. The recall covers some QX56 SUVs from 2013 and the QX80s from 2014. The company says inflators made by Takata Corp. were built with an incorrect outer baffle part. That can cause pressure to build up, and the inflators can rupture if driver's side air bags are deployed. By Tom Krisher. SENT: 530 words

GASOLINE PRICES The average price of gasoline in the U.S. hits $3 a gallon, and should soon drop below the benchmark for the first time since December 2010. SENT: 130 words.

GERMANY-DAIMLER-MV AUGUSTA Daimler says it is taking a 25-percent stake in Italian motorcycle maker MV Augusta for an undisclosed amount. SENT: 120 words.

SURGICAL GOWNS LAWSUIT A $500 million lawsuit against Kimberly-Clark Corp. alleges the company falsely claimed its surgical gowns protected against Ebola and other infectious diseases. SENT: 450 words.

OMEGA HEALTHCARE-AVIV ACQUISITION Omega Healthcare will buy rival real estate investment trust Aviv in a $3 billion all-stock deal combining two companies that each run hundreds of nursing homes. SENT: 190 words.

DRUGS FOR THE DEAD

WASHINGTON Call it drugs for the departed: Medicare's prescription program kept paying for costly medications even after patients were dead. The problem was traced back to a head-scratching bureaucratic rule that's now getting a second look. Medicare said it's working on a fix. By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar. SENT: 730 words, photo.

JAPAN-MISSING PLANE-LAWSUIT Two Malaysian children sue Malaysia Airlines and the government over the loss of their father on Flight 370, the first lawsuit filed in the country by relatives of those aboard the jetliner that mysteriously disappeared eight months ago. SENT: 500 words, photo.

BOEING PLANT-POLICE Police in Everett, Washington say they've searched a portion of a Boeing aircraft plant after two employees reported seeing what appeared to be an armed man, but officers found nothing to substantiate the reports. SENT: 150 words.

EARNINGS:

JAPAN-EARNS-SONY Sony's losses balloon to 136 billion yen ($1.2 billion) last quarter as the Japanese electronics and entertainment company's troubled mobile phone division reported huge red ink. SENT: 380 words, photos.

BELGIUM-EARNS-AB INBEV AB InBev SA, the brewer of Budweiser, Stella Artois and Corona, reports a 5.5-percent increase in earnings for the third quarter, as higher selling prices more than made up for volume declines in Europe and Asia. SENT: 140 words.

ABBVIE-FORECAST Drugmaker AbbVie surprises Wall Street with a third-quarter performance that turned out much better than expected and provided a new 2014 forecast that extends well beyond what analysts predict. SENT: 360 words.

BRITAIN-RBS Royal Bank of Scotland, which is majority-owned by the U.K. government, sets aside 400 million pounds ($639 million) to cover potential fines arising from international investigations into alleged manipulation of foreign currency trading. SENT: 140 words.

TECHNOLOGY & MEDIA:

HUNGARY-INTERNET TAX Following large-scale protests, Hungary's prime minister says the government would suspend a planned tax on Internet use and reconsider the matter next year. SENT: 340 words, photos.

DENMARK-HACKING A Danish court sentences the Swedish founder of file-sharing site The Pirate Bay to 3 years in prison after he was found guilty of hacking into a private company handling sensitive information for Danish authorities. SENT: 300 words.

INTERNATIONAL:

JAPAN-STOKING STOCKS

TOKYO Japan's $1.1 trillion public pension fund approves a plan to double its holdings of shares and cut back sharply on bonds to help improve investment returns and meet its obligations to a swelling number of retirees. The much-anticipated decision came just a few hours after a surprise announcement by the Bank of Japan that it will increase its annual asset purchases to as much as 80 trillion yen ($725 billion) to shore up faltering growth. By Elaine Kurtenbach. SENT: 900 words, photo.

EBOLA-NORTH KOREA QUARANTINE

BEIJING North Korea's quarantine of foreigners to prevent Ebola has not disrupted business with the nation's largest trading partner, Chinese businesspeople say, although a tourist ban has hurt travel agencies that run tours to the reclusive country. By Didi Tang. SENT: 470 words.

UKRAINE-RUSSIA GAS

MOSCOW Russia will resume shipping natural gas to Ukraine after Kiev pays off its first debt installment for past supplies of gas next week, officials say. By Vladimir Isachenkov. SENT: 620 words, photo.

EUROPE-ECONOMY Inflation creeps higher in the 18 countries that use the euro in October but the rise to an annual 0.4 percent offered little relief to the European Central Bank as it tries to boost a weak economy. SENT: 450 words.

RUSSIA-ECONOMY Russia's central bank raises its main interest rate by more than anticipated as it tries to stem the ruble's fall. SENT: 290 words.

BRITAIN-WORLD WAR I BONDS Britain is repaying some of the 2 billion pounds ($3.2 billion) it still owes investors who helped finance World War I. SENT: 140 words.