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Root of investor anxiety: Uncertainty about China and Fed

Fears about China's slowdown and a coming U.S. interest rate hike have sent global stock markets into a fidgety freefall.

But why? China's economy has been slowing for years. And the Federal Reserve has long been expected to raise short-term interest rates from near zero, where it's kept them since 2008. So what's sowing panic now?

In a word: Uncertainty.

Investors have grown used to near-zero rates and a booming Chinese economy the world's second-largest after the United States. No one knows how the global economy will manage without them.

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Volkswagen: 'Nothing has changed' at Tennessee plant despite scandal

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) Inside Volkswagen's only U.S. assembly plant there's little hint of the diesel emissions cheating scandal embroiling the German automaker around the world. Sparks fly off robotic welding arms, new versions of the Passat sedan roll off the line and workers install equipment to build a new SUV billed as a key to reviving the company's growth prospects in America.

But despite the business-as-usual feel of the plant, production of diesel-engine vehicles has been put on hold by VW until they get more clarity on the consequences of the emissions scandal, which has already led to the CEO's resignation, cost the company billions of dollars in lost stock value and unleashed a flood of lawsuits.

The carmaker has admitted that 11 million of its diesel vehicles worldwide were fitted with a program that duped U.S. testers into believing the vehicles meet environmental standards.

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No shutdown: Congress approves bill to keep government open

WASHINGTON (AP) Just hours before a midnight deadline, a bitterly divided Congress approved a stopgap spending bill Wednesday to keep the federal government open but with no assurance there won't be yet another shutdown showdown in December.

Democrats helped beleaguered House Republican leaders pass the measure by 277-151 a lopsided vote shrouding deep disagreements within the GOP after the Senate approved it by a 78-20 tally earlier in the day. The votes sent the bill to President Barack Obama for his signature.

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States competing for data centers extend $1.5 billion in tax breaks

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) The former limestone mine seemed perfect for a large computer data center. The air was cool. The rock walls provided a defense against natural disasters. And the tunnels bored into a Kansas City hillside had access to abundant electricity and fiber-optic cables.

But the mine lacked something important: tax breaks. Without them, several companies chose instead to locate their data centers in neighboring Kansas. At least one major project opted for North Carolina.

Similar competitions for business are playing out across the country as states increasingly offer lucrative tax breaks to attract the data centers that function as the brains of the Internet. An Associated Press analysis of state revenue and economic-development records shows that government officials extended nearly $1.5 billion in tax incentives to hundreds of data-center projects nationwide during the past decade.

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40 percent of millennials pay for print, online news

NEW YORK (AP) In a world flush with free information, some young people are still willing to shell out for news they read.

A recent poll shows that 40 percent of U.S. adults ages 18-34 pay for at least some of the news they read, whether it's a print newspaper, a digital news app or an email newsletter. Another 13 percent don't pay themselves but rely on someone else's subscription, according to the survey by Media Insight Project, a collaboration of the American Press Institute and the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Older millennials are more likely than younger ones to personally pay for news.

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IMF chief says global economy likely to be weaker this year

WASHINGTON (AP) The head of the International Monetary Fund said Wednesday that global growth will likely be weaker this year as the world economy confronts a host of problems, including a refugee crisis in Europe, an economic slowdown in China and a pending rise in U.S. interest rates.

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde predicted a moderate rebound in growth in advanced economies such as the United States, Europe and Japan. But emerging economies will experience a fifth consecutive year of slowing activity, she said.

Lagarde said potential growth is being held back by low productivity, aging populations and lingering problems from the 2008 financial crisis such as high debt levels. She said it will be critical to properly manage the transition in China to consumer-led growth and the pending move by the Federal Reserve to higher interest rates.

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Survey: US businesses added jobs in September at solid pace

WASHINGTON (AP) Buoyed by strong consumer spending and steady home sales, U.S. businesses added jobs at a healthy pace in September, according to a private survey.

Payroll processor ADP said Thursday that employers added 200,000 jobs this month, up from 180,000 in the previous month. August's job total was revised lower.

Americans are spending more freely and buying big-ticket items such as new cars and homes. That is countering weak economies overseas and the strong dollar, which are cutting into exports.

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Whole Foods to stop selling products made by inmates

NEW YORK (AP) Whole Foods will stop selling products made using a prison labor program after a protest at one of its stores in Texas.

The company said the products should be out of its stores by April 2016, if not sooner. Whole Foods said it has sold tilapia, trout and goat cheese produced through a Colorado inmate program at some stores since at least 2011.

Michael Silverman, a Whole Foods spokesman, said the company had sourced the products because the program was a way to help people get back on their feet. But he said the company decided to end the practice because some customers were uncomfortable with it.

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Target to match online prices with online rivals

NEW YORK (AP) Starting Thursday, Target will now match its online prices with more than two dozen online competitors including Amazon.com and Walmart.com.

The change in policy marks a big step for the Minneapolis-based retailer, which until now only matched prices at its own stores. Target is also allowing 14 days, up from seven, for shoppers to get a price adjustment. And the retailer is increasing the number of online rivals that it will match from five to 29. That includes for the first time stores that require membership, like Costco and Sam's Club.

The latest move underscores how Target aims to rev up its e-commerce business, which increased by 30 percent in the latest quarter. It also wants to win market share from rivals, a key part of its strategy under its CEO Brian Cornell, who took the helm in August, 2014.

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New TiVo DVR will skip through entire commercial break

NEW YORK (AP) TiVo wants to help you skip TV commercials.

With one press of a button on the remote, TiVo's new digital video recorder will skip the entire commercial break. That's quicker than the 30-second forward feature found on previous TiVos. On the new TiVo Bolt, TiVo will tag the start and end of commercial breaks so that viewers can skip that section when watching on their recordings. The feature will work with about 20 over-the-air and cable channels, including the major broadcast networks, mostly during prime-time hours.

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 235.57 points, or 1.5 percent, to 16,284.70. The Standard & Poor's 500 index jumped 35.94 points, or 1.9 percent, to 1,920.03. The Nasdaq composite climbed 102.84 points, or 2.3 percent, to 4,620.16.

The price of oil fell slightly as total U.S. crude inventories rose. U.S. crude fell 14 cents to close at $45.09 a barrel in New York. Brent Crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, rose 14 cents to close at $48.37 a barrel in London.

Wholesale gasoline rose 2.6 cents to close at $1.389 a gallon. Heating oil rose 1.5 cents to close at $1.513 a gallon. Natural gas fell 6.2 cents to close at $2.524 per 1,000 cubic feet.