Here's why Americans are getting new credit and debit cards

NEW YORK (AP) The battle against credit card fraud is inching forward.

As of Thursday, the liability for fraud committed using traditional MasterCard and Visa magnetic-stripe credit and debit cards will shift from banks to stores. The move is part of a drive by the banks and payment companies to get people to use the new, more secure cards embedded with computer chips.

Roughly half of all global credit card fraud occurs in the U.S. even though the country makes up only about a quarter of all credit card transactions, according to a report by Barclays earlier this month.


China sends Europe coveted new exports: Jobs, investment

LISBON, Portugal (AP) When two Chinese companies appeared among the bidders to buy a troubled Portuguese bank this year, its staff took heart.

The reason? They believed the potential buyers would do what Chinese investors are increasingly doing in Europe: save badly needed jobs and invest in expanding the business.

Flush with cash, Chinese buyers are shopping for foreign brands and technology to improve their competitive edge and propel their global expansion. Unlike Western buyers that might cut staff or close operations that duplicate their own, Chinese companies have an incentive to hang onto experienced foreign employees and expand.


Town that Volkswagen built from scratch girds for trouble

WOLFSBURG, Germany (AP) Wolfsburg is the town that Volkswagen built literally put on the map in 1938 by the Nazis in pursuit of their dream of a "People's Car."

The town rode the company's postwar boom to financial wealth and today the two are inseparable. There's a top league soccer club that wears the VW logo and plays in the Volkswagen arena; Volkswagen's headquarters and manufacturing plant take up much of its real estate. There's a Volkswagen bank, a Volkswagen real estate dealer, and even a Volkswagen sausage factory.

So when it was revealed this month that the automaker had cheated on U.S. emissions tests, causing its shares to plummet, the mood here darkened.


Fast and easy loans come at price for small businesses

NEW YORK (AP) It sounded like a sweet deal: A loan broker walked into Southern Girl Desserts offering the Los Angeles bakery a $40,000 loan that could be deposited in a bank account quickly. Already rejected for a loan from a bank, co-owner Catarah Hampshire took the offer and hired more workers to whip up peach cobblers and sweet potato cupcakes.

Then the daily phone calls from brokers began. Hampshire was persuaded to take out a second loan. Later she took out a third, and then three more. In less than two years, Southern Girl Desserts took out six loans and was in a financial mess that made it difficult to buy ingredients and pay employees.

Southern Girl Desserts borrowed from companies that make short-term loans or give cash advances to small businesses that are typically structured to be paid back in under a year. Automatic payments are taken out daily or weekly, either from a bank account or from a company's credit card transactions. Annual percentage rates can be as high as 50 percent or more, far above the APRs of traditional small business loans backed by the Small Business Administration. Those currently have APRs below 10 percent.

A growing chorus of critics say short-term loans are bad for small businesses because APRs aren't revealed, they are expensive and they can lead businesses into a dangerous cycle of borrowing over and over again to keep up with payments.


Bernanke, in new memoir, recalls Lehman's 'surreal' failure

WASHINGTON (AP) Ben Bernanke recalls the September weekend in 2008 when regulators sought desperately but in vain to save the investment bank Lehman Brothers as a "terrible, surreal moment."

"We were staring into the abyss," the former Federal Reserve chairman writes of the tense negotiations, led by Timothy Geithner, then head of the New York Fed, and Henry Paulson, then Treasury secretary.

Regulators hoped to find a buyer for Lehman and avert what would become the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history, which ignited the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

A "blur" is how Bernanke describes the events.

Bernanke recalls the episode in a memoir, "The Courage to Act: A Memoir of a Crisis and Its Aftermath," scheduled to be published Monday. The Associated Press obtained and bought an early copy.


Experian says info from 15 million potential T-Mobile customers hacked

Credit reporting agency Experian said Thursday that hackers accessed the social security numbers, birthdates and other personal information belonging to about 15 million potential T-Mobile wireless customers.

T-Mobile uses Experian to check the credit of its customers.

Experian said consumers who applied for T-Mobile wireless service between Sept. 1, 2013 and Sept. 16, 2015 may have had their information stolen.


As oil wealth dwindles, Saudi Arabia faces change

JIDDAH, Saudi Arabia (AP) At a gas station in Saudi Arabia's second largest city of Jiddah, drivers are fueling up their cars at just 45 cents a gallon four times less than the price of water.

To make that possible, the kingdom spends up to $10.7 billion per year on gasoline subsidies. It also offers a range of perks and welfare support to its citizens such as free health care and education, including thousands of scholarships to expensive Western universities.

Such largesse, however, is likely to be rolled back as the world's largest oil exporter looks to curb spending for the first time in years due to a plunge in the price of crude, which accounts for 90 percent of government revenue.


Applications for US jobless aid rise, but remain near lows

WASHINGTON (AP) Applications for unemployment benefits rose last week, but Americans are seeking jobless aid at historically low levels consistent with a healthy job market.

The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly applications for jobless aid rose 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 277,000. The four-week average, a less volatile figure, declined to 270,750.

Applications are a proxy for layoffs. The low level of applications indicates that companies trust that the U.S. economy will continue to expand and will possibly boost hiring. The report indicates that employers have yet to be frightened off by the slowdown in China's economy and fierce sell-offs in the U.S. stock market.


US manufacturing barely expands as global economy slows

WASHINGTON (AP) U.S. manufacturers expanded at their slowest pace in two years last month, held back by faltering global growth and cutbacks in oil and gas drilling.

The Institute for Supply Management said Thursday that its index of factory activity fell sharply to 50.2 in September from 51.1 in August. That is the lowest level since May 2013. Any reading above 50 indicates expansion.

New orders and production both fell sharply and a measure of hiring also declined, according to the ISM, a trade group of purchasing managers. All three measures still barely remained in expansion territory.


Average US rate on 30-year mortgages eases to 3.85 percent

WASHINGTON (AP) Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates eased slightly this week, continuing at low levels that could entice potential homebuyers.

Mortgage giant Freddie Mac said Thursday the average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage declined to 3.85 percent from 3.86 percent a week earlier. The rate on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages ticked down to 3.07 percent from 3.08 percent.

Rates have stayed below 4 percent for 10 straight weeks.


By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 12.69 points, or 0.1 percent, to 16,272.01. The Standard & Poor's 500 index added 3.79 points, or 0.2 percent, to close at 1,923.82. The Nasdaq composite gained 6.92 points, or 0.2 percent, to 4,627.08.

The price of crude oil fell 35 cents to close at $44.74 a barrel in New York. Brent Crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, fell 68 cents to close at $47.69 in London.

Wholesale gasoline remained unchanged at $1.367 a gallon. Heating oil fell 1.7 cents to close at $1.520 a gallon. Natural gas fell 9.1 cents to close at $2.433 per 1,000 cubic feet, its lowest level since the summer of 2012, on high supplies.