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Walgreens, Rite Aid combo to spread drugstore health kick

Walgreens will use its $9.41 billion takeover of rival Rite Aid to spread its philosophy on making drugstores destinations for customers looking to stay healthy or buy beauty products.

The nation's largest drugstore chain also is expected to flex its beefed-up negotiating muscle to wring better deals from drugmakers and other suppliers. But experts say those discounts won't automatically trickle down to consumers.

In fact, customers may not see a huge impact on their wallets if the deal announced Tuesday evening goes through. But they will likely see some store closures or name changes and fewer brand choices after Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. adds the nation's third-largest drugstore chain to its portfolio.

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Fed keeps rate at record low but will consider December hike

WASHINGTON (AP) The Federal Reserve is keeping its key short-term interest rate at a record low in the face of a weak global economy, slower U.S. hiring and subpar inflation. But it signaled the possibility of a rate hike in December.

A statement the Fed issued Wednesday said it would monitor the pace of job growth and inflation to try to determine "whether it will be appropriate to raise the target range" for its benchmark rate at its next meeting.

It marked the first time in seven years of record-low rates that the central bank has raised the possibility that it could raise its key rate from near zero at its next meeting.

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Drug prices top Americans' list of health care concerns

WASHINGTON (AP) Americans from across the political spectrum are worried about the cost of prescription drugs for serious diseases, following weeks of news coverage about companies hiking prices for critical medicines.

Keeping drugs for cancer, hepatitis, HIV and other conditions affordable is the top health priority for Democrats, Republicans and independents, according to a poll released Wednesday by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation. Overall, 77 percent of those surveyed said the issue was their No. 1 health concern, reflecting recent outrage over drug pricing that has spilled over into the presidential campaign.

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US economy likely crawled last quarter but outlook brightens

WASHINGTON (AP) The U.S. economy has resembled an especially dizzying roller-coaster ride this year, with a hurtling dive followed by a steep climb leading to yet another slide.

On Thursday, when the government issues its first of three estimates of growth in the July-September quarter, it's expected to show an economy slumping from global weakness and reduced corporate stockpiling but poised to rise again.

Economists' consensus forecast, according to FactSet, is that the economy eked out just a 1.7 percent annual growth rate last quarter, a subpar pace by any standard.

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Volkswagen suffers loss due to scandal but sales hold up

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) Volkswagen lost 1.67 billion euros ($1.83 billion) in the third quarter as it set aside 6.7 billion euros to pay for recalling and fixing cars that were rigged to evade U.S. diesel emissions tests.

While the German carmaker warned Wednesday that operating profit this year would be "down significantly," it indicated that sales would prove resilient.

The company stuck to its prediction that unit sales would be on a level with last year's record 10.14 million.

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After a wobble, stocks end higher as investors watch the Fed

NEW YORK (AP) The stock market ended solidly higher Wednesday, recovering from an afternoon wobble, after the Federal Reserve indicated that it will consider raising its benchmark interest rate at its December meeting. Bond yields rose and the dollar climbed against other currencies as traders anticipated that higher rates were on the way.

Federal Reserve policymakers decided to leave interest rates unchanged after a two-day meeting, but they also said they would consider raising rates at the last meeting of 2015 if the economy keeps improving.

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Drugmaker Amgen posts big increases in 3Q profit, sales

Amgen trounced Wall Street expectations with a 50 percent jump in third-quarter profit, due to lower expenses and higher sales for nearly all the biologic drugmakers' medicines.

A day after receiving an impressive fourth drug approval in the past year, the maker of injected osteoporosis treatment Prolia on Wednesday raised its 2015 profit forecast and issued an even higher one for 2016.

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AB InBev, SABMiller extend talks on mega-merger

LONDON (AP) Budweiser maker Anheuser Busch InBev's $106 billion bid for SABMiller has been delayed as the world's two biggest brewers iron out details of the complex deal that ultimately needs the approval of regulators stretching from the United States to South Africa.

The U.K.'s Takeover Panel on Wednesday granted a one-week extension of the deadline for AB InBev to make a formal offer, delaying it until Nov. 4.

The companies said Wednesday that AB InBev had confirmed the financial terms of the agreement in principle announced Oct. 13, as well as arrangements to finance the cash portion of the offer. London-based SABMiller requested the extension so talks on "other aspects of the transaction" could continue.

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Snyder's-Lance buying Diamond Foods in $1.27B deal

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Snyder's-Lance is buying Diamond Foods in a cash-and-stock deal valued at about $1.27 billion, adding to its roster of healthier snacks.

Diamond owns Emerald snack nuts and Diamond of California culinary nuts, as well as Kettle Brand potato chips, Pop Secret popcorn. Snyder's-Lance owns Snyder's of Hanover and Cape Cod.

Shareholders of Diamond Foods Inc. will receive 0.775 Snyder's-Lance shares and $12.50 in cash per share. The transaction also includes approximately $640 million in debt. Diamond Foods stockholders will own about 26 percent of the combined company once the transaction closes.

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Ford recalls 129,000 SUVs to fix fuel leaks

DETROIT (AP) Ford is recalling 129,000 midsize SUVs in parts of the U.S. and Canada to fix potential fuel leaks.

The company says the recall covers the 2009 and 2010 Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX.

In places where salt is used to clear the roads of snow, the fuel tanks can rust under the reinforcement brackets that hold them to the SUVs. This can cause a fuel leak or activate the check engine light. A leak could cause a fire.

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Mini recalls 86,000 cars to fix power steering problems

DETROIT (AP) Under pressure from U.S. safety regulators, BMW's Mini brand is recalling more than 86,000 cars because the power steering could fail.

The recall covers the Mini Cooper and Cooper S models from 2002 to 2005. BMW says in documents filed with regulators that the power steering can fail because of manufacturing or other issues. If that happens, manual steering remains but it would take greater effort to steer.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began investigating the cars in 2010 after getting 339 complaints including five minor crashes and three fires involving melted wires.

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 198.09 points, or 1.1 percent, to 17,799.52. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 24.46 points, or 1.2 percent, to 2,090.35. The Nasdaq Composite index added 65.55 points, or 1.3 percent, to 5,095.69.

U.S. crude climbed $2.74 to $45.94 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, rose $2.24, or 4.8 percent, to $49.05 a barrel in London. In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline rose 6.3 cents to close at $1.350 a gallon in New York, heating oil rose 6 cents to $1.484 a gallon and natural gas fell 5.90 cents to $2.033 per 1,000 cubic feet.