Business Highlights

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

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Wal-Mart CEO steps down; McMillon is successor

BENTONVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is ushering in a changing of the guard as the world's largest retailer confronts slower growth and challenges to its reputation.

Doug McMillon, head of Wal-Mart's international division, will succeed CEO and President Mike Duke when he steps down on Feb 1 after five years in those roles. McMillon will become the fifth CEO since Wal-Mart's founder Sam Walton.

The change is indicative of a recent shift in strategy at the company best known for its cutthroat pricing and big box stores. McMillon, 47, is expected to infuse a youthful spirit into Wal-Mart's culture as it tries to attract a generation of shoppers who gravitate toward tablets and mobile devices.

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Iran nuke deal could push oil prices lower

NEW YORK (AP) — Oil prices could be headed lower after the preliminary nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers, even though it does not allow Iran to export more oil.

In the short term, the deal may make it easier for Iran to sell the oil it is already allowed to sell under the sanctions, which would increase supplies on the world market. And the newfound cooperation between Iran and the West eases tensions that pushed oil prices higher in recent years.

But the deal, described by both sides as only a first step, raises the possibility that a more comprehensive agreement would eventually allow Iran to restore oil production to pre-sanctions levels. That could add 1 million barrels per day of oil to world markets — enough to meet the entire global growth in demand for 2014 projected by the International Energy Agency.

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Travelers cast wary eye as storm moves eastward

DALLAS (AP) — A winter storm system blamed for at least 10 fatal accidents in the West and Texas threatens to dampen the Thanksgiving holiday for millions of Americans traveling this week.

Nearly 300 American Airlines and American Eagle flights were canceled in and out of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport on Monday due to the weather, mirroring disruptions at the air hub a day earlier. Some of the country's busiest airports — New York, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Boston and Charlotte, N.C. — could see big delays. And icy roads led to hundreds of accidents and at least 10 deaths, half of them in Texas.

On Monday, the storm brought a mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain to parts of Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, southern Kansas and Texas. But as the storm continues east, there are fears of heavy rain along the busy I-95 corridor and sleet, freezing rain and snow away from the coast and at higher elevations.

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Dubai world Expo bid stirs worry of second bubble

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Dubai's rulers say the city of 2.2 million people is a perfect fit to host the World's Fair in 2020 and are pushing it at every opportunity. Logos for its bid to host the event are plastered on mountaintops, police cars and more. Countdowns to Wednesday's decision of who will host the exhibition also appear on one of Dubai's main highways.

Dubai's rulers say their futuristic city of skyscrapers is ideal to host the event. But their well-oiled public-relations campaign belies a worry among many in the United Arab Emirates city that increased building and real-estate speculation driven by the event could put it on the cusp of another financial crisis.

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Fit chic: Gym clothes became fashionable

NEW YORK (AP) — So long, dingy sweatpants. Workout clothes for women, once relegated to the back of the closet, are moving to the front of the fashion scene.

Yoga pants are the new jeans, neon sports bras have become the "it" accessory and long athletic socks are hipper than high heels.

Blame it on the push by many Americans toward a more active lifestyle. Or call it an extension of the nation's fascination with fashion. Either way, these days jogging suits are just as likely to be seen on a runway in New York as a treadmill in Texas.

In fact, sales of workout gear are growing faster than sales of everyday clothing — by a lot. Spending on workout clothes jumped 7 percent to $31.6 billion during the 12-month period that ended in August from the same period a year ago. That compares with a 1 percent rise in spending for other clothing to about $169.2 billion.

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Contracts to buy US homes fall for 5th month

WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of Americans who signed contracts to buy homes fell in October for the fifth straight month. Higher mortgage rates, price increases and the 16-day partial government shutdown held back sales.

The National Association of Realtors said Monday that its seasonally adjusted pending home sales index dipped 0.6 percent to 102.1. That's the lowest level since December. September's reading was revised slightly higher to 102.7.

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Fiat says no Chrysler IPO in 2013

FLORENCE, Italy (AP) — Chrysler won't be offering its stock for sale on the public markets this year.

Italian automaker Fiat SpA, Chrysler's majority owner, said in a statement Monday that Chrysler's board has determined an initial public offering is not practicable in 2013. Instead, Chrysler Group LLC will continue work on the offering so it can happen in the first quarter of next year.

Fiat owns 58.5 percent of Chrysler's shares, with the remaining 41.5 percent held by a United Auto Workers union trust fund that pays health care bills for blue-collar retirees.

But Sergio Marchionne, CEO of both automakers, has been squabbling with the trust over the price, and so far they haven't been able to reach agreement. The IPO would consist of shares currently held by the trust.

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average rose eight points, or 0.1 percent, to close at 16,072.54 Monday. The Standard & Poor's 500 index eased e points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,802.48. The Nasdaq rose 2.92 points to 3,994.57.

Benchmark U.S. crude for January delivery fell 75 cents to close at $94.09 in New York. Wholesale gasoline fell 3.75 cents to $2.67 gallon. Heating oil fell less than a penny to $3.03 a gallon. Natural gas rose 3.1 cents $3.84 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Brent crude, a benchmark for international oil used by many U.S. refineries, slipped half a cent to $111 a barrel in London.