BC-Business News Digest

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Business News at 1:30 p.m.

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All times EST.

TOP STORIES:

FINICKY DINNER GUESTS

NEW YORK — At homes across the country this Thursday, tables will be set to accommodate everyone from vegans and vegetarians to those trying to eat like a caveman. The increasingly complicated feasts reflect the growing ranks of Americans who are paying closer attention to the food they put in their bodies. While the dietary quirks of relatives or friends may seem like a mere curiosity on Thanksgiving, they're reshaping the food industry. By Candice Choi. SENT: 875 words, photos.

AIRPORT CHAPLAINS

Ministers like the Rev. Frank Colladay, Jr., know there is usually only one chance to help a member of their flock. Colladay's parish is the world's busiest airport; his parishioners are travelers who might need comfort, spiritual advice, or someone to pray with. The 350 or so airport chaplain jobs around the world are highly sought after among the clergy, considered glamorous and unlike other church assignments. By Scott Mayerowitz. SENT: 1,190 words, photos, video.

BLUE LAWS-THANKSGIVING

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Retailers around the country will open their doors for sales on Thanksgiving Day, but not so in a handful of states that ban most stores from opening because of so-called "blue laws." Shoppers will have to wait to get their in-store holiday deals until midnight or later on Friday in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Maine. The laws give families and store workers a one-day reprieve from the craziness of holiday shopping, but some retailers fear they're giving up sales to online stores unaffected by the laws. By Michelle R. Smith. UPCOMING: 600 words, photos by 4 p.m.

Also:

— FASHION-SHOPPING FOR YOURSELF — A growing number of people are using Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales and retail events to treat themselves to a new little something. As a group, self-shoppers are growing, according to a consumer insight company, which puts number at 20 percent, up from 5 percent in the early 2000s. SENT: 850 words, photos.

THANKSGIVING-TRAVEL BY BUS

CHICAGO — Millions of Americans are hurtling along the nation's jumble of transportation arteries for Thanksgiving, and more of them are discovering that a bus is the cheapest, comfiest and coolest way to stay zen while completing the nation's largest annual human migration. After nearly half a century of decline, a new breed of sleek, wifi-equipped intercity coach is shattering the image of the bus as a travel option of last resort worthy of popular scorn. With free Internet connections, tickets as cheap as $1 and decent legroom, companies like Megabus and BoltBus are luring holiday travelers disenchanted with the hair-pulling rituals of airports and driving. By Jason Keyser. UPCOMING: 700 words by 2 p.m., photos.

WTO-TRADE DEAL

GENEVA —Negotiators fail to craft the first global trade deal in more than a decade, which could have given the world economy a $1 trillion boost. By John Heilprin. The head of the WTO said the failure to reach a deal leaves poorer countries worse off and hurts the credibility of the organization, which will only be viewed as a trade court and no longer as a forum for global trade talks. SENT: 450 words, photos.

MEN'S WEARHOUSE-JOS A BANK

NEW YORK — Just when it looked like a potential combination of Men's Wearhouse and Jos. A. Bank was dead in the water, the script has been flipped. Now it's Men's Wearhouse that is offering approximately $1.54 billion for its rival. Less than two weeks ago, Jos. A. Bank dropped a $2.3 billion bid for its competitor. A combination could create a menswear powerhouse of more than 1,700 stores. By Michelle Chapman. SENT: 640 words, photos.

PHILIPPINES-TYPHOON-COCONUTS AND CALL CENTERS

TANAUAN, Philippines — As Typhoon Haiyan tore across the eastern Philippines, coconut plantations older than the fathers of the men who tend them were smashed like matchsticks and call centers that field customer service gripes from around the world fell silent. The storm that killed thousands also wrecked livelihoods in the worst hit region, a blow that will ripple long after the disaster fades from attention. By Teresa Cerojano. SENT: 820 words, photos.

MARKETS & ECONOMY:

BANK EARNINGS

WASHINGTON — U.S. banks earned less in the July-September quarter than they did a year earlier, marking their first year-over-year profit decline since the spring of 2009 when the country was still mired in the Great Recession. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. says the decline came primarily from a $4 billion increase in litigation expenses at a single institution. The FDIC did not name the institution, but the JPMorgan Chase & Co. reached a $4.5 billion settlement with investors earlier this month. By Martin Crutsinger. SENT: 465 words.

HOME CONSTRUCTION

WASHINGTON —U.S. homebuilders planned to build apartments in October at the fastest pace in five years, a sign they expect a jump in rentals in coming months. By Josh Boak. SENT: 610 words, photo.

HOME PRICES

WASHINGTON — U.S. home prices rose more slowly in September than in August, a sign that weaker sales are preventing the kinds of sharp price gains that occurred earlier this year. By Christopher S. Rugaber. SENT: 490 words, photos.

CONSUMER CONFIDENCE

WASHINGTON — U.S. consumers' confidence in the economy fell in November to the lowest level in seven months, dragged down by greater concerns about hiring and pay in the coming months. The Conference Board says its index of consumer confidence dropped to 70.4 from 72.4 in October. The October reading was higher than initially reported, but still well below the 80.2 reading in September. SENT: 360 words.

WALL STREET

NEW YORK — Stocks are edging higher following a strong earnings report from luxury retailer Tiffany & Co. and new data showing that homebuilders remain optimistic about the future. SENT: 375 words, photos. UPCOMING: 700 words by 5 p.m.

— OIL PRICES — The price of oil drifts slightly above $94 ahead of a U.S. supply report that is expected to show an improvement in demand. SENT: 390 words. UPCOMING: 450 words by 3:30 p.m.

EARNINGS:

— EARNS-TIFFANY— Tiffany & Co.'s third-quarter net income climbs 50 percent, buoyed by strong sales in the Asia-Pacific region. SENT: 390 words, photo.

— EARNS-BARNES & NOBLE — Barnes & Noble reports a profit in the second quarter as it invested less in its Nook e-book reader and cost cuts offset lower sales. SENT: 350 words, photo.

— EARNS-HEWLETT PACKARD — Hewlett Packard reports earnings after U.S. stock markets close. UPCOMING: xxx words by xx p.m.

INDUSTRY:

SMALLBIZ-SMALL TALK

NEW YORK — Pop-up shops that sell a variety of items from clothes to gifts have been dotting the holiday retail landscape for many years. Initially, they were intended mostly as a way for retailers to get some extra selling space and bring in more revenue. Increasingly, they are becoming a tool for market research with smaller retailers testing new merchandise and designers and small manufacturers using them to decide whether they should consider opening a physical store. By Joyce M. Rosenberg. UPCOMING: 750 words, photos by 2 p.m.

— WEATHERFORD-SEC SETTLEMENT — Oilfield services company Weatherford International has agreed to pay more than $250 million to settle federal charges that it bribed officials in the Middle East and Africa to win business. SENT: 370 words.

— HOLIDAY TOY SAFETY — Toy recalls for excessive lead and other hazards are down this year, but consumer advocates warn that potential dangers to children remain on store shelves. SENT: 310 words.

GREAT LAKES-NUCLEAR WASTE

KINCARDINE, Ontario — Ordinarily, a proposal to bury radioactive waste in a scenic area that relies on tourism would inspire "not in my backyard" protests from local residents — and relief in places that were spared. But conventional wisdom has been turned on its head in the Canadian province of Ontario, where a publicly owned power company wants to entomb waste from its nuclear plants 2,230 feet below the surface and less than a mile from Lake Huron. By John Flesher. SENT: 1,030 words, photos.

SPAIN-ARGENTINA-REPSOL

MADRID — Spanish energy company Repsol would get $5 billion in compensation from Argentina for the expropriation last year of the firm's YPF unit and its vast holdings of unconventional oil and gas fields, a person with direct knowledge of the preliminary deal says. By Alan Clendenning. SENT: 400 words.

AUTOS:

— SKOREA-HYUNDAI-GENESIS — Hyundai has revamped the luxury Genesis sedan for the first time since 2008, attempting to elevate its brand and grab a bigger share of U.S. car sales as competition from American and European automakers erodes Hyundai's dominance in its South Korean stronghold. SENT: 700 words, photos.

— FORD-ESCAPE RECALLS — Ford is recalling the Escape small SUV to fix oil and fuel leaks that can cause fires. The first of two recalls announced Tuesday affects more than 161,000 Escapes worldwide from the 2013 model year with 1.6-liter four-cylinder engines. SENT: 330 words.

HEALTH CARE:

— SUPREME COURT-BIRTH CONTROL — The Supreme Court will referee another dispute over President Barack Obama's health care law, whether businesses can use religious objections to escape a requirement to cover birth control for employees. The justices will take up the issue, which has divided the lower courts in the face of roughly 40 lawsuits from for-profit companies. SENT: 925 words, photos.

— GERMANY-BAYER-ALGETA — Norway-based cancer drug maker Algeta ASA says it has received a preliminary takeover offer from Germany's Bayer AG that values the company at about $2.4 billion. SENT: 120 words.

— FRANCE-CONTRACEPTIVE — A French contraceptive maker says its morning-after pill doesn't work when taken by women who weigh more than 176 pounds and plans to change its labels to warn patients. SENT: 725 words.

— EU-THERMO FISHER — European regulators approve scientific instrument maker Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc.'s $13.6 billion acquisition of Life Technologies Corp., on the condition that they divest parts of their businesses. SENT: 140 words.

TECHNOLOGY & MEDIA:

— GOOGLE-MOTOROLA CHEAPER PHONE — Motorola will start selling a cheap smartphone in the U.S. more than a month ahead of schedule. The company says it was able to produce the Moto G phones faster than expected. The U.S. launch was initially planned for January. But it is going on sale Tuesday. SENT: 370 words.

DIGITAL LIFE-TECH TEST-CONSOLES GIFT GUIDE

New game consoles from Sony and Microsoft both bring cutting-edge computer graphics to your living room and come with plenty of games to choose from. Both hold the promise of delivering state-of-the-art entertainment for years. So which should you buy? By Lou Kesten. SENT: 830 words, photos.

DIGITAL LIFE-TECH TEST-GAMES GIFT GUIDE

A video game store can be daunting if you don't know what you're looking for. It's not easy to tell the winners from the losers. So when you head to the mall, take this list of some of the best games of 2013. Any gamer on your holiday shopping list will be thrilled to see one of them under the tree. By Lou Kesten. UPCOMING: 850 words by noon, photos.

— GERMANY-AMAZON — German antitrust regulators say they've shelved a case against Amazon.com Inc. after the American online retailer agreed to lift a regulation prohibiting third-party traders from selling their products cheaper elsewhere. SENT: 150 words.

INTERNATIONAL:

ROMANIA-CHINA-SUMMIT

BUCHAREST, Romania — China wants to do business in Eastern Europe, the prime minister says, as he and 300 company executives prepared to meet the region's political leaders. SENT 360 words, photos. SENT: 635 words, photos.

— CHINA-FRANCE-YUAN — France's finance minister pushes Paris as a European hub for trading of China's currency at the first high-level economic and financial dialogue between the two countries. The yuan is not freely convertible with most other currencies due to China's capital controls but Beijing is gradually loosening its grip, creating opportunities for the currency to become more widely used for trade and investment outside of China. SENT: 240 words, photos.

— PORTUGAL-FINANCIAL-CRISIS — Portugal faces more austerity next year after Parliament approved the government's tough 2014 budget in the face of widespread opposition. SENT: 570 words, photo.

— GREECE-FINANCIAL CRISIS — Greece's prime minister wants to quickly wrap up talks with bailout creditors on possible new austerity measures so his country can focus on the rotating European Union presidency, which it assumes on Jan. 1. SENT: 150 words, photos.

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MONEY & MARKETS:

CENTERPIECE

Hedge fund favorites

Facebook has become one the top 10 favorite stocks of hedge fund managers. In the third quarter, Facebook broke into the top 10 stocks that appear most frequently among the largest holdings of hedge funds. In a survey by Goldman Sachs, the social network ranked sixth, after not placing in the top 50 stocks in Goldman's second-quarter survey. UPCOMING: Graphic expected by 6 p.m.

COMPANY SPOTLIGHT

Bullish on Burger King

Goldman Sachs initiated coverage of Burger King Monday with a "Buy" rating, saying that the hamburger chain is in the "Fountain of Youth" stage of its life cycle. The analysts cited the potential for accelerated international expansion, particularly in emerging markets. . UPCOMING: Graphic expected by 6 p.m.