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NEW YORK — The price of a gallon of gasoline may soon start with a "2'' across much the country. The typical autumn decline in gasoline prices is getting a big push lower by falling oil prices, a result of lower global demand and the continuing rise in U.S. oil production. By the end of the year, up to 30 states could have an average gasoline price of under $3 a gallon. By Jonathan Fahey. SENT: 140 words, photos. UPCOMING: 500 words.


NEW YORK — Tech stocks are tumbling and Wall Street is stumbling. Shares of technology companies are leading a broad drop in U.S. stocks that could push the market to its worst day since July. A big downer is Apple, whose shares have dropped 3 percent in heavy trading following a string of software and iPhone problems. The Standard & Poor's 500 index is down 1.4 percent, while the Dow Jones industrial average has slid more than 200 points. The steep declines extend a bumpy week for stocks. Concerns about growth in China and falling U.S. home sales knocked the market back on Monday. Health care stocks led a big rebound Wednesday. If Thursday's declines hold, the S&P 500 will have its biggest one-day drop since July 31. By Matthew Craft. UPCOMING: 750 words by 5 p.m., photos.


— APPLE-SOFTWARE GLITCH — Apple's response to a high-profile gaffe involving its iPhone software may be more important than the glitch itself. In contrast with its response to earlier iPhone problems, analysts say the company is doing the right thing by quickly acknowledging and apologizing for a problem that left some iPhones unable to make calls. By Brandon Bailey. SENT: 550 words. UPCOMING: 700 words with new approach by 4 p.m., photos.


CIUDAD MIER, Mexico — Mexico overcame 75 years of nationalist pride to reform its flagging, state-owned oil industry. But as it prepares to develop rich shale fields along the Gulf Coast, and attract foreign investors, another challenge awaits: taming the brutal drug cartels that rule the region and are stealing billions of dollars' worth of oil from pipelines. By Mark Stevenson. SENT: 900 words, photos.


HAVANA — Call it "Eau de Revolution." Cuba's biggest producer of natural products has come up with a pair of colognes for the discerning supporter of international socialism: a woodsy and refreshing citric scent with notes of talcum powder called "Ernesto" honors guerrilla leader Ernesto "Che" Guevara. For those seeking something softer and fruitier, there's a blend with hints of mango and papaya called "Hugo," for the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. By Andrea Rodriguez. SENT: 650 words, photos.



WASHINGTON — The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment aid increases last week after falling sharply two weeks ago. Despite the rise, the level of applications remains near pre-recession levels, a sign hiring will remain healthy. By Christopher S. Rugaber. SENT: 370 words, photo, glance.


WASHINGTON — Business orders for long-lasting manufactured goods fall by a record amount in August, dragged lower by a plunge in demand for commercial aircraft. But orders in a key category that tracks business investment plans posted a gain. By Martin Crutsinger. SENT: 590 words, photo.


WASHINGTON — Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates decline slightly this week, after marking their largest one-week gain of the year the previous week. Mortgage company Freddie Mac says the nationwide average for a 30-year loan eased to 4.20 percent from 4.23 percent last week. By Marcy Gordon. SENT: 400 words, photo.



Valeant Pharmaceuticals is drawing attention to a potential glaucoma treatment and its focus on product development, as the Canadian drugmaker continues to build its case to investors for a takeover of Botox-maker Allergan. By Tom Murphy. SENT: 410 words.

— CIGARETTE LAWSUIT — The Illinois Supreme Court agrees to review a lower court's reinstatement of a decade-old $10.1 billion class-action verdict against Phillip Morris USA over the nation's biggest cigarette maker's marketing of "light" and "low tar" designations. SENT: 440 words.

— SIDE SHOW-PRODUCER — Clear Channel Spectacolor, an outdoor advertising giant with massive billboards and digital screens across Times Square, has taken the unprecedented step of helping produce a theatrical venture. SENT: 200 words, photo.

— BRITAIN-ROYAL BANK OF SCOTLAND — Philip Hampton, the chairman of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group, says he's leaving the company and joining the board of GlaxoSmithKline to become chairman in 2015. Hampton has been chairman since February 2009, shortly after the onset of the financial crisis. Britain bailed out RBS, which remains 81 percent taxpayer-owned. SENT: 130 words.

— LAWN MOWER-RECALL — Nearly 1,900 Country Clipper riding lawn mowers made by Shivvers Manufacturing are being recalled in the United States and Canada due to a fire risk. SENT: 160 words.

— SPAIN-MAPFRE-DIRECT LINE — Spanish insurance company Mapfre says it has bought the German and Italian units of Britain's Direct Line motor insurance group for 550 million euros ($705 million). SENT: 130 words.

— LAP-BAND LAWSUIT — UnitedHealth Group Inc. sues two brothers who ran a company that promoted Lap-Band weight-loss surgery, accusing the pair of defrauding the insurer of more than $40 million through a complex billing scheme. SENT: 150 words.

— HARVARD ENDOWMENT-CEO — Harvard University says Stephen Blyth will take over as president and CEO of Harvard Management Co., which oversees the school's $34.6 billion endowment. SENT: 140 words.


— SWEDEN-EARNS-H&M — Fashion retailer Hennes & Mauritz AB says it plans to expand its business over the coming year by increasing online sales and opening new stores, particularly in its largest markets, the U.S. and China. SENT: 320 words, photos.



PARIS — An 11-day strike by Air France's pilots over cost-cutting measures grounds more than half of the airline's flights, stranding passengers worldwide. The sides are nearing a deal to get flights going again. But a look at similar battles around Europe and the United States suggests that no matter who wins this labor dispute, the long-term prospects are dim for both the pilots and the airline in an industry that is overdue for an overhaul. By Greg Keller. SENT: 140 words, photos. UPCOMING: 400 words.


— GERMANY-LUFTHANSA — A union representing pilots at Germany's Lufthansa says talks aimed at resolving a dispute over early retirement benefits have broken down and that it is threatening further strikes. SENT: 140 words, photo.

— IRELAND-RYANAIR — Ryanair says it plans to carry an extra 1 million passengers this year and has raised its profits outlook on the back of wide-ranging service improvements that have boosted sales and filled more aircraft. SENT: 420 words, photo.

— FRANCE-NEW PLANE — Airbus sends its latest jet up for its first flight above the skies of southern France, amid high demand for the single-aisle A320neo and its promised fuel economy. SENT: 130 words, photo.



SEOUL, South Korea — Thousands of Hyundai Motor Co. workers are striking to protest the South Korean automaker's decision to spend $10 billion on land for a new headquarters while wage negotiations remain stalled. By Youkyung Lee. SENT: 390 words.

— FORD-VAN HIRING-MISSOURI — Ford Motor Co. says it's adding 1,200 workers and another shift to a Missouri plant that makes its new Transit van. The workers already have been hired and are expected to start work in late November at the plant just outside Kansas City. SENT: 320 words, photo.

— MALAYSIA-PROTON — Malaysia's national carmaker Proton launches its first small car, hoping to bolster its fortunes after ceding ground to foreign and domestic rivals. SENT: 440 words, photos.



NEW YORK — A security flaw known as the "Bash bug" may pose a serious threat to computers and other devices such as home Internet routers. Should you be worried? What can you do? What does this and the Heartbleed bug say about society's increasing vulnerably to such security flaws? A look at the latest threat in a question-and-answer format. By Barbara Ortutay and Michael Liedtke. SENT: 430 words. UPCOMING: 700 words by 4 p.m., photos.


WASHINGTON — The government plans to announce that it is granting permits to seven movie and television production companies to fly drones, an important step toward greater use of the technology by commercial operators, according to attorneys and a company official familiar with the decision. By Joan Lowy. SENT: 710 words, photos. UPCOMING: Announcement scheduled for 3:15 p.m., will be updated.

— ABU DHABI-SOLAR PLANE — A Swiss-made solar-powered aircraft is planned to start and finish its first round-the-world flight from the United Arab Emirates capital of Abu Dhabi, a government-backed renewable energy company in the oil-rich Gulf federation says. SENT: 400 words.

— HASBRO-DISCOVERY-HUB NETWORK — The Hub Network will become Discovery Family Channel next month and will include more family-oriented programs in the evenings while maintaining its children's content during the day. SENT: 240 words.

— NFL-BRITAIN-SKY — British broadcaster Sky Sports signs a new expanded five-year deal with the NFL to show more than 80 games per season from 2015. SENT: 100 words.



HONG KONG — As trouble brews in Hong Kong, who's Beijing going to call? The billionaires. With political tension in the southern Chinese financial hub at its highest in years, China's leaders summoned dozens of the city's tycoons earlier this week for talks. The rare trip by the large contingent of business leaders to meet President Xi Jinping in Beijing highlighted the unlikely role that Hong Kong's capitalists have played as longstanding supporters of China's communist rulers. By Kelvin Chan. SENT: 920 words, photo.

— SPAIN-ECONOMY — Spain's National Statistics Institute says money generated by drug trafficking, prostitution, smuggling and illegal gambling contributed some 9 billion euros ($11.4 billion) to the national economy last year. SENT: 150 words.

— INDIA-MANUFACTURING —Flanked by some of India's wealthiest businessmen, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launches a campaign to entice investment and promote the country as the world's next cheap labor economy. SENT: 500 words, photos.

— CHINA-SPAIN — China and Spain sign $4 billion of business deals as Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy visits the Asian powerhouse to seek support for Spain's struggling economy. SENT: 160 words.

— ASIA-ECONOMY — The Asian Development Bank trims its economic growth forecast for Southeast Asia this year and next due to slower domestic demand in some of its bigger economies. Its forecasts for China, the world's second largest economy, are unchanged. By Teresa Cerojano. SENT: 360 words.

— PORTUGAL-SUBWAY STRIKE — A strike has shut the Lisbon subway for the second time in a month and the 11th time in a year as militant trade unions continue to fight the government's public transport policy. SENT: 130 words.

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In shorter supply: stocks

Companies continue to keep the share counts of their stocks under control. Last quarter, 295 companies in the Standard & Poor's 500 index spent enough on buybacks to reduce the number of their available shares, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices. That's up from 223 companies a year earlier. UPCOMING: Graphic expected by 6 p.m.


Rumbling down the pipeline

Harley-Davidson stock has sputtered this year, but its new models are getting a roar of approval from dealers, who say they're excited about more coming down the pipeline. UPCOMING: Graphic expected by 6 p.m.