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NEW YORK — Fear is spreading in the stock market. Stocks plunge at the open and extend a month-long slide spurred by worries of a slowdown in Europe. Until late September, the market had moved higher for most of the year as U.S. earnings kept up record growth and the economy strengthened. In recent weeks, though, investors have grown fearful that another recession in Europe could drag down the U.S., and they've sold off stocks. Wednesday's U.S. decline is led by companies sensitive to the strength of the economy: banks and technology. By Ken Sweet and Alex Veiga. SENT: 800 words, photo. UPCOMING: 900 words by 5 p.m., photos.
WASHINGTON — The turbulence that's roiling financial markets is punishing stock investors, raising concerns for major U.S. companies and will likely mean even punier yields for savers. Yet many consumers actually stand to benefit. Lower oil prices and sinking interest rates will reduce gas prices, keep inflation low and make mortgages a tempting bargain. Here's how the turmoil stands to affects different groups, from consumers to borrowers to Federal Reserve policymakers. By Christopher S. Rugaber. UPCOMING: 850 words by 3:30 p.m.
— BOND SURGE — Investors flood into the U.S. government bond market in a way not seen since the depths of the financial crisis. As prices for bonds soared, the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note falls below 2 percent for the first time since June 2013. UPCOMING: 500 words by 2 p.m., photos.
NEW YORK — No cable? No problem. Viewers longing to watch "Game of Thrones", "True Detective" and "Veep" will no longer have to pay big bucks for cable and satellite contracts. Next year HBO is cutting the cord and selling its popular streaming video service HBO Go as a stand-alone product, as more Americans choose to watch the Web, not the TV. The move targets the 80 million homes in the U.S. that do not have HBO but may want access to its content — and especially the nation's 10 million broadband-only homes. By Mae Anderson and Michael Liedtke. SENT: 440 words, photo. UPCOMING: 700 words, photo by 3 p.m.
PARIS — Pencils down, papers over. France finds itself in the uncomfortable position of a student at the end of exams as it hands in its 2015 budget plans to European Union authorities for review. Wednesday's deadline for the bloc's 28 member states to submit their budgets opens up a two-week window during which France and a few other countries who know they've missed several targets in their budget plans must wait and hope for leniency, or be forced into a redo. It's a process that will either cause humiliation for France, Europe's second largest economy, or make a mockery of the EU's new debt rules meant to avoid a repeat of the debt crisis. By Greg Keller. SENT: 840 words, photo.
NEW YORK — What does a small business do in the midst of mountains of snow? Try to profit from it. After last year's rough winter and with forecasts of another snowy season, company owners want to ensure they can operate through whatever's ahead and, in some cases, capitalize from it. By Joyce M. Rosenberg. UPCOMING: 600 words, photos by 11 a.m.
MARKETS & ECONOMY:
DALLAS — News that a health worker diagnosed with Ebola flew on a commercial flight the night before showing symptoms raises fears on Wall Street that the scare over the virus could reduce air travel. Shares of the biggest U.S. airlines tumbled between 4 percent and 6 percent in afternoon trading. By David Koenig. SENT: 430 words.
— MED--EBOLA-AIRPLANE — A top federal health official say a Texas health worker should not have been flying aboard a commercial airline after being exposed to Ebola. SENT: 360 words, photos, audio.
WASHINGTON — U.S. retail sales retreat in September as purchases of autos, gasoline, furniture and clothing slowed, a sign that recent job gains have yet to significantly boost consumer spending. By Josh Boak. SENT: 570 words, photo.
WASHINGTON — Inflation was limited last month because of falling gasoline and food costs that have lowered the prices that U.S. companies received for their goods and services. By Josh Boak. SENT: 440 words, photo.
WASHINGTON — U.S. businesses increase their stockpiles in August by the smallest amount in more than a year, while sales fall by the largest amount since January. The data suggest that the economy is still having trouble gaining momentum. By Martin Crutsinger. SENT: 340 words.
WASHINGTON — The deficit for the just completed 2014 budget year is $483 billion, the lowest of President Barack Obama's six years in office, the government says. It's the lowest since 2008 and, when measured against the size of the economy, is below the average deficits of the past 40 years. By Andrew Taylor. SENT: 450 words, photos.
WASHINGTON — The Federal Reserve releases its latest Beige Book survey of current economic conditions. Its last report showed that the U.S. economy strengthened in all regions of the country in July and August, with most regions reporting optimism about key economic sectors. UPCOMING: 130 words after release of report at 2 p.m., 350 words by 2:45 p.m.
WASHINGTON — New York manufacturers are growing at the slowest pace in six months as new orders shrink and shipments barely rise. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York says that its Empire State Manufacturing index dropped to 6.2 in October, down sharply from a five-year high of 27.5 in September. By Christopher S. Rugaber. SENT: 320 words.
NEW YORK — Wal-Mart Stores Inc. plans to dramatically scale back expansion of its U.S. supercenters next year, while investing more in e-commerce. The company also is conducting a major review of its U.S. Wal-Mart business and will update investors on its plans early next year, executives told investors at the retailer's annual analyst meeting. By Anne D'Innocenzio. SENT: 360 words, photo.
WHOLE FOODS-PRODUCE RANKINGS
NEW YORK — Whole Foods plans to start rolling out a system that ranks fruits and vegetables as "good," ''better" or "best" based on the supplier's farming practices. Most notably, the supermarket chain says its "responsibly grown" labeling system for produce and flowers will prohibit the use of several common pesticides. The rankings will also take into account factors such as water and energy usage. By Candice Choi. SENT: 620 words, photo.
OMAHA, Neb. — CSX railroad's top executive says regulators are likely to be reluctant about consolidation among the major industry players because they remain concerned about service. The idea of railroad mergers is on investors' minds this week because of several reports that CSX rejected a merger offer from Canadian Pacific railroad last week. Both railroads have declined to comment on those reports. By Josh Funk. SENT: 450 words.
The drugmaker Shire wants AbbVie to stick with its roughly $55 billion acquisition bid, and it is reminding its U.S. counterpart of the hefty breakup fee it will receive if things don't work out. Shire's U.S.-traded shares shed about a quarter of their value before markets opened and a day after AbbVie Inc. disclosed that it was reconsidering a deal it had fought for weeks to put together. By Tom Murphy. SENT: 440 words, photo.
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court seems divided as it considers a high-stakes patent dispute between rival pharmaceutical companies over the world's best-selling multiple sclerosis treatment. Justices heard arguments in a case that threatens to cut into the profits of Israel-based Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., which sells $4 billion-a-year worth of the drug known as Copaxone. By Sam Hananel. SENT: 140 words. UPCOMING: Will be updated.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Federal agriculture officials say there will be significantly fewer peanuts pulled from the ground in eastern New Mexico this harvest season. And that's because of fallout from the bankruptcy and sale of a peanut-processing plant that was at the heart of a 2012 salmonella outbreak and nationwide recall. By Susan Montoya Bryan. SENT: 180 words. UPCOMING: Will be updated.
— TACO BELL-SRIRACHA — Want to take a run for the border but wind up in Bangkok? Taco Bell is testing a new menu that promises just that, looking to tap into the cult following for the red Thai hot sauce known as Sriracha. SENT: 380 words.
— CHIQUITA-OFFER — Two Brazilian companies are raising their bid for banana company Chiquita to approximately $658 million. Investment firm Safra Group and juice company Cutrale Group said Wednesday that they are now offering $14 per Chiquita share, up from their previous bid of $13 per share. SENT: 460 words.
— GLOBAL AUTO SALES — Volkswagen edges out General Motors for second place in the global auto sales race during the first three quarters of the year, but Toyota was expected to keep its lead to stay in first place. SENT: 290 words.
— CHINA-CARNIVAL — Carnival Corp., the world's No. 1 cruise company, says it's exploring the possibility of a ship building joint venture with a state-owned Chinese company and Italy's Fincantieri. SENT: 300 words.
— NORWAY-STATOIL — Helge Lund, the CEO of Norwegian oil and gas company Statoil, resigns after 10 years in charge of the government-controlled company. Lund will become chief executive of British oil and gas company BG Group in March 2015. SENT: 120 words.
— TOYOTA-RECALLS — Toyota is recalling about 423,000 older-model Lexus luxury cars in the U.S. because a gasket can leak fuel and possibly cause a fire. The recall is among three global recalls that Toyota announced Wednesday totaling about 1.7 million vehicles. SENT: 130 words.
— GERMANY-RYANAIR — The European Commission orders Ryanair to repay more than 300,000 euros ($400,000) provided by a German airport to sustain the Irish budget airline's business, ruling it amounted to illegal state aid. SENT: 360 words, photo.
— FRANCE-AIRBUS — Indian budget airline IndiGo signs a preliminary order with Airbus for 250 A320neo Family aircraft. SENT: 140 words.
— EPA-WEED KILLER — The Environmental Protection Agency approves a new version of a popular weed killer to be used on genetically modified corn and soybeans. SENT: 440 words.
— BEHIND-THE-WHEEL-MITSUBISHI MIRAGE — The non-hybrid new car with the best gasoline mileage rating in the United States is not a Honda or Toyota. It's a Mitsubishi that's priced less than the average cost of a used car or truck. SENT: 970 words, photo, box.
— THAILAND-SKYSCRAPER — A Thai property developer announces plans to build a skyscraper in the Thai capital that will be among the 10 tallest buildings in the world when it is completed in 2019. SENT: 250 words, photo.
— OBAMA-UNEMPLOYED GRANTS — The Obama administration is announcing $170 million in grants divided among 23 work projects across the country that aim to reduce the number of long-term unemployed Americans. SENT: 330 words.
— GERMANY-TRANSPORT STRIKES — A union representing pilots at Lufthansa's short-haul Germanwings unit calls members out on a 12-hour strike, hard on the heels of a walkout by German train drivers in a separate dispute. SENT: 140 words.
— EARNS-BANK OF AMERICA — Bank of America reports third-quarter net income of $168 million. On a per-share basis, the bank said it lost 1 cent in the latest quarter. That compared with a profit of 20 cents a year earlier. SENT: 230 words, photo.
— EARNS-AMERICAN EXPRESS — American Express releases quarterly earnings after the market closes. UPCOMING: 130 words after release.
— EARNS-EBAY — Ebay releases quarterly earnings after the market closes. UPCOMING: 130 words after release.
— EARNS-NETFLIX — Netflix releases quarterly earnings after the market closes. UPCOMING: 130 words after release.
TECHNOLOGY & MEDIA:
DIGITAL LIFE-REVIEW-SAMSUNG NOTE PHONE
NEW YORK — With Apple's release of larger-screen iPhones last month, Samsung's flagship Galaxy phones no longer have the distinction of being "the next big thing," as Samsung's ads like to tout. But there's still plenty to like in Samsung's phones, including the new Galaxy Note 4 phone out this week. By Anick Jesdanun. SENT: 890 words, photos.
— GOOGLE-NEW PHONES AND TABLETS — Google unveils its latest tablet in an apparent effort to upstage Apple's anticipated update of its trend-setting iPad. SENT: 140 words. UPCOMING: Will be updated.
NEW YORK — China's half billion online shoppers will soon have an easier way to shop in the U.S. Alipay, the payments unit recently spun off from Chinese e-commerce powerhouse Alibaba, is launching a service for U.S. retailers called ePass. Alipay has already been working in beta mode with retailers such as luxury deal site Gilt.com, The Gap and H&M. By Mae Anderson. SENT: 400 words, photo.
— TV-CNN CUTS — Jane Velez-Mitchell and her staff have been laid off due to budget cuts at CNN, ending her nightly program on the HLN network. SENT: 150 words.
— QUALCOMM-CSR — Qualcomm is buying British chip maker CSR in a deal worth approximately $2.5 billion as it pushes aggressively into technology that connects devices over the Internet. SENT: 280 words.
ATHENS, Greece — After months out of the spotlight, Greece is back at the center of Europe's financial troubles as concerns over the stability of the government and its bailout program triggered a massive sell-off in stocks and bonds. Greece's main stock index closed 6.3 percent lower — having traded down as much as 9.8 percent lower earlier in the day. Following a 5.7 percent loss on Tuesday, that brings the index to its worst level in 14 months. By Derek Gatopoulos. SENT: 630 words, photos.
— PORTUGAL-MORE AUSTERITY — Unlike fellow bailout country Ireland, which this week announced an end to years of austerity, Portugal's government is prolonging into 2015 the main features of its unpopular debt cuts. SENT: 130 words, photos.
— BRITAIN-ECONOMY — Britain's unemployment rate drops to 6 percent for the June to August period, down from 6.4 percent in the three months before and the lowest rate since 2008. SENT: 140 words.
— SKOREA-ECONOMY — South Korea's central bank lowers its key interest rate to a record low as it tries to bolster a fragile economic recovery. The bank also downgraded its growth forecasts for Asia's fourth-largest economy. SENT: 310 words.
— GERMANY-ENERGY SWITCHOVER — The cost to Germans of subsidizing renewable energy is set to decline next year for the first time, though the impact on their electricity bills will be only slight. SENT: 140 words, photo.
— JAPAN-NUCLEAR — A Japanese governor says the country should not restart any nuclear plants until the cause of the Fukushima meltdown is fully understood and nearby communities have emergency plans that can effectively respond to another major accident. SENT: 530 words.
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Market report card
The stock market has erased its gains for the year and investors are feeling flat. Here's a snapshot of the major market indexes and other measures of market performance. UPCOMING: Graphic expected by 6 p.m.
CSX on consolidation
CSX railroad's top executive cautions that regulators are likely to be reluctant to allow consolidation among the major industry players because of possible service disruptions. UPCOMING: Graphic expected by 6 p.m.