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NEW YORK — For stock investors, there was no shortage of drama in October. Stocks started the month modestly below a record high, only to cascade to their worst slump in two years. But after flirting with a correction, or a 10 percent drop, the U.S. market rebounded and closed at all-time highs on the last day of the month. All told, U.S. stocks ended October solidly higher, up 2.3 percent. By Ken Sweet. SENT: 900 words, photos.



TOKYO — Japan's central bank surprises the financial world and pleases stock investors by intensifying its purchases of government bonds and other assets to try to revive a chronically anemic economy. The Bank of Japan's move to pump trillions more yen into the financial system is intended to stimulate spending in the world's third-largest economy. It's an acknowledgement that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government has so far failed in its broad efforts to revive growth, especially after a sales tax hike took effect in April. By Elaine Kurtenbach. SENT: 950 words, photos, Q&A.


NEW YORK — The sight is so surprising that Americans are sharing photos of it, along with all those cute Halloween costumes, sweeping vistas and special meals: The gas station sign, with a price under $3 a gallon. The national average price of gasoline has fallen 33 cents in October, landing Friday at $3.00, according to AAA. Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at the Oil Price Information Service, says the average will fall under $3 by early Saturday morning for the first time in four years. By Jonathan Fahey. SENT: 720 words, photos, graphic, interactive.


— EARNS-BIG OIL — Falling oil prices hardly seem to be bothering the two biggest U.S. oil companies. Exxon and Chevron leaned on strong performances from their refining operations to increase profits in the third quarter despite plummeting global oil prices. Exxon, unlike European rivals Shell and BP, says the low prices won't prompt it to cut investments in new projects. By Jonathan Fahey. Incorporates BC-US--Earns-Exxon and BC-US--Earns-Chevron. SENT: 590 words, photo.


TOKYO — When she came to life in 1974, she was a kitty without a name, sitting sideways in blue overalls and a big red bow, on a coin purse for Japanese girls. On Saturday, fans around the world celebrate the 40th anniversary of this global icon of "cute-cool." That is, Hello Kitty. By Mari Yamaguchi. SENT: 800 words, photos.


NEW YORK — For the first time, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is offering free shipping on what it considers the season's top 100 hottest gifts, from board games to items related to Disney's hit film "Frozen" items, starting Saturday. The move comes as rival Target Corp. began offering free shipping on all items, a program that started late October and will last through Dec. 20. By Anne D'Innocenzio. SENT: 600 words, photo.



WASHINGTON — U.S. consumers cut spending in September for the first time in eight months, as incomes grew at the slowest pace this year. The figures underscore nagging economic soft spots that are expected to ease in the coming months. By Martin Crutsinger. SENT: 630 words, photo.


WASHINGTON — U.S. consumers expect better economic growth and rising incomes in the coming months, pushing a measure of confidence to a seven-year high in October. By Christopher S. Rugaber. SENT: 350 words, photo.



DETROIT — Nissan says it's recalling more than 1,800 Infiniti SUVs in the U.S. for an air bag problem that could send shrapnel into the passenger compartment. The recall covers some QX56 SUVs from 2013 and the QX80s from 2014. The company says inflators made by Takata Corp. were built with an incorrect outer baffle part. That can cause pressure to build up, and the inflators can rupture if driver's side air bags are deployed. By Tom Krisher. SENT: 530 words.


WASHINGTON — Call it drugs for the departed: Medicare's prescription program kept paying for costly medications even after patients were dead. The problem was traced back to a head-scratching bureaucratic rule that's now getting a second look. Medicare said it's working on a fix. By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar. SENT: 730 words, photo.


MOJAVE, Calif. — A Virgin Galactic space tourism rocket explods during a test flight, killing a pilot aboard and seriously injuring another while scattering wreckage in Southern California's Mojave Desert. SENT: 700 words, photos, graphic.


— SPACESHIPTWO-BRANSON — British billionaire Richard Branson is headed to California's Mojave Desert after a Virgin Galactic space tourism rocket exploded and crashed, killing one person and seriously injuring another. SENT: 100 words.

— GASOLINE PRICES — The average price of gasoline in the U.S. hits $3 a gallon, and should soon drop below the benchmark for the first time since December 2010. SENT: 130 words.

— GERMANY-DAIMLER-MV AUGUSTA — Daimler says it is taking a 25-percent stake in Italian motorcycle maker MV Augusta for an undisclosed amount. SENT: 120 words.

— SURGICAL GOWNS LAWSUIT — A $500 million lawsuit against Kimberly-Clark Corp. alleges the company falsely claimed its surgical gowns protected against Ebola and other infectious diseases. SENT: 450 words.

— OMEGA HEALTHCARE-AVIV ACQUISITION — Omega Healthcare will buy rival real estate investment trust Aviv in a $3 billion all-stock deal combining two companies that each run hundreds of nursing homes. SENT: 190 words.

— JAPAN-MISSING PLANE-LAWSUIT — Two Malaysian children sue Malaysia Airlines and the government over the loss of their father on Flight 370, the first lawsuit filed in the country by relatives of those aboard the jetliner that mysteriously disappeared eight months ago. SENT: 500 words, photo.

— BOEING PLANT-POLICE — Police in Everett, Washington say they've searched a portion of a Boeing aircraft plant after two employees reported seeing what appeared to be an armed man, but officers found nothing to substantiate the reports. SENT: 150 words.

— REDSKINS NAME — A federal judge seems to think Native Americans offended by the Washington Redskins team name are properly being sued by the NFL franchise. SENT: 400 words.


— JAPAN-EARNS-SONY — Sony's losses balloon to 136 billion yen ($1.2 billion) last quarter as the Japanese electronics and entertainment company's troubled mobile phone division reported huge red ink. SENT: 380 words, photos.

— EARNS-EXXON — ExxonMobil profits rise 3 percent in the third quarter as strong refining performance offset lower revenues from falling oil prices and production. SENT: 310 words, photo.

— BELGIUM-EARNS-AB INBEV — AB InBev SA, the brewer of Budweiser, Stella Artois and Corona, reports a 5.5-percent increase in earnings for the third quarter, as higher selling prices more than made up for volume declines in Europe and Asia. SENT: 140 words.

— ABBVIE-FORECAST — Drugmaker AbbVie surprises Wall Street with a third-quarter performance that turned out much better than expected and provided a new 2014 forecast that extends well beyond what analysts predict. SENT: 360 words.

— BRITAIN-RBS — Royal Bank of Scotland, which is majority-owned by the U.K. government, sets aside 400 million pounds ($639 million) to cover potential fines arising from international investigations into alleged manipulation of foreign currency trading. SENT: 140 words.


— HUNGARY-INTERNET TAX — Following large-scale protests, Hungary's prime minister says the government would suspend a planned tax on Internet use and reconsider the matter next year. SENT: 340 words, photos.

— DENMARK-HACKING — A Danish court sentences the Swedish founder of file-sharing site The Pirate Bay to 3½ years in prison after he was found guilty of hacking into a private company handling sensitive information for Danish authorities. SENT: 300 words.

— TRIBUNE-SUBUBAN NEWSPAPERS — The parent company of the Chicago Sun-Times has sold six daily newspapers and 32 weekly publications to Tribune Publishing Co. SENT: 140 words.

— MICROSOFT OFFICE — After a long wait, Microsoft says it plans to release a new version of its popular Office software package for Mac computers — but not until next year. SENT: 140 words.



TOKYO — Japan's $1.1 trillion public pension fund approves a plan to double its holdings of shares and cut back sharply on bonds to help improve investment returns and meet its obligations to a swelling number of retirees. The much-anticipated decision came just a few hours after a surprise announcement by the Bank of Japan that it will increase its annual asset purchases to as much as 80 trillion yen ($725 billion) to shore up faltering growth. By Elaine Kurtenbach. SENT: 900 words, photo.


FRANKFURT, Germany — Inflation crept higher in the 18 countries that use the euro in October — but the rise to an annual 0.4 percent offered little relief to the European Central Bank as it tries to boost a weak economy. Inflation was up from 0.3 percent the month before. The figure announced by EU statistics agency Eurostat is in line with market expectations but remains way below the bank's goal of keeping inflation just below 2 percent. By David McHugh. SENT: 640 words.


DONETSK, Ukraine — Vitaly Khristich is one of hundreds of miners who each day brave the artillery fire that flares between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian troops to go down — deep, deep down — into the local mines. The mild-mannered man in his late 30s with a shy smile does this even though he has not been paid for months, even though his hometown has been torn up by war, and even though no one is really certain what government will eventually rule this territory — the central leadership in Kiev or the separatists who want to join Russia. By Nataliya Vasilyeva. SENT: 1,000 words, photos.


— UKRAINE-RUSSIA GAS — Russia will resume shipping natural gas to Ukraine after Kiev pays off its first debt installment for past supplies of gas next week, officials say. SENT: 620 words, photo.

— EBOLA-NORTH KOREA QUARANTINE — North Korea's quarantine of foreigners to prevent Ebola has not disrupted business with the nation's largest trading partner, Chinese businesspeople say, although a tourist ban has hurt travel agencies that run tours to the reclusive country. SENT: 530 words, photo.

— RUSSIA-ECONOMY — Russia's central bank raises its main interest rate by more than anticipated as it tries to stem the ruble's fall. SENT: 290 words.

— BRITAIN-WORLD WAR I BONDS — Britain is repaying some of the 2 billion pounds ($3.2 billion) it still owes investors who helped finance World War I. SENT: 140 words.

— UNITED STATES-MYANMAR-SANCTIONS — The U.S. Treasury blacklists a hard-line lawmaker of Myanmar's ruling party, accusing him of undermining political and economic reforms. SENT: 150 words.

—CYPRUS-CENTRAL BANK — Cyprus' president has strongly criticized the bailed-out country's Central Bank chief for not disclosing details of her daughter's job, which may have embroiled her in a possible conflict of interest. SENT: 130 words.

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Poll position

Forget Democrats, Republicans or even the Farmer-Labor party. The biggest winners of midterm elections over the last eight decades may have been investors. In the 90 days following a midterm election, stocks have risen 86 percent of the time since 1928, according to Barclays Capital. That's a much better success rate than during comparable periods in the four-year presidential election cycle. UPCOMING: Graphic expected by 6 p.m.


AbbVie raises guidance

Shares of drugmaker AbbVie get a lift after the company raises its earnings guidance for the second time this year. UPCOMING: Graphic expected by 6 p.m.