Business Highlights

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Bitcoin soars then falls back; banks raise risk concerns

NEW YORK (AP) — The price of bitcoin is swinging wildly Thursday, rising to more than $19,000 only to fall sharply minutes afterward. The frenzy comes just before futures for bitcoin will start trading on the Chicago Board Options Exchange on Sunday evening and on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange a week later. A group of banks have complained that federal regulators approved the futures too quickly and without properly considering the risks inherent in bitcoin.

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Surging stocks lift US wealth, yet most still trail '07 peak

WASHINGTON (AP) — Surging stock prices and steady increases in home values powered American household wealth to $96.9 trillion this fall, though the gains likely aren't widely shared. The Federal Reserve says that U.S. net worth rose $1.7 trillion in the July-September quarter, extending a steady upward march in American wealth after the Great Recession eliminated about one-sixth of it in 2008 and 2009.

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US consumer borrowing up $20.5 billion in October

WASHINGTON (AP) — American consumers increased their borrowing by $20.5 billion in October. It was the biggest gain in 11 months and reflected strong increases in the use of credit cards and in auto and student loans.

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Key Republicans oppose effort to reduce corporate tax cut

WASHINGTON (AP) — Key Republican lawmakers oppose efforts to scale back a proposed cut in the corporate income tax rate to pay for other tax breaks. Their opposition complicates efforts to appease Republicans from high-tax states. Both the House and Senate tax packages would reduce the corporate income tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent. However, negotiators have been discussing whether to set the corporate rate at 22 percent.

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GE cuts 12K power jobs as demand, renewables, skew market

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — General Electric Co. will cut 12,000 jobs in its power division as alternative energy supplants demand for coal and other fossil fuels, and energy demand declines overall. The company said Thursday that the cuts to both office and production jobs, will help "right-size" GE Power in a traditional power markets that is being upended globally.

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Tech is taking over our lives, and our 401(k) accounts

NEW YORK (AP) — Investing in a stock fund has increasingly become a bet on technology companies, regardless of where in the world the fund focuses on. From Silicon Valley to Shanghai, surging share prices for technology companies mean the industry is making up an ever-larger chunk of stock funds. Tech companies have been able to produce strong profit growth for years, even when the global economy was scuffling, but the strong performance also raises worries that they're overpriced.

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EPA chief denies sidelining science pros to appease industry

WASHINGTON (AP) — Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt says his proposed regulatory rollbacks and other policies are grounded in science. He is dismissing criticisms he is ignoring experts to appease favored industries. Pruitt defended his approach Thursday during his first appearance before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which oversees the EPA. Democrats accused him of purging academic experts from EPA advisory panels. Pruitt says he was avoiding conflicts of interest.

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US mortgage rates rise, though remain historically low

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. mortgage rates rose this week as the economy showed signs of strength, which makes it more likely that the Federal Reserve will raise its short-term rate next week. Mortgage giant Freddie Mac says the rate on the benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose to 3.94 percent from 3.9 percent last week.

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Ford shifts production of electric SUV to Mexico

DETROIT (AP) — Ford Motor Co. is shifting production of an electric SUV from the U.S. to Mexico in order to make more self-driving vehicles in Michigan. Ford announced last January that it would invest $700 million and hire 700 workers to make electric and autonomous vehicles at its Flat Rock plant near Detroit.

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Years after Lehman: Final rules set on strengthening banks

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — A global forum of banking regulators has completed a set of rules aimed at keeping bad banks from needing taxpayer bailouts and hurting the economy. The oversight board of the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision agreed the last batch of rules at a meeting in Frankfurt, Germany, setting limits on how far banks can diverge from regulatory requirements to keep financial buffers against losses.

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S&P 500 snaps losing streak as industrial, tech stocks rise

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stock indexes perked higher following a nearly weeklong lull, and the Standard & Poor's 500 rose on Thursday for the first time in five days. Industrial and technology companies helped lead the way as broad swaths of the market climbed.

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The S&P 500 rose 7.71 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,636.98. The Dow Jones industrials average rose 70.57, or 0.3 percent, to 24,211.48, the Nasdaq composite gained 36.47, or 0.5 percent, to 6,812.84 and the Russell 2000 index of small-cap stocks jumped 11.59, or 0.8 percent, to 1,520.47.

Benchmark U.S. crude added 73 cents to settle at $56.69 per barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, rose 98 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $62.20 a barrel in London. Natural gas fell 16 cents to $2.76 per 1,000 cubic feet, heating oil rose 4 cents to $1.90 per gallon and wholesale gasoline added 4 cents to $1.70 per gallon.