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Last Update on December 12, 2013 08:31 GMT
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) -- Asian stocks extended losses today after an apparent budget deal in the U.S. Congress reinforced expectations the Federal Reserve will cut its monetary stimulus as early as next week.
Mizuho Bank Ltd. in Singapore said the budget deal, coupled with a strong run of U.S. economic data, raised the probability of the Fed cutting, or tapering, its $85 billion of monthly bond purchases when it meets Dec. 17-18.
The stimulus has kept U.S. interest rates low to encourage economic recovery, and sent a flood of money into stock markets worldwide in search of higher returns. Its potential pullback has jolted markets and added to nervousness in emerging nations about sudden capital outflows.
Some analysts also said the budget deal doesn't prevent another standoff among lawmakers over the debt ceiling, which has to be raised by early February if the U.S. is to avoid defaulting on its debt.
Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell but remains above $97 a barrel. The dollar gained against the yen and fell against the euro.
ECONOMY-THE DAY AHEAD
Major business and economic reports scheduled for today
WASHINGTON -- Wall Street will be closely watching the government's weekly jobless claims number today.
Investors will also be reviewing the Commerce Department's retail sales data for November and October's business inventories.
Also due out today are the weekly mortgage rates from Freddie Mac.
In Europe, the global airline industry is issuing its annual profit forecast and outlook for the coming year, and reports on its financial condition including what's expected to be a modest improvement in global net profits to $10.6 billion for 2013, mainly based on more passengers and cargo.
Also, European evaluators are releasing a report on the Vatican's progress in complying with international norms to fight money-laundering and terror financing. The report comes as Pope Francis ramps up his reforms of the embattled Vatican bank.
NEW YORK (AP) -- Hilton is back, and in a big way.
The hotelier, which went private in 2007, says its initial public offering priced Wednesday at $20 per share -- in the middle of its expected range -- for a total take of $2.35 billion on the sale of 117.6 million shares.
The payoff surpasses the $2.1 billion generated by Twitter's IPO last month. The biggest IPO of the year so far was Plains GP Holdings LP at $2.9 billion.
Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. is the world's largest hotel group, when measured by rooms, with 665,667 rooms across 90 countries and territories.
Blackstone Group LP, which led the $20 billion buyout of Hilton six years ago, is not selling any shares in the IPO, and will continue to hold majority voting power.
Facebook to join S&P 500, Abercrombie exiting
NEW YORK (AP) -- Facebook will join the Standard & Poor's 500 stock index, replacing technology supplier Teradyne Inc., while Abercrombie & Fitch is downgraded from the benchmark index.
S&P Dow Jones Indices on Wednesday announced a broader reshuffling of several of its market trackers, effective after the close of trading Dec. 20.
Shares of Menlo Park, Calif.-based Facebook Inc. have surged 86 percent this year and picked up nearly 4 percent in after-hours trading. The company is also joining the S&P 100 index.
Abercrombie & Fitch Co. stock is down 31 percent in 2013 as teen retailers fade in popularity. It's being moved down to an index for companies with smaller market values, the S&P MidCap 400. The New Albany, Ohio-based company's stock shed almost 2 percent in extended trading.
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- While foreclosures remain a concern in select states, the number of homes entering the path to foreclosure or winding up repossessed by lenders nationwide has fallen to levels not seen in more than six years.
The trend is the latest sign foreclosures are becoming less of a national factor on the housing recovery and more of a state and metropolitan-area concern.
According to new data from foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac, lenders initiated foreclosure action against 52,826 homes in November, down 10 percent from the previous month and a drop of 32 percent from November last year.
RealtyTrac says the last time the tally of monthly foreclosure starts was lower was in December 2005.
Foreclosure starts did increase last month on an annual basis in 15 states, including Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and Oregon.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first generic versions of the blockbuster antidepressant Cymbalta, offering lower-cost access to one of the most widely prescribed treatments for depression, anxiety and other disorders.
Cymbalta is Eli Lilly & Co. Inc.'s best-selling drug and posted 2012 sales of $4.7 billion, making it the fifth-highest selling medication in the world. The drug's patent expired Wednesday, clearing the way for the launch of cheaper versions of the drug from generic drug makers. Generic drugs often sell for a fraction of the price of the original branded product.
Besides depression, Cymbalta is also prescribed to treat generalized anxiety disorder, diabetic nerve pain, fibromyalgia and forms of chronic pain.
The FDA said it approved six generic versions of the pill from drugmakers including Dr. Reddy's Laboratories Ltd., Sun Pharma Global and Teva Pharmaceuticals.
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Federal bus safety regulators have shut down 52 companies in what they describe as a major nationwide crackdown.
Among the violations that inspectors discovered were drivers whose licenses were suspended or who drove more than 800 miles without rest.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said Thursday that in April it started checking out 250 companies with poor safety records.
Of the 52 that were shut down, three have made changes that allowed them to reopen.
Agency administrator Anne S. Ferro says the companies aren't just low-cost, fly-by-night carriers -- some have transported school bands, Boy Scouts or senior citizens.
Ferro says that while most of the nation's approximately 4,000 interstate bus companies are safe, others "put safety by the wayside in order to compete in a very tight market."
CITRUS GREENING EMERGENCY
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- The federal government is waging war against citrus greening disease, which threatens to devastate Florida's orange crop and could affect the entire nation.
The Agriculture Department will announce Thursday that it's creating an "emergency response framework" to battle citrus greening. It will gather groups, agencies and experts to coordinate and focus federal research on the disease.
Citrus greening is spread by insects. It causes a tree to produce green, disfigured and bitter fruits by altering the tree's nutrient flow. Eventually it kills the tree. The disease threatens Florida's $9 billion citrus industry.
The new USDA group will help coordinate and prioritize federal research with industry's efforts to combat the disease.
The USDA will also launch a new section on its website about greening that will serve as an information clearinghouse.
NEW YORK (AP) -- Exxon Mobil says the drive for higher living standards around the world will keep demand for electricity and transportation fuels growing even as economies get more efficient and governments put a price on pollution.
The company's annual long-term energy outlook, released Thursday, predicts world energy demand will grow 35 percent by 2040 as electricity and modern fuels are brought to some of the billions of people in the developing world who currently live without power or burn wood or other biomass for cooking and heating.
Those growing needs will be somewhat offset by a slow decline in consumption in the more energy-hungry economies of the developed world.
Exxon's outlook, which forecasts world energy demand through 2040, is noted by investors and policymakers, and used by Exxon to shape its investments.
MONTREAL (AP) -- Air Canada plans to spend up to $6.5 billion to buy 61 narrow-body aircraft from Boeing as it moves to update its fleet over the next decade.
Canada's largest carrier said Wednesday it could expand the order to as many as 109 of Chicago-based Boeing's 737 MAX planes as it replaces older Airbus and some Embraer aircraft.
The order includes three sizes of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft and includes options for 18 planes and rights to purchase an addition 30 aircraft.
Deliveries of the firm order are scheduled to begin in 2017 with two planes and be completed in 2021.
GOOGLE-JET FUEL DISCOUNTS
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- A government report has determined a fleet of aircraft owned by Google's founders and former CEO received improper discounts on jet fuel that saved the three billionaires up to $5.3 million.
The findings released Wednesday by NASA's Inspector General surfaced during a review of a government airfield lease for seven planes and two helicopters controlled by Google's founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, and the Internet search company's former CEO, Eric Schmidt.
The aircraft are managed through a company called H211 set up by the Google Inc. executives. H211 has been paying $1.4 million annually since 2007 to lease hangar space from NASA at a former U.S. Navy base located four miles from Google's Mountain View, Calif., headquarters.
The report said the improper fuel discounts stopped in September.
SyriaThe Syrian civil war, (also known as the Syrian uprising or Syrian crisis) is an ongoing armed conflict in Syria between forces loyal to the Ba'ath government and those seeking to oust it.
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