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Editorial Results (free)

1. Online shopping grows, with some growing pains -

Americans waited until the last minute to buy holiday gifts, but retailers weren't prepared for the spike.

Heavy spending in the final days of the mostly lackluster season sent sales up 3.5 percent between Nov. 1 and Tuesday, according to MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse, which tracks payments but doesn't give dollar figures.

2. Bitcoin payments take Flyte: Online currency gains a foothold here as popular restaurant, other businesses cash in -

When Flyte World Dining announced it would be add Bitcoin as a payment option, there were two responses: Tech types were intrigued, and everyone else wondered “what’s a Bitcoin?”

Those in the latter group can be forgiven since that very question was among Google’s top searches of 2013.

3. Answers to questions about the Target data breach -

NEW YORK (AP) — With less than a week until Christmas, a real-life Grinch has stolen the credit and debit card information of about 40 million Target shoppers.

Target says anyone who made purchases by swiping cards at terminals in its U.S. stores between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15 may have had their accounts exposed. The stolen data includes customer names, credit and debit card numbers, card expiration dates and the three-digit security codes located on the backs of cards.

4. Answers to questions about the Target data breach -

NEW YORK (AP) — With less than a week until Christmas, a real-life Grinch has stolen the credit and debit card information of about 40 million Target shoppers.

Target says anyone who made purchases by swiping cards at terminals in its U.S. stores between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15 may have had their accounts exposed. The stolen data includes customer names, credit and debit card numbers, card expiration dates and the three-digit security codes located on the backs of cards.

5. Target: 40M card accounts might be breached -

Target says about 40 million credit and debit card accounts may be affected by a data breach that occurred just as the holiday shopping season shifted into high gear.

The chain said customers who made purchases by swiping their cards at terminals in its U.S. stores between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15 may have had their accounts exposed. The stolen data includes customer names, credit and debit card numbers, card expiration dates and the three-digit security codes located on the backs of cards.

6. Stocks slump following disappointing earnings -

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are falling on Wall Steet as traders react to disappointing earnings from U.S. companies.

Health care stocks had some of the biggest declines. Laboratory Corporation of America slumped after cutting its full-year earnings forecast. Quest Diagnostics, a major competitor, also dropped.

7. Music, gaming industries sounds alarm on piracy -

WASHINGTON (AP) — The music and movie industries are sounding the alarm again on online piracy, saying illegal downloads are on the rise and search engines like Google aren't doing enough to stop them.

8. Is home where the profit is for J.C. Penney? -

NEW YORK (AP) — J.C. Penney is honing in on its home department as part of a bigger plan to turn its stores into mini-malls of sorts.

The struggling department-store chain is unveiling revamped home areas within its stores that feature 20 boutiques that highlight 50 new brands. The areas will include an eclectic mix of items, from $60 Michael Graves' stainless steel teakettles to $1,850 Jonathan Adler "Happy Chic" sofas.

9. US consumer confidence falls on fiscal cliff fears -

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. consumer confidence tumbled in December, driven lower by fears of sharp tax increases and government spending cuts set to take effect next week.

The Conference Board said Thursday that its consumer confidence index fell this month to 65.1, down from 71.5 in November. That's the second straight decline and the lowest level since August.

10. Stores look to week after Christmas for sales -

Bargain-hungry Americans will need to go on a post-Christmas spending binge to salvage this holiday shopping season.

Despite the huge discounts and other incentives that stores offered leading up to Christmas, U.S. holiday sales so far this year have been the weakest since 2008, when the nation was in a deep recession.

11. Shoppers disappoint retailers this holiday season -

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. holiday sales so far this year have been the weakest since 2008, when the nation was in a deep recession. That puts pressure on stores that now hope for a post-Christmas burst of spending.

12. Retailers pull stocks lower on poor holiday sales -

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are closing lower after a weak holiday shopping report sent shares of major retailers lower.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 24 points to close at 13,114 Wednesday. It was the third straight loss for the Dow.

13. Discounts abound as stores try to salvage season -

NEW YORK (AP) — When it comes to fat holiday discounts, better late than never.

This holiday shopping season, many stores haven't been offering the same blockbuster deals as they have in years past. Instead, they've dangled offers of free shipping and no-fee layaways to lure shoppers.

14. Retailers report weak sales gains for November -

NEW YORK (AP) — Black Friday was no match for Sandy.

Major retailers such as Kohl's, Target and Macy's on Thursday reported weak sales in November as a strong start to the holiday shopping season — including a good showing on the day after Thanksgiving — wasn't enough to fully offset the damage caused by Superstorm Sandy earlier in the month.

15. US retail sales drop 0.3 percent in October -

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans cut back on spending at retail businesses in October, an indication that some remain cautious about the economic outlook. Superstorm Sandy also depressed car sales and slowed business in the Northeast at the end of the month.

16. Groupon launches payments service in US -

NEW YORK (AP) — Groupon launched a new payment service Wednesday that allows businesses to run credit cards using an iPhone or iPod Touch, the latest company to seek a portion of that growing market.

17. Retail group says it opposes card fee settlement -

WASHINGTON (AP) — The National Retail Federation is opposing a proposed $7.25 billion settlement that Visa Inc., MasterCard Inc. and major banks have agreed to pay retailers for alleged fee fixing.

18. Retailers to launch mobile app for payments -

NEW YORK (AP) — A bevy of big-name retailers including Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Best-Buy Co. and Target Corp., are teaming up to create a company that will give customers another way to make purchases: with their cellphones.

19. Stocks close lower after consumer spending slides -

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks closed lower for the seventh day out of the last eight on Monday after the government reported that U.S. consumers cut their spending last month.

The news pushed stocks down from the start of the trading day. Though they recovered a bit around midday, all three major indexes closed down. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 49.88 points, or 0.4 percent, to 12,727.21.

20. Stocks slide ahead of corporate earnings season -

NEW YORK (AP) — Edgy investors sent stocks lower Monday on Wall Street ahead of U.S. corporate earnings reports and amid more signs of instability in Europe.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 36.18 points at 12,736.29. It was the Dow's third straight day of declines.

21. US gasoline prices cheapest since January -

NEW YORK (AP) — The price of gasoline has dropped to a five-month low, giving drivers some relief ahead of the July 4 holiday.

The national average fell to around $3.40 per gallon on Tuesday. South Carolina, at $2.987, has the distinction of being the first state with an average below $3 since February 2011. Even in states that impose high gas taxes, such as New York and California, pump prices are averaging less that $4.

22. Banks target payday loan customers -

A common assumption is that users of non-bank financial services – payday loan or check cashing businesses – are primarily low-income or are among the unbanked or underbanked. But after conducting a survey of its existing customers, Regions Bank found there was a demand for such products by people from all income levels.

23. Oil drops to lowest level in 6 months -

NEW YORK (AP) — The price of oil dropped to a six-month low Tuesday on renewed concern that Greece would be forced to leave the European common currency and trigger shockwaves across Europe.

Benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude gave up 80 cents to end the day at $93.98 per barrel in New York. Oil hasn't finished this low since Dec. 19.

24. US gasoline prices now cheaper than a year ago -

NEW YORK (AP) — After dropping for most of the month, gasoline is now cheaper in much of the U.S. than it was a year ago.

That hasn't happened in more than two years, and it could be part of a larger decline in gasoline prices that could lift consumer confidence ahead of the summer driving season.

25. US stocks flat after mixed economic data -

Investors coasted Thursday while they waited for a critical government report on jobs. Stocks were mostly flat, a pause from their strong start this year, and bonds didn't move much, either.

The Labor Department said the four-week average of unemployment claims fell to 375,750, the lowest since June 2008 and enough to suggest a steadily improving job market.

26. Oil price stays around $103 per barrel -

NEW YORK (AP) — Oil prices were little changed Wednesday as traders booked profits after a 4-percent surge at the start of the year.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose 26 cents to finish at $103.22 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, which is used to price foreign oil that's imported by U.S. refineries, rose $1.57 to end the day at $113.70 per barrel in London.

27. Stock market ends mixed a day after big gains -

Stocks barely budged Wednesday, letting investors hold on to their gains from a strong opening to the year a day earlier.

Strong December sales boosted carmakers and specialty retailers. Banks, health care companies, and utilities fell slightly. But nothing moved much.

28. US service firms expanded in Nov. at slower pace -

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. service companies, which employ 90 percent of the U.S. work force, expanded at slower pace in November and a measure of employment fell sharply.

The Institute for Supply Management said Monday that its index of service sector activity dropped to 52 from 52.9 in October. Any reading above 50 indicates expansion. The service sector has grown for two straight years. But the reading was the lowest since January 2010.

29. Unemployment rate falls to lowest since March 2009 -

WASHINGTON (AP) — Small businesses that were skittish about the economy this summer started hiring in bigger numbers this fall, helping drive the unemployment rate down to 8.6 percent in November, the lowest in two and a half years.

30. Data shows robust start for holiday retail sales -

NEW YORK (AP) — Retail sales for the four-day holiday weekend, starting with Thanksgiving Day, rose 8.7 percent from a year earlier, a key data service said Thursday.

The figures from MasterCard Advisors' SpendingPulse show the holiday shopping season got off to a robust start with help from midnight openings Thanksgiving evening and deep discounting.

31. Oil again flirting with $100 per barrel -

NEW YORK (AP) — Oil prices are soaring again, but motorists don't need to worry — yet.

The price of crude has jumped 22 percent since the beginning of October and is nearing $100 a barrel. For most of the summer, oil prices drifted lower on fears that the U.S. was headed toward another recession. But those concerns have started to wane as the economy stabilizes. Political tensions in the Middle East, which produces 29 percent of the world's oil, also have helped drive up crude prices at the fastest clip since February.

32. Oil hovers above $85 amid demand forecast cuts -

SINGAPORE (AP) — Oil prices hovered above $85 a barrel Thursday in Asia after the International Energy Agency joined OPEC in cutting its forecasts for crude oil demand amid a slowing global economy.

33. Retail trade group sees modest holiday sales gain -

NEW YORK (AP) — The National Retail Federation, the nation's largest retail trade group, expects winter holiday sales to rise 2.8 percent to $465.6 billion this year.

That would be smaller than 2010's 5.2 percent increase, but it's higher than the average increase for November and December over the past 10 years.

34. Retail trade group sees modest holiday sales gain -

NEW YORK (AP) — The National Retail Federation, the nation's largest retail trade group, expects winter holiday sales to rise 2.8 percent to $465.6 billion this year.

That would be smaller than 2010's 5.2 percent increase, but it's higher than the average increase for November and December over the past 10 years.

35. Oil rebounds from 12-month lows -

NEW YORK (AP) — Oil is rebounding from 12-month lows on signs that financial leaders will move to bolster struggling European banks.

Benchmark crude on Wednesday jumped $2.71, or 3.5 percent, to $78.36 per barrel in New York, while Brent crude rose $2.30, or 2.3 percent to $102.09 in London.

36. Oil near $93 as weak US economy drags markets down -

Oil prices fell to near $93 a barrel Wednesday as investor pessimism about the U.S. economy dragged down global markets.

By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark oil for September delivery was down 48 cents to $93.31 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Crude lost $1.10 to settle at $93.79 on Tuesday.

37. Colbert gets conditional OK on campaign finance -

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Election Commission said Thursday that comedian Stephen Colbert can use his TV show's resources to boost his political action committee, but he must disclose some major expenses as in-kind contributions from the show's corporate owners.

38. Oil climbs ahead of Greek austerity vote -

NEW YORK (AP) — Oil climbed more than 2 percent Tuesday ahead of a vote in Greece to approve tough new financial reforms that would shore up its beleaguered economy.

Benchmark West Texas Intermediate gained $2.28, or 2.5 percent, to settle at $92.89 per barrel Tuesday on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In London, Brent crude added $2.79, or 2.6 percent, to settle at $108.78 per barrel on the ICE Futures Exchange.

39. Data shows spending on home products falls in May -

NEW YORK (AP) — Consumers spent less on big-ticket home items such as furniture and appliances in May as the housing market continued to slump, but categories such as clothing and luxury items fared better, according to data released Wednesday by MasterCard Inc.

40. Oil falls below $100 after surprise US supply jump -

SINGAPORE (AP) — Oil prices fell below $100 a barrel Thursday in Asia after a report showed an unexpected jump in U.S. crude supplies, suggesting demand is weakening.

Benchmark oil for July delivery was down 47 cents to $99.82 a barrel in late afternoon Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract lost $2.41 to settle at $100.29 on Wednesday.

41. Oil above $100 as traders eye dollar, recovery -

Oil prices inched above $100 a barrel Thursday thanks to the effects of a stronger dollar, but gains were limited by the International Energy Agency's warning that expensive crude was hurting the global economy.

42. Oil slips to near $106 as traders book profits -

Oil prices slid toward $106 a barrel Thursday as traders booked profits on recent gains, but remained well supported on indications that the two-month crude rally hasn't yet undermined consumer demand.