Business Highlights: Black Friday blues, stocks close mixed

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Inflation hovers over shoppers seeking deals on Black Friday

NEW YORK (AP) — Shoppers eager to start holiday shopping but weighed down by inflation are hunting for the best deals at stores and online this Black Friday. Retailers that had offered mostly lackluster discounts earlier in the season responded this week with new bargains. Elevated prices for food, rent, gasoline and other household costs have taken a toll on shoppers. As a result, many are reluctant to spend unless there is a big sale and are being more selective with what they will buy — in many cases, trading down to cheaper stuff and less expensive stores. Shoppers are also dipping more into their savings, turning increasingly to “buy now, pay later” services that allow users to pay for items in installments. They are also running up their credit cards.

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Musk plans to relaunch Twitter premium service, again

LONDON (AP) — Elon Musk says that Twitter plans to relaunch its premium service that will offer different colored check marks to accounts next week. Friday’s announcement is the latest change to the social media platform that the billionaire Tesla CEO bought last month for $44 billion, coming a day after Musk said he would grant “amnesty” for suspended accounts. Twitter previously suspended the premium service, which which under Musk granted blue-check labels to anyone paying $8 a month, because of a wave of imposter accounts. In the latest version, Musk said companies will get a gold check, governments will get a gray check, and individuals, whether or not they’re celebrities, will get a blue check.

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Netflix nights still come wrapped in red-and-white envelopes

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (AP) — Netflix’s trailblazing DVD-by-mail rental service has been relegated as a relic in the age of video streaming, but there is still a steady — albeit shrinking — audience of diehards who are happily paying to receive those discs in the iconic red-and-white envelopes. The service that has shipping more than 5 billion discs across the U.S. since its inception nearly a quarter century ago may not be around much longer. Its customer base has dwindled to an estimated 1.5 million subscribers from more than 11 million in 2011 when Netflix spun it off from its video streaming business. Co-CEO Reed Hastings has previously suggested it could close in 2023.

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EU, US edging toward trade spat when both want unity instead

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union and the United States are treading precariously close to a major trans-Atlantic trade dispute at a time when the two Western giants want to show unity in the face of challenges from Russia and China. EU trade ministers are insisting they would be forced to respond if Washington stuck to all the terms of its Inflation Reduction Act, which is favorable to local companies through subsidies. The EU says it will unfairly discriminate against its firms that want to compete for contracts.

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Walmart shooting raises need for violence prevention at work

NEW YORK (AP) — The mass shooting Wednesday at a Walmart in Virginia is only the latest example of a workplace shooting perpetrated by an employee. Many companies have active shooter training. But experts say there is much less focus on how to prevent workplace violence. Workers too often don’t know how to recognize warning signs and co-workers. More crucially, they often don’t know how to report suspicious behavior or feel empowered to do so, according to workplace safety and human resources experts. One expert said too often attention is focused on the “red flags” and workers should instead be looking for the “yellow flags” — subtle changes in behavior, like increased anger or not showing up for work.

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EXPLAINER: What’s the effect of Russian oil price cap, ban?

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — The deadline is looming for Western allies to agree on a price cap on Russia oil. The cap proposed by U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen aims to reduce Russia’s oil earnings that support its military and the invasion of Ukraine. But there are questions about how effective the cap will be. The Dec. 5 start date also coincides with the European Union’s embargo on most Russian oil shipments. There’s uncertainty about how all this will affect oil markets, which are swinging between fears of lost Russian supply and weakening demand from the lagging global economy. The biggest disruption may not come until Feb. 5, when Europe halts imports of Russian oil products including diesel fuel.

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Twitter, others slip on removing hate speech, EU review says

LONDON (AP) — European Union data shows that Twitter took longer to review hateful content and removed less of it in 2022 compared with the previous year. The figures were published Thursday as part of an annual evaluation of online platforms’ compliance with the bloc’s code of conduct on disinformation. Twitter wasn’t alone — most other tech companies signed up to the voluntary code also scored worse. But the figures could foreshadow trouble for Twitter in complying with the EU’s tough new online rules after owner Elon Musk fired many of the platform’s 7,500 full-time workers and an untold number of contractors responsible for content moderation and other crucial tasks.

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Musk says granting ‘amnesty’ to suspended Twitter accounts

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — New Twitter owner Elon Musk says he is granting “amnesty” for suspended accounts, which online safety experts predict will spur a rise in harassment, hate speech and misinformation. The billionaire’s announcement Thursday came after he asked in a poll posted to his timeline to vote on reinstatements for accounts that have not “broken the law or engaged in egregious spam.” The yes vote was 72%. After a similar highly unscientific poll last weekend, Musk reinstated the account of former President Donald Trump, which Twitter had banned for encouraging the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection. Trump has said he won’t return to Twitter but has not deleted his account.

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German economy sees stronger growth in 3rd quarter

BERLIN (AP) — Germany’s economy saw stronger growth in the third quarter than expected as consumer spending picked up following the lifting of pandemic restrictions. Officials figures released Friday show gross domestic product in Europe’s biggest economy grew by 0.4% from July to September, 0.1 percentage points higher than previously forecast. GDP is a widely used measure of the production of goods and services in a country, but critics say it provides only a one-sided account of how an economy is going. The Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has acknowledged that GDP “falls short of providing a suitable measure of people’s material well-being for which alternative indicators may be more appropriate.”

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Stocks close mixed on Wall Street; S&P notches weekly gain

Stocks are closing mixed on Wall Street Friday, but major indexes all notched weekly gains. The S&P 500 edged lower Friday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose and the Nasdaq fell. Technology stocks were the biggest drags on the broader market. Markets were closed on Thursday for the Thanksgiving holiday and closed at 1 p.m. Eastern Friday. Long-term bond yields edged higher. Crude oil prices remained steady. Global shares were mixed amid worries about China’s lockdowns and restrictions to curb the spread of coronavirus infections.

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The S&P 500 fell 1.14 points, or less than 0.1%, to 4,026.12. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 152.97 points, or 0.4%, to 34,347.03. The Nasdaq fell 58.96 points, or 0.5%, to 11,226.36. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies rose 5.67 points, or 0.3%, to 1,869.19.

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