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TMCNet:  AP Business NewsBrief at 6:15 p.m. EST

[December 17, 2012]

AP Business NewsBrief at 6:15 p.m. EST

(Associated Press Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Millions face higher taxes real soon without fixWASHINGTON (AP) _ While much of Washington is consumed by the debate over tax increases scheduled to take effect next year, big tax hikes have already gone into effect for millions of families and businesses this year. More than 70 tax breaks enjoyed by individuals and businesses expired at the end of 2011. If Congress doesn't extend them retroactively back to the beginning of this year, a typical middle-class family could face a $4,000 tax increase when it files its 2012 return in the spring, according to an analysis by H&R Block, the tax preparing giant.


Stocks move higher as budget talks progressNEW YORK (AP) _ Stocks rose on Wall Street as investors were encouraged by signs of progress in budget talks in Washington. Just two weeks remain before tax increases and government spending cuts take effect if no deal is reached. On the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, stock traders paused for a minute of silence at 9:15 a.m. EST to remember the 20 children and seven adults killed Friday in a gunman's rampage through a Connecticut elementary school.

Bangladesh probe: Fire sabotage, owner negligentDHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) _ A Bangladesh government committee investigating the garment factory fire that killed 112 people last month said in its findings Monday that the blaze was sabotage, probably by someone who worked there. But the panel said that no matter who set the fire, the owner of the factory also should be punished for the deaths because he neglected worker safety.

GM boosts pickup truck deals to shed inventoryDETROIT (AP) _ With Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra pickup trucks piling up on dealer lots, General Motors is offering generous deals to thin the stock. It's matching or beating discounts from rivals Ford and Chrysler, offering up to $9,000 off remaining 2012 models and close to $4,500 off 2013s. That, plus low interest rates, sweet lease deals and abundant financing, is good news for people in the market for a truck.

Tropicana uses the carrot to squeeze juice salesNEW YORK (AP) _ Tropicana wants more people to drink its juice, so it's extending a carrot _ and a bushel of other vegetables. As sugar-conscious Americans continue to shy away from fruit juices, Tropicana is using vegetables for the first time in recent history with a new drink called "Farmstand" set to hit shelves next month. By marketing the juice as a way for moms to sneak some veggies into their kids' diets, the division of PepsiCo Inc. is betting that carrots and beets can give it a new avenue for growth.

White House: Gun violence is complex problemWASHINGTON (AP) _ The White House says curbing gun violence is a complex problem that will require a "comprehensive solution" including addressing gun control measures. Still, spokesman Jay Carney says gun control is not the only solution to stopping shootings like the horrific attack at a Connecticut elementary school Friday. He says no single piece of legislation or single action will fully address the problem.

Mass. fines Morgan Stanley $5M over Facebook IPOBOSTON (AP) _ Morgan Stanley, the lead underwriter for Facebook's troubled public stock offering, has agreed to pay $5 million to Massachusetts' securities regulators after they accused it of disclosing a revenue shortfall only to certain analysts and not the general public. According to state regulators, a Morgan Stanley banker organized phone calls between Facebook's treasurer and the analysts of major underwriters to relay revenue figures that weren't included in revised documents Facebook Inc. filed with U.S. securities authorities on May 9, about a week before the initial public offering of stock.

Oil, gas drilling rile West's energy embraceCOLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) _ This used to be a land proud of its oil barons. Now the energy industry that has brought wealth and jobs across the interior West is prompting angry protests by citizens sporting gas masks and using bullhorns at public hearings. A generation after the fictional oil tycoons of the TV soap "Dynasty" gave Denver's oil and gas industry a glamorous sheen, the Rocky Mountain region appears to be questioning its romance with the industry. New drilling technology has moved oil and gas production from the sparsely populated plains, where oil rigs are embraced as job creators, closer to cities and suburbs. Now, conflicts are increasing along the populous eastern fringe of the Rockies.

Economists forecasting moderate 2013 growthWASHINGTON (AP) _ Business economists believe the country will see modest growth in 2013 with strength coming from a further rebound in housing which will help offset weakness in business investment. In its latest survey of top forecasters, the National Association for Business Economics says it is looking for the economy to grow in 2013 by 2.1 percent after 2.2 percent growth in 2012. That would continue the same tepid growth the country has seen since the Great Recession ended in mid-2009.

Sprint raises offer, to buy Clearwire for $2.2BNEW YORK (AP) _ Sprint, the country's third-largest cellphone company, said Monday that it will buy out the portion of wireless network operator Clearwire that it doesn't already own after raising its offer price to $2.2 billion. The deal would give Sprint control of a flailing affiliate, one it depends upon to provide high-speed "Sprint 4G" data services on some of its phones. It would increase Sprint's access to the airwaves, meaning it could boost data speeds in coming years. However, cell towers using Clearwire spectrum have poor range, making it difficult to provide broad coverage.

(c) 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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