Business Highlights

By The Associated Press

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Measure of US home prices rises most in 6 years

WASHINGTON (AP) — A measure of U.S. home prices jumped 5 percent in September compared with a year ago, the largest year-over-year increase since July 2006. The gain reported by CoreLogic offered more evidence of a sustainable housing recovery.

The real estate data provider also said Tuesday that prices declined 0.3 percent in September from August, the first drop after six straight increases. The monthly figures are not seasonally adjusted. CoreLogic says the monthly decline reflects the end of the summer home-buying season and not a softening in the housing recovery.

Steady price increases should give the housing market more momentum when home sales pick up in the spring. Rising prices encourage more homeowners to sell their homes and entice would-be buyers to purchase homes before prices rise further.

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Stocks rise as investors wait for a winner

NEW YORK (AP) — Major stock-market indexes climbed Tuesday as investors waited for the finish of a closely fought U.S. presidential election.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 133.24 points to close at 13,245.68.

Companies that investors believe would benefit under a potential Romney administration surged ahead. They included United Technologies and Boeing, which do substantial business with the Defense Department.

Four financial companies — Travelers, American Express, JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America — ranked among the 10 biggest gainers in the 30-stock Dow average.

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Strike hits Greece in bid to derail austerity plan

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greek trade unions launched a general strike and nationwide protests on Tuesday against a new package of austerity measures, to be voted on this week, which would condemn Greece to more years of hardship in exchange for rescue loans.

Flights to and from the country stopped for three hours at the start of a 48-hour strike that closed schools, halted train and ferry services, and left Athens without public transport or taxis while state hospitals ran with emergency staff.

More than 35,000 people marched in two separate demonstrations in Athens organized by labor unions. Another 20,000 gathered to protest in the country's second largest city of Thessaloniki.

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Sandy knocks off big chunk of retail sales

NEW YORK (AP) — Superstorm Sandy knocked nearly $4 billion off of retail sales last week in the hard-hit Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions, nearly 20 percent of the usual total, according to figures released Tuesday by a retail data service.

MasterCard Advisors' SpendingPulse said Tuesday that the regions, which account for about 24 percent of retail sales nationwide, typically generate $18.7 billion in sales for the week ended Saturday. But revenue came in at about $15 billion, excluding auto sales.

That dragged down the nationwide sales total for the week ended Saturday. Retailers typically generate $78 billion in sales for that particular week. McNamara estimates the total was about $74 billion.

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US employers post fewest jobs in 5 months

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. employers posted fewer job openings in September after advertising more in August than first estimated. The report suggests hiring will likely remain modest in the coming months.

The Labor Department said Tuesday that job openings dropped by 100,000 to 3.56 million, the fewest in five months. August's openings were revised up to 3.66 million.

The number of available jobs has jumped about 63 percent since July 2009, one month after the recession ended. It remains well below the more than 4 million jobs a month advertised before the recession began in December 2007.

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Freddie Mac posts $2.9 billion net income for Q3

WASHINGTON (AP) — Mortgage giant Freddie Mac earned $2.9 billion from July through September, its fourth straight profitable quarter. The government-controlled company attributed the gain to rising home prices and fewer mortgage delinquencies.

Freddie said Tuesday that it paid a dividend of $1.8 billion to the U.S. Treasury and requested no additional federal aid.

The increase compared with a loss of $4.4 billion for the same quarter of 2011. It also marked the sixth quarter in which Freddie sought no additional aid since being taken over by the government in September 2008.

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CVS Caremark 3Q profit up 16 percent as sales rise

CVS Caremark Corp. said Tuesday that its third-quarter earnings climbed 16 percent. The drugstore operator and pharmacy benefits manager posted revenue increases in both businesses, benefiting from new customers won from rivals. It also raised its full-year earnings outlook.

The Woonsocket, R.I., company said it earned $1.01 billion, or 79 cents per share, in the three months that ended Sept. 30. That compares with earnings of $868 million, or 65 cents per share, in last year's quarter. Adjusted earnings were 85 cents per share, 2 cents better than analysts expected. That excluded $121 million for the gradual write down of acquisition-related assets.

Revenue jumped 13 percent to $30.2 billion, above the $30.09 billion analysts expected.

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News Corp 1Q earnings beat Street; revenue close

NEW YORK (AP) — News Corp. said Tuesday that net income for the latest quarter tripled from a year ago, reflecting a one-time gain from the sale of its stake in digital video technology company NDS. Revenue rose 2 percent thanks to growth at pay TV networks such as Fox News Channel.

The company controlled by CEO Rupert Murdoch said that fiscal first-quarter net income came to $2.23 billion, or 94 cents per share, compared with $738 million, or 28 cents per share, a year ago.

Excluding about $1.38 billion in special gains, largely due to the NDS sale, adjusted earnings came to 43 cents per share, beating the 37 cents per share expected by analysts, according to FactSet.

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France to give businesses $25 billion tax break

PARIS (AP) — The French government has promised €20 billion ($25 billion) in tax credits to businesses as part of a "competitiveness pact" that it hopes will spark innovation and lower unemployment, but falls short of calls in a recent report for a "shock" to the economy.

The announcement of the plan Tuesday came a day after a government-commissioned report — by Louis Gallois, former head of Airbus parent EADS — said the country's ailing economy needed a big kick to stay globally competitive.

Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said the government's plan, which includes a €500 million fund to help struggling small businesses, would put the country "back at the heart of the world economy."

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By The Associated Press(equals)

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 133.24 points to close at 13,245.68. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 11.13 points to 1,428.39, while the Nasdaq composite index gained 12.27 points to 3,011.93.

Benchmark crude rose $3.06, or 3.6 percent, to finish at $88.71 in New York. Brent crude, used to price international varieties of oil, surged $3.34, or 3.1 percent, to $111.07 in London.

Wholesale gasoline rose 8 cents to $2.70 a gallon. Heating oil rose 7 cents to $3.05 a gallon. Natural gas rose 6 cents $3.62 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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