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Strong economy does little to lift department store sales

NEW YORK (AP) Many investors had expected department stores to enjoy robust sales over the holidays in light of a U.S. economy buoyed by low unemployment, higher wages, strong consumer confidence and cheap gas. So when Macy's and Kohl's reported lackluster numbers on Thursday, they were taken aback, sending retail stocks into a tailspin and calling into question whether such mall-based chains can compete in a changing landscape.

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Powell repeats pledge to remain 'patient' with rate hikes

WASHINGTON (AP) Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell says the central bank has the ability to be "patient" and watch carefully to see how the economy evolves this year. Speaking to an audience in Washington, Powell on Wednesday delivered the same reassuring message of patience that had bolstered markets last Friday.

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Industrials lead US stocks higher again; Macy's nosedives

NEW YORK (AP) U.S. stocks finished higher for the fifth day in a row in uneven trading. Industrial companies rise following the latest round of trade talks between the U.S. and China while Macy's takes its biggest loss of all time after reporting weak holiday sales. Other retailers sink, while technology companies and high-dividend stocks rose.

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Auto industry troubles buffet Ford, Jaguar Land Rover

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) The headwinds buffeting the global auto industry made themselves felt in Europe as mass-market carmaker Ford and luxury-focused Jaguar Land Rover announced sweeping restructurings that will cost thousands of jobs. Ford Motor Co. said it will cutting an unspecified number of jobs in Europe as it seeks to make its business there more profitable, refocusing on commercial trucks and SUVs and dumping less lucrative models while shifting production to electric cars over the longer term.

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US apparel firm cuts off Chinese factory in internment camp

A leading U.S. supplier of sportswear to college bookstores says it will no longer do business with a Chinese manufacturer that has used workers from an internment camp for ethnic minorities. An Associated Press investigation found last month that the Chinese government was forcing some detainees to work in manufacturing and food production. The investigation tracked shipments from a Chinese factory to Badger Sportswear in North Carolina.

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US, China leave next steps for trade talks unclear

BEIJING (AP) The United States says talks on ending a bruising trade war focused on Chinese promises to buy more American goods. But it gave no indication of progress on resolving disputes over Beijing's technology ambitions and other thorny issues. China's Ministry of Commerce said the two sides would "maintain close contact." But neither side gave any indication of the next step during their 90-day cease-fire in a tariff fight that threatens to chill global economic growth.

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CES 2019: "Family tech" gadgets appeal to parental anxiety

LAS VEGAS (AP) The CES gadget show is full of new devices promising to make life a little bit easier for harried parents. There are artificially intelligent toys to keep kids occupied, educate them and get them to brush their teeth without parental nagging. A common thread among the gadgets showcased in Las Vegas this week is an appeal to parental anxiety.

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Liberals dare Trump to back their bills lowering drug prices

WASHINGTON (AP) Leading congressional liberals are unveiling a package of bills that aims to reduce what Americans pay for prescription drugs by linking prices to lower costs in other countries. Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders and Maryland Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings plan to introduce three bills Thursday. A major idea would open up generic competition to brand-name drugs deemed "excessively priced." The package echoes some themes sounded by President Donald Trump but rejected by most Republicans.

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Fiat Chrysler reaches settlement in emissions cheating cases

WASHINGTON (AP) Fiat Chrysler has agreed to pay hundreds of millions of dollars, including a $300 million fine to the U.S. government, to settle allegations that it cheated on emissions tests. Under a deal with the Justice Department and the Environmental Protection Agency, the Italian-American automaker also will recall and repair the more than 104,000 Jeep SUVs and Ram pickup trucks that are not in compliance. Fiat Chrysler has not admitted any wrongdoing.

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Treasury chief: No sanctions relief for Russian oligarch

WASHINGTON (AP) Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin plans to tell lawmakers in a classified briefing that the Trump administration will keep strict U.S. sanctions on the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. Democrats asked Mnuchin to brief the House about the U.S. agreement to lift sanctions on three companies that Deripaska has owned or controlled. In a statement released ahead of the briefing Thursday, Mnuchin reiterated that Deripaska and his companies will remain under sanctions.

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The S&P 500 index added 11.68 points, or 0.5 percent, to 2,596.64. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 122.80 points, or 0.5 percent, to 24,001.92. The Nasdaq composite rose 28.99 points, or 0.4 percent, to 6,986.07. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks picked up 6.63 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,445.43.

U.S. crude added 0.4 percent to $52.59 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the international standard, slid 0.4 percent to $61.68 a barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline added 0.4 percent to $1.43 a gallon and heating oil rose 1.3 percent to $1.91 a gallon. Natural gas dipped 0.5 percent to $2.97 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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