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AP Top Business News At 4 a.m. EST

Auto industry acts globally _ except on recalls
DETROIT (AP) -- When it comes to making and selling cars, the auto industry thinks and acts globally: There is near-seamless coordination between parts suppliers, factories and dealerships....

Sony broadly releases 'The Interview' in reversal of plans
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Amid a swell of controversy, backlash, confusion and threats, Sony Pictures broadly released "The Interview" online Wednesday - an unprecedented counterstroke against the hackers who spoiled the Christmas opening of the comedy depicting the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un....

Who hacked Sony becomes Internet's new mystery
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Everyone has a theory about who really hacked Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc....

NKorea outage a case study in online uncertainties
LONDON (AP) -- North Korea's microscopic corner of the Internet has had a rough couple of days, suffering seven outages in 48 hours, according to one Web traffic monitor....

US stocks eke out gains in abbreviated trading day
Major U.S. stock indexes ended mostly higher on Wednesday, with the Dow Jones industrial average adding modestly to its gains a day after closing above 18,000 for the first time....

More 'Help Wanted' signs up at small businesses
NEW YORK (AP) -- If you're looking for signs that the U.S. economy is growing and that the job market is improving, just talk to small business owners....

Unions make push to recruit protected immigrants
CHICAGO (AP) -- Unions across the U.S. are reaching out to immigrants affected by President Barack Obama's recent executive action, hoping to expand their dwindling ranks by recruiting millions of workers who entered the U.S. illegally....

Applications for US jobless aid fall to 7-week low
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits has reached its lowest level in seven weeks, a sign that the U.S. economy and job market are steadily improving....

Citigroup to sell Japan retail bank unit to SMBC
TOKYO (AP) -- Citigroup has agreed to sell its retail banking business in Japan to Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp., the companies said Thursday....

Russia in offer to help firms with foreign debts
MOSCOW (AP) -- With inflation showing clear signs of picking up, Russia's central bank said Wednesday it will look to help companies with their foreign debts - a move it hopes will ease the pressure on the national currency....

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Figures on government spending and debt

US stocks eke out gains in abbreviated trading day

More 'Help Wanted' signs up at small businesses

MF Global Holdings to pay $1.21B in restitution

How the Dow Jones industrial average fared Wednesday

Taser and Walgreen are big market movers

Air bag maker Takata shuffles top management

US stocks move higher in abbreviated trading day

Average US 30-year mortgage edges up slightly

Auto industry acts globally _ except on recalls