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Nov 27, 4:48 PM EST

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Super Bowl of shopping starts

NEW YORK - The Super Bowl of shopping had an early start again this year, but the game isn't over yet.

Early numbers aren't out yet on how many shoppers headed to stores on Thanksgiving. But it's expected that more than three times the number of people who shopped on Thanksgiving will venture out to shop on the day after the holiday known as Black Friday.

Overall, the National Retail Federation expected about 30 million to shop on Thanksgiving, compared with 99.7 million on Black Friday. Overall, the trade group estimates about 135.8 million people will be shopping during the four-day weekend, compared with 133.7 million last year. And it expects sales overall for November and December to rise 3.7 percent to $630.5 billion compared with the same period last year.


Ferrari hometown overwhelmed by roar of test-driving fans

MARANELLO, Italy (AP) - In the streets of Maranello, the hometown of Ferrari, the roar of the famed sports car is no longer the occasional bragging right of a proud new owner, but a constant backdrop as a number of test-drive businesses give would-be Schumachers the chance to rev up and peel out.

The howl of engines is disturbing residents' tranquility - including the afternoon siestas - and the risk of speeding cars is a safety concern, say city officials, who have started cracking down on the businesses. With 37 super cars available for test drives in a city of 17,000, complaints have been mounting.


3 Chinese brokerages say they are under investigation

BEIJING (AP) - Three of China's biggest securities firms are under investigation in a fresh aftershock from this summer's market plunge.

Shares in Citic Securities Ltd. and Guosen Securities Ltd. fell Friday by the 10 percent daily limit after both said they were being probed by regulators. A third brokerage, Haitong Securities Ltd., issued a similar announcement after trading in its shares was suspended Friday morning. None gave details.

Authorities have detained securities executives, an investment fund manager, government employees and a reporter for a business magazine following the collapse in prices that began in early June. The announcements that brokerages themselves were under investigation represented a further widening of the probes.


Produce in Costco salad linked to E. coli is being recalled

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Federal officials say a business is recalling a vegetable mix believed to be the source of E.coli in Costco chicken salad that has been linked to an outbreak that has sickened 19 people in seven states.

Taylor Farms Pacific Inc. of Tracy, California, has recalled a mix of diced celery and onion used in Costco chicken salad and other foods containing celery "out of an abundance of caution," the Food and Drug Administration said in a statement Thursday.

The foods range from Thai-style salads to packaged dinners and wraps, and they are sold at Costco, Target, Starbucks and many other outlets, the FDA said.


Local free community college plans may be template for US

CHICAGO (AP) - An economic engine. A jumpstart for lower-income students. A partnership with businesses to groom a workforce. The idea of free community college has been touted as all these, by President Barack Obama, Democratic presidential candidates, and some Republicans.

The idea is to curb student debt and boost employment by removing cost barriers. Educators are split on its merits, with some worrying the push could divert students away from four-year schools. And some proposals could cost taxpayers tens of billions of dollars, and may still leave students with debt.

But thousands of high school graduates have just started community college for free, with the first batch enrolled in independent first-year programs in Tennessee, Chicago and soon Oregon doing so under different price tags and philosophies - offering templates of how a federal program might look and potential glitches.


Japan plans extra budget, handouts, to pump up recovery

TOKYO (AP) - Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has ordered Cabinet ministers to prepare an extra spending package, including cash handouts for the poorest pensioners, seeking to breathe fresh life into Japan's stalling recovery.

The amount of the supplementary budget has not been decided, the chief government spokesman, Yoshihide Suga, said Friday after the Cabinet met.

Local media said the package will likely exceed 3 trillion yen ($24.5 billion) and will be prepared in December, for approval early in the new year.


Survey shows German consumers losing confidence

BERLIN (AP) - A closely-watched survey shows German consumers are losing confidence amid growing concerns of an economic slump.

The GfK research group said Friday its forward-looking consumer climate index dropped for the fourth month in a row to 9.3 points in December, from 9.4 in November.

GfK says consumers' willingness to buy rose, but that was offset by drops in both their income and economic expectations, partially linked to the growing number of asylum seekers pouring into the country.


By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average gave up 14.90 points, or 0.1 percent, to 17,798.49. The Standard & Poor's 500 index picked up 1.24 points, or less than 0.1 percent, to 2,090.11. The Nasdaq composite index added 11.38 points, or 0.2 percent, to 5,127.52.

Benchmark U.S. crude fell $1.33, or 3.1 percent, to $41.71 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, gave up 60 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $44.86 a barrel in London.

Wholesale gasoline fell 0.6 cents to $1.391 a gallon. Heating oil fell 5 cents, or 3.6 percent, to $1.352 a gallon. Natural gas tumbled 8.7 cents, or 3.8 percent, to $2.212 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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