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Associated Press

Posted on January 4, 2013 at 6:02 PM

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Tiny Chevrolet Sonic helps Detroit shake off rust

DETROIT (AP) — When the word reached the Orion Assembly Plant, it spread along the serpentine assembly line like news of a death or natural disaster: General Motors, the biggest automaker in the world, had filed for bankruptcy protection.

On that grim day in 2009, Chevrolet and Pontiac sedans kept rolling down the line. And 1,700 worried workers stayed at their stations even as GM announced it would close the plant in a desperate bid to survive.

There was something else that the workers didn't know: They were witnessing the opening act of one of the greatest recovery stories in American business.

Nearly four years later, Chevrolets are still moving down the assembly line under the plant's 82-acre roof. Lang and his co-workers now build the Sonic, the best-selling subcompact car in the nation. It's a vehicle no one thought could be made profitably in the U.S., by a company that few people thought would last.

But GM has not only survived, it has earned $16 billion in profits in the past three years. And the industry is on track to make this year its best year since 2007.

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US economy adds 155,000 jobs; rate remains 7.8 pct.

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. employers added 155,000 jobs in December, a steady gain that shows hiring held up during the tense negotiations to resolve the fiscal cliff.

The solid job growth wasn't enough to reduce the unemployment rate, which remained 7.8 percent last month, the Labor Department said Friday. The rate for November was revised up from an initially reported 7.7 percent.

Each January, the government updates the monthly unemployment rates for the previous five years. The rates for most months don't change.

The government said hiring was stronger in November than it first estimated. November's job increases were revised up 15,000 to 161,000. October's increase was nearly unchanged at 137,000.

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FDA proposes sweeping new food safety rules

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Food and Drug Administration on Friday proposed the most sweeping food safety rules in decades, requiring farmers and food companies to be more vigilant in the wake of deadly outbreaks in peanuts, cantaloupe and leafy greens.

The long-overdue regulations are aimed at reducing the estimated 3,000 deaths a year from foodborne illness. Just since last summer, outbreaks of listeria in cheese and salmonella in peanut butter, mangoes and cantaloupe have been linked to more than 400 illnesses and as many as seven deaths, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The actual number of those sickened is likely much higher.

The FDA's proposed rules would require farmers to take new precautions against contamination, to include making sure workers' hands are washed, irrigation water is clean, and that animals stay out of fields. Food manufacturers will have to submit food safety plans to the government to show they are keeping their operations clean.

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'McDreamy' says he beat Starbucks for coffee chain

SEATTLE (AP) — "Grey's Anatomy" star Patrick Dempsey may be the real "McSteamy."

The actor, who was dubbed "McDreamy" by fans of the hospital drama while his co-star affectionately has been called "McSteamy," won a bankruptcy auction to buy Tully's Coffee, a small coffee chain based in Seattle.

Among those Dempsey beat out is Tully's much bigger Seattle neighbor, Starbucks Corp., which wanted to convert the cafes to its own brand.

Dempsey, whose company Global Baristas LLC plans to keep the Tully's name, declared victory on the social media site Twitter with the message: "We met the green monster, looked her in the eye, and...SHE BLINKED! We got it! Thank you Seattle!

But Starbucks says not so fast. The chain, which has 18,000 cafes worldwide, said in a statement that a final determination on the winning bid won't be made until a court hearing on Jan. 11. Starbucks said it's in a "back-up" position" to buy 25 of the 47 Tully's cafes, with another undisclosed bidder making an offer for the remainder.

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Congress approves $9.7 billion in Sandy flood aid

WASHINGTON (AP) — The new Congress has passed a $9.7 billion bill to help pay flood insurance claims to homeowners, renters and businesses damaged by Superstorm Sandy.

The bill cleared the Senate following passage earlier Friday by the House. It replenishes the National Flood Insurance Program that was due to run out of money next week with some 115,000 Sandy-related claims as well as 5,000 from other floods unresolved.

The late October storm ravaged the coast from North Carolina to Maine, with the worst flooding occurring in New York City and its suburbs, Atlantic City, N.J., along the Connecticut coastline. Votes are planned later this month on another $51 billion aid package. The government already has spent more than $2 billion as part of the emergency response to the storm.

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Army Corps tamps down barge worries on Mississippi

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Efforts taken to keep a crucial stretch of the drought-starved Mississippi River open to barge traffic should be sufficient to avert a shipping shutdown that the industry fears is imminent, Army Corps of Engineers and Coast Guard officials said Friday.

The corps said crews in recent weeks have made "fantastic" progress clearing treacherous bedrock from a channel about 150 miles south of St. Louis near Thebes, Ill. — the portion of the river that has grown especially worrisome to barge operators moving an array of cargo to northern states and south to the Gulf of Mexico.

Shipping groups warned this week that the waterway there could drop to a point — 3 feet on the river gauge — in which barge weight restrictions would have to be further tightened, effectively halting shipping.

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New search engine tailors its results for tablets

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The makers of Blekko believe they've built a great alternative to Google, but they're also realistic. They know their two-year-old Internet search engine won't ever supplant Google as the most popular place to search on laptop and desktop computers.

But Web surfing on tablet computers is a different matter, creating an opportunity that Blekko hopes to exploit with a new product called Izik — a search engine designed especially for Apple Inc.'s iPads and tablets running Google's Android software.

Izik, whose name is a riff on 17th-century scientist Isaac Newton, debuted Friday with the release of free apps for the iPad and Android tablets.

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PNC Bank taking steps to prevent cyber attacks

NEW YORK (AP) — PNC Bank has warned customers its websites are getting hit with high traffic consistent with computer attacks.

In an email sent to nearly 5 million customers, PNC Bank says the traffic is meant to cause delays for legitimate online banking customers. It says other banks are experiencing similar traffic spikes but did not identify them.

PNC Bank says that for several weeks it has worked to block the traffic and maintain online and mobile banking access for the vast majority of its customers. The company says it may have blocked access for a small percentage of its legitimate customers for an extended period.

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Lilly 2013 profit forecast tops expectations

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Eli Lilly and Co. unveiled a better-than-expected 2013 earnings forecast Friday, in part because the pharmaceutical company expects growth from several established drugs to help make up for revenue lost to generic competition.

The Indianapolis drug developer saw sales for its all-time best-selling drug, the antipsychotics Zyprexa, crater in 2012 after it lost U.S. patent protection. Lilly will take another hit next December when it loses patent protection for its current top seller, the antidepressant Cymbalta.

But company executives told analysts Friday they still expect Cymbalta and another product that loses patent protection in 2013, the insulin Humalog, to help drive revenue growth along with products like the cancer treatment Alimta and the erectile dysfunction drug Cialis.

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GM recalls nearly 69,000 vehicles worldwide

DETROIT (AP) — General Motors is recalling nearly 69,000 pickup trucks, SUVs and vans worldwide because they can roll away unexpectedly.

The recall affects certain 2013 models of the Chevrolet Silverado, Suburban, Tahoe, Avalanche and Express. Also included are the GMC Sierra, Savana and Yukon as well as the Cadillac Escalade.

GM says the vehicles may have been built with faulty park lock cables or malformed steering column lock gears. The vehicles can be shifted out of park even if the ignition key is in the off position or removed. GM says about one in 1,000 of the vehicles has the problem, and most haven't been sold yet.

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By The Associated Press(equals)

The Dow Jones industrial average finished 43.85 points higher at 13,435.21. The Nasdaq closed up 1.09 point at 3,101.66. The S&P 500 finished up 7.10 points at 1,466.47.

Benchmark crude for February delivery closed up 17 cents at $93.09 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international varieties of oil, finished 83 cents lower at $111.31 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

Wholesale gasoline lost 3 cents to end at $2.76 a gallon. Heating oil fell less than a penny to finish at $3.02 a gallon. Natural gas rose 9 cents to end at $3.29 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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