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Business News: Stimulus Scale Back?; Harvard Deeper in Debt; Michigan Apples

By: ap
By: ap
Credit: AP

Credit: AP

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Some economists say last month's strong hiring numbers probably won't be enough to get the Federal Reserve to scale back its bond-buying stimulus program when it meets in mid-December. But others say the job growth might prod the Fed to slow the stimulus soon.
The government says the economy added 204,000 jobs last month, and that far more jobs were created in August and September than had been estimated earlier. The unemployment rate rose to 7.3 percent from 7.2 percent, but it was likely because workers furloughed by the partial government shutdown were temporarily counted as unemployed.
The surge in jobs signals that many U.S. companies shrugged off the shutdown.
Job growth is a major factor for the Federal Reserve in deciding when to reduce its economic stimulus.
Patrick O'Keefe, head of economic research at CohnReznick, says the job growth isn't enough to get the Fed to end the stimulus program. He says, "It leaves them on hold for at least the next meeting." But Paul Ashworth of Capital Economics says the Fed would be justified in scaling back its bond purchases in December.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The government shutdown may have affected October's jobs numbers. But not how you think.
In the height of irony, the 16 days of federal worker furloughs and government disruptions may have helped, not hurt, the improved jobs picture.
Because of the shutdown, the Bureau of Labor Statistics delayed the release of the jobs numbers by one week to allow more time to collect payroll and household data. That extra time resulted in an above average response rate for payroll data.
A stronger participation rate can skew the hiring numbers up. As a result, to some economists, Friday's robust jobs number is looking slightly inflated.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Americans cut back on using their credit cards in September for the fourth straight month but boosted borrowing in the category that covers auto loans and student debt.
The Federal Reserve says consumers increased their borrowing by $13.7 billion in September to a seasonally adjusted $3.05 trillion. That is a record and follows a gain of $14.2 billion in August.
The increase was driven entirely by an increase in borrowing for auto and student loans, which rose $15.8 billion. Credit card debt fell $2.1 billion following a decline of $885 million in August.
The string of declines in credit card debt will likely hold back consumer spending, which accounts for 70 percent of economic growth.

NEW YORK (AP) -- Federal prosecutors want Bank of America pay about $864 million over losses incurred by the government after it bought thousands of home loans made by Countrywide Financial during the housing boom.
U.S. attorney Preet Bharara (Bah-RAH-Rah) made the request in documents filed late Friday with the U.S. District Court in Manhattan.
A jury last month found Bank of America Corp., which acquired Countrywide in 2008, liable for knowingly selling Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac thousands of bad home loans between August 2007 and May 2008.
Prosecutors asked the court to make the penalty on BofA equal to the maximum losses racked up by the government-run mortgage buyers.
Bank of America, based in Charlotte, N.C., says the U.S. is overstating the volume of loans and damages arising from the Countrywide program.

Harvard's deficit soars to $34 million
BOSTON (AP) -- Harvard University finance officials are pledging to manage costs better and pursue innovative revenue strategies after its deficit soared to $34 million in the most recent fiscal year, compared to a $7.9 million shortfall the previous year.
A financial report released Friday says the school saw revenues jump 5 percent to $4.2 billion, due largely to the increased annual distribution from its hefty $32.7 billion endowment.
Revenue also was bolstered by a 17 percent increase in gifts for current use, from $289 million in the previous fiscal year to $339 million in the most recent year.
Operating expenses for the nation's oldest school rose 6 percent to $4.2 billion. Benefits, wages and other compensation expenses accounted for about half of expenses.

Michigan growers trying to get apples to doze off
CENTRAL LAKE, Mich. (AP) -- Michigan's 2013 apple crop is expected to be one of the state's best in recent memory -- much better than last year's disastrously low output.
While the bounce-back is welcomed, it presents some challenges. One of them is maximizing storage to avoid flooding stores with apples, crashing the market and lowering growers' profits.
The answer just might lie in getting the fruit to go to sleep.
Growers, packers and processors are using a number of scientific techniques in order to keep the fruit fresh and flavorful for months to come.
Last month, the nation's third-largest apple producing state set back-to-back records for apple shipments.

DETROIT (AP) -- Attorneys have ended final arguments in a rare trial to determine whether Detroit can become the largest municipality to fix its finances in bankruptcy court.
The daylong remarks Friday for and against a Chapter 9 reorganization now will be sorted out by Judge Steven Rhodes. He could take days to make the decision.
Attorneys representing Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and Detroit's emergency manager argue that the July filing came after careful, deliberate planning. They say it was a last resort after all options had been exhausted.
But retirees, unions and pension funds say Snyder and emergency manager Kevyn Orr had their sights on bankruptcy for months and didn't engage in good-faith negotiations. That's a key step in a government bankruptcy.


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