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Wall Street futures edged lower Wednesday ahead of new employment and wholesale price data with the Federal Reserve gauging its next step in its fight to cool inflation. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrials slipped 0.4% and the S&P 500 fell 0.7% just over an hour before the opening bell. Stronger-than-expected economic data this week has dragged U.S. markets lower on the expectation that the Federal Reserve will be forced to remain aggressive with interest rates during its last policy meeting of 2022. This week, the Dow has fallen 2.4%, the S&P 3.2%, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite nearly 4%.

AP
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China’s imports and exports shrank in November under pressure from weakening global demand and anti-virus controls at home. Customs data showed exports sank 9% from a year earlier to $296.1 billion, worsening from October’s 0.9% decline. Imports fell 10.9% to $226.2 billion, down from the previous month’s 0.7% retreat. Chinese trade had been forecast to weaken as global demand cooled following interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve and central banks in Europe and Asia to rein in surging inflation. Chinese consumer demand has been hurt by anti-virus measures that shut down large sections of cities to contain virus outbreaks.

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With rising costs of goods and services, turning to “buy now, pay later” plans when you check out can be tempting. With no interest or fees, not to mention the predictability of installment plans, this option seems like a more ideal payment method than a credit card. But using these plans to simplify your finances may be hit or miss. When the road isn’t as smooth with a buy now, pay later plan, you might regret not having used a credit card if you had the option. Explore some ways credit cards can outperform buy now, pay later plans.

AP
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Stocks are mostly lower in Asia after Wall Street pulled back as surprisingly strong economic reports highlighted the difficulty of the Federal Reserve’s fight against inflation. Tokyo rose while other regional markets declined. U.S. futures gained and oil prices also advanced. The S&P 500 fell 1.8% Monday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 1.4% and the tech-heavy Nasdaq gave back 1.9%. Small-company stocks fell even more. The services sector, which makes up the biggest part of the U.S. economy, showed surprising growth in November. At the same time, markets have been lifted by expectations China will press ahead with easing its stringent pandemic restrictions, relieving pressures on trade, manufacturing and consumer spending.

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California could become the first state to fine big oil companies for making too much money. The proposal is a reaction to the oil industry's supersized profits following a summer of record-high gas prices in the nation's most populous state. Gov. Gavin Newsom and his Democratic allies in the state Legislature introduced the bill on Monday. But the proposal is missing key details. It does not say how much profit is too much or how much the fine would be for oil companies exceeding it. Newsom said those details would be sorted out after negotiations with the state Legislature.

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The Mississippi Department of Human Services is changing its demands against retired NFL quarterback Brett Favre in a lawsuit that seeks repayment of misspent welfare money. The funds were intended to help some of the poorest people in the U.S. The department dropped its demand of $1.1 million against Favre, acknowledging he has already repaid that money for an unfulfilled pledge of public speeches. But it made a new demand of up to $5 million against Favre and a university sports foundation, saying money from an anti-poverty program was improperly used to pay for a volleyball arena at the University of Southern Mississippi.

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This Sept. 16, 2022 photo shows the volleyball courts in the Wellness Center at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Miss. In a court filing on Monday, Dec. 5, 2022, the Mississippi Department of Human Services demanded that retired NFL quarterback Brett Favre and the University of Southern Mississippi repay millions of dollars of welfare money that went toward building the volleyball facility. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

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This Sept. 16, 2022 file photo shows the Wellness Center at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Miss. In a court filing on Monday, Dec. 5, 2022, the Mississippi Department of Human Services demanded that retired NFL quarterback Brett Favre and the University of Southern Mississippi repay millions of dollars of welfare money that went toward building the volleyball facility. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

AP
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Ukraine has won victories on the battlefield against Russia but faces a looming challenge on the economic front. The government has been relying on the central bank to print money to cover its huge deficits caused by the war. Tax revenue has fallen, and defense spending has soared for next year's budget. Kyiv is looking for ways to pay for its war effort at least through next year. By then, hopes are that a price cap on Russian oil sales will put Moscow on the economic defensive. Until then, Ukraine is turning to its allies for more money to avoid worsening inflation that hurts ordinary people.

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Worries about inflation weighed on Wall Street, leaving major indexes mixed after another bumpy day of trading. The S&P 500 fell 0.1% and the Nasdaq lost 0.2% after being down even more earlier in the day. The Dow ended slightly higher. A government report showing that wage growth accelerated last month spooked investors since it could mean the Federal Reserve will be less able to ease up on its fight against inflation. The yield on the two-year Treasury, which tends to track expectations for future Fed action, rose following the release of the report, which also showed that hiring was stronger than anticipated.