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A growing number of American shoppers have jumped at the chance to use “buy now, pay later” loans to pay for new sneakers, electronics, or luxury goods in installments. Companies such as Affirm, Afterpay, Klarna and PayPal have built popular financial products around these short-term loans, particularly for younger borrowers, who are fearful of never-ending credit card debt. But as the industry continues to rack up customers, delinquencies are climbing.  Inflation is squeezing consumers, making it tougher to pay off debts. Some borrowers don’t budget properly, particularly if they are persuaded to take out multiple loans, while others may have been credit risks to begin with.

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When it came time to showcase its electric Chevrolet Equinox SUV to the public this year, General Motors decided against doing so at the big Detroit auto show, as it typically would have done in the past. Instead, it unveiled the Equinox six days earlier. GM’s decision symbolized just how much smaller this year’s auto show will be, with few new model debuts, less-glitzy displays, fewer journalists and possibly lower attendance. Though the pandemic is partly to blame, larger forces are at play, too: Automakers have figured out that new models can make a bigger splash when they’re unveiled to a digital audience on a day where they don’t have to share the spotlight with their rivals.

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Stocks closed broadly higher on Wall Street, breaking a three-week losing streak. The benchmark S&P 500 index rose 1.5% on Friday, but is still well below where it was in mid-August. Big gains for technology companies pushed the Nasdaq composite even higher. The Dow Jones Industrial Average also climbed, as did small-company stocks. All 11 industry sectors of the S&P 500 rose, including energy stocks, which caught a break from recent declines thanks to an upturn in oil prices. DocuSign rose sharply after the electronic signature company reported strong second-quarter sales and raised its subscription forecast.

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The escape of the Malaysian defense contractor at the center of one of the Navy's biggest corruption scandals is as stunning and brazen as the case itself. U-Haul trucks were seen at his home in a tony San Diego neighborhood before Leonard Glenn Francis, known as “Fat Leonard,” snipped off his ankle monitor and disappeared. Nearly a dozen US federal, state and local agencies were searching for Francis on Tuesday. But officials acknowledged he may already be in Mexico with the border only a 40-minute drive from the home he escaped.

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Microsoft’s plan to buy video game giant Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion could have major effects on the gaming industry, transforming the Xbox maker into something like a Netflix for video games by giving it control of many more popular titles. But to get to the next level, Microsoft must first survive a barrage of government inquiries from New Zealand to Brazil, and from U.S. regulators emboldened by President Joe Biden to strengthen their enforcement of antitrust laws. In the United Kingdom, regulators on Thursday threatened to escalate their investigation unless both companies come up with proposals soon to ease competition concerns.

AP
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Asian shares are trading mostly lower, tracking the broad slide on Wall Street, as investors braced for higher interest rates and inflation worries for some time. Benchmarks fell in Tokyo, Sydney, South Korea and Hong Kong in early trading, but edged up slightly in Shanghai. The slide in the Nikkei came despite signs of improvement in the Japanese economy. A Finance Ministry study on corporate financial statements for April-June showed a 17.6% improvement from the previous year. Stocks closed lower on Wall Street.

BELLOWS FALLS — It’s a frustrated solid. It’s not a liquid. It’s not a solid. It’s a frozen, crystalline structure that never actually gets a …