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Business Highlights

The Associated Press

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Jittery Wall Street has a lot ahead to be nervous about

NEW YORK (AP) -- One recent characteristic of the stock market is that every day can feel like bedlam. Investors have been careening from fear to relief and back again depending on the latest news. More tests of the market's mettle lie ahead, with U.S.-China trade talks, the fourth-quarter earnings period and another Federal Reserve meeting on the horizon.

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Stocks climb on trade talks and encouraging economic report

NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks rise again on Wall Street following another encouraging signal on the economy, this time on growth in service-sector companies, and as the U.S. and China begin a new round of trade talks. Retailers made big gains, as did technology and health care companies. Amazon surpassed Microsoft to become the most valuable publicly-traded company. California utility PG&E plunged after Reuters reported that the company might file for bankruptcy as it faces big liabilities related to wildfires.

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Amazon emerges as most valuable US firm amid market turmoil

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Amazon has eclipsed Microsoft as the most valuable publicly traded company in the U.S. as a see-sawing stock market continues to reshuffle corporate America's pecking order. The shift occurred Monday after Amazon's shares rose 3 percent to close at $1,629.51 and lifted the e-commerce leader's market value to $797 billion.

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World Bank President Jim Yong Kim announces his departure

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Jim Young Kim, the president of the World Bank, says he is stepping down at the end of January. Kim's unexpected departure, nearly three years before his term was set to expire, is likely to set off a fierce battle between the Trump administration and other countries who have complained about the influence the United States exerts over the World Bank. The 189-nation World Bank is the largest government source for development funding, providing low-cost loans for projects around the world.

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US-China trade talks start amid cooling economic growth

BEIJING (AP) -- Talks are underway in Beijing between U.S. and Chinese officials in a bid to end a trade battle between the world's two biggest economies. Both sides expressed optimism about the potential for progress, but the meetings began amid Chinese complaints over the sighting of a U.S. warship in waters that Beijing says belong to China. It's unclear whether the issue might disrupt the talks. The talks went ahead despite tensions over the arrest of a Chinese tech executive in Canada on U.S. charges.

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Home items are getting smarter and creepier, like it or not

NEW YORK (AP) -- The CES gadget show will showcase internet-connected "smarts" creeping into cars, refrigerators, thermostats and just about everything else in your home. That includes an oven that coordinates your recipes and a toilet that flushes with a voice command. With every additional smart device in your home, companies are able to gather more details about your daily life. Companies say they are building these products not for snooping but for convenience. The CES show opens Tuesday.

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Trump official says tax refunds will go out on time

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A Trump administration official says that tax refunds will go out on time during the partial government shutdown. With the shutdown in its third week there had been mounting concerns over an IRS delay in sending refunds. But Russell Vought, acting director of the White House budget office, says customary rules will be changed to make funding available to pay them. He told reporters Monday that refunds will go out as normal..

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Chinese tech firms lay lower at CES 2019 amid trade tensions

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- The annual CES gadget show has become a demonstration of China's rapidly growing technology might. But some Chinese firms are stepping back from the spotlight as the 2019 show kicks off Sunday in Las Vegas. Chinese firms account for more than a quarter of the conference's 4,500 exhibitors, but the number of small entrepreneurs buying up booth space has declined. Some big names are still attending but taking a more subdued approach.

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US service firms grew at slower pace in December

WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. service firms grew in December at the slowest pace in five months, an indication that various headwinds from turbulent markets to trade tensions could be having an impact on economic activity. The Institute for Supply Management, which is composed of purchasing managers, says that its service index fell to 57.6 percent last month, down from a November reading of 60.7 percent. Any reading above 50 signals growth.

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The S&P 500 added 17.75 points, or 0.7 percent, to 2,549.69. The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 98.19 points, or 0.4 percent, to 23,531.35. The Nasdaq gained 84.61 points, or 1.3 percent, to 6,823.47. The Russell 2000 jumped 24.62 points, or 1.8 percent, to 1,405.37.

U.S. crude rose 1.2 percent to $48.52 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 0.5 percent to $57.33 per barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline dipped 0.5 percent to $1.34 a gallon and heating oil rose 0.5 percent to $1.78 a gallon. Natural gas slipped 3.3 percent to $2.94 per 1,000 cubic feet.