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Business Briefs

Exxon at Hatton reopens

HATTON — The Exxon station at Alabama 157 and Alabama 101 reopened this week under new ownership and a new look.

“We’ve added diesel fuel,” said Jimmy Tucker, a partner with Brandon Fretwell in purchasing the business, which remains a full service station. Luther Masterson ran the station for 34 years before closing Oct. 20.

“A lot of our customers are local farmers,” Tucker said. “It used to be they’d bring their tractors to be worked on and had to go somewhere else to get their diesel.”

Tucker, a mechanic who worked for Masterson for about 10 years, retained Kevin Poole, a 20-year mechanic at the station.

Ronnie Thomas

Tech stocks make a U-turn

SAN FRANCISCO — Technology stocks made an abrupt U-turn Thursday, reducing the gains that had been piling up as investors sought refuge from the lending and housing morass weighing on the U.S. economy.

Intenet networking supplier Cisco Systems Inc. took one of the biggest beatings after its chief executive, John Chambers, warned that weakening demand among major customers, including banks saddled with huge loan losses, would probably slow Cisco’s growth.

Thursday’s comedown was widespread, pulling down even high-tech stars like online search leader Google Inc. and iPod maker Apple Inc., whose stocks had been leaping from one new peak to another for months.

Shopping outlook bleak

NEW YORK — The outlook for the holiday shopping season grew bleaker Thursday after retailers announced disappointing October sales results due to consumers’ ongoing worries about housing and higher energy prices.

The downbeat news came from all sectors including mall-based apparel stores like Limited Brands Inc. and department stores like Macy’s Inc. Even upscale Nordstrom Inc. posted a rare sales decline while Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world’s largest retailer, posted sales below expectations despite its aggressive discounting heading into the holidays.

Warehouse club operators including Costco Wholesale Corp. and BJ’s Wholesale Club Inc. were among the few standouts, a sign that consumers are searching for lower prices.

Gas prices continue to rise

NEW YORK — Oil futures ended a turbulent session lower Thursday after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke issued a warning about economic growth that sent stocks tumbling and tempered some of the energy market’s supply concerns.

Gasoline prices, meanwhile, rose further above $3 a gallon at the pump in response to crude prices, which have soared 42 percent since August.

Overnight, the national average price of a gallon of gas rose 1.8 cents to $3.061, according to AAA and the Oil Price Information Service.

Ford shows improvement

DEARBORN, Mich. — Ford Motor Co. posted a third-quarter loss of $380 million Thursday, a vast improvement over its $5.2 billion loss a year earlier.

Although the performance was worse than its second-quarter profit of $750 million, Ford still was in the black for the year and its executives said a turnaround plan is taking hold.

The second-biggest U.S-based automaker also said it is near a deal to sell its Jaguar and Land Rover units but its CEO said there are no plans to sell its Volvo business.

The latest results beat Wall Street expectations, and its shares edged up 24 cents, or 2.9 percent, to $8.48 Thursday.

Disney: Net profit up 12 %

LOS ANGELES — Net profit rose 12 percent at The Walt Disney Co. in the fourth quarter, led by growth at its ESPN cable channel, more visitors at theme parks, and increased sales of consumer products, the media conglomerate reported Thursday.

Disney reported net income of $877 million, or 44 cents per share, for the quarter ended Sept. 29, compared with $782 million, or 36 cents per share, for the year-ago period.

Earnings benefited from a 2 cents per share gain related to prior-year income tax matters. Without the one-time item, earnings for the quarter were 42 cents per share.

Compiled From Wire Reports

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