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Gap reports higher profit, sticks to forecast

(Reuters) - Gap Inc <GPS.N> on Thursday reported a better-than-expected 9 percent rise in profit, helped by modest sales gains, and stuck to its profit forecast for the year. The upcoming holiday season is expected to be tough for retailers as U.S. shoppers plan to spend less and are demanding big bargains. Retailers from Macy's Inc <M.N> to Wal-Mart Stores Inc <WMT.N> are responding with massive discounts, which are likely to hurt margins.

Nearly 80,000 Californians sign up for Obamacare plans

(Reuters) - Nearly 80,000 Californians have enrolled in private health insurance plans through the state's exchange marketplace created under President Barack Obama's healthcare law, the Covered California exchange said on Thursday. The latest data, which charts enrollment from the October 1 start through November 19, means that about 20,000 more people signed up for plans since the exchange's initial update on its enrollment released November 13.

Fed's Lacker: must defend inflation goal from both sides

ASHEBORO, North Carolina (Reuters) - The U.S. Federal Reserve must make sure inflation does not get too far either below or above its 2 percent goal, Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker said on Thursday. "We must defend our goal from both sides," he said during a question-and-answer session after a speech. Lacker, who has a reputation for being tough on inflation, said it would be appropriate for the U.S. central bank to start scaling back its asset purchases between December and March.

Laird names former Logica CEO Read as chairman-elect

(Reuters) - Electronic-components maker Laird Plc said it had appointed Martin Read, former CEO of Logica, as chairman-elect of the group. Laird, which supplied antennae for the wireless system of Virgin Media Inc installed in the London Underground for the 2012 London Olympics, said Read will replace Nigel Keen, who is retiring, at the next AGM on May 2, 2014.

Yellen clears key Senate hurdle to become next Fed chair

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Senate Banking Committee on Thursday approved Janet Yellen's nomination to become the first woman to lead the Federal Reserve, sending it to the full Senate for a final vote. If confirmed, as is widely expected, the current number two at the central bank will replace its chairman, Ben Bernanke, when his term expires on January 31, making her the most powerful woman in world finance. The vote was 14 in favor and 8 against. (Reporting By Alister Bull and Margaret Chadbourn)

Manufacturing rebounds in November to 8-month high: Markit

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Manufacturing rebounded this month after hitting a one-year low in October and output grew at its fastest pace in nine months, an industry report showed on Thursday. The overall pace of improvement in the goods-producing sector remained modest, though, and hiring in November slowed. Financial data firm Markit said its "flash," or preliminary, U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index rose to 54.3, an eight-month high, from 51.8 in October. November's reading comfortably beat economists' estimate of 52.4.

Fed's Dudley says job growth not as strong as desired

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Recent growth in the U.S. job market has been "ok" but not as strong as the Federal Reserve would like to see, New York Fed President William Dudley said on Wednesday. Dudley, an influential official at the U.S. central bank, said workforce productivity will be a focus for the Fed and also a "wild card" in the prospects for overall gross domestic product growth. He predicted GDP growth would pick up to between a 2.5 to 3 percent pace next year, and yet stronger in 2015. (Reporting by Jonathan Spicer)

China Cinda sets price range on up to $2.45 billion in HK IPO: IFR

HONG KONG (Reuters) - China Cinda Asset Management Corp, one of four companies set up in the late 1990s to manage the country's bad loans, plans to raise about $2.45 billion in a Hong Kong initial public offering, IFR reported on Thursday. The company is offering 5.3 billion shares in a range of HK$3.00 to HK$3.58 each, putting the total deal at HK$18.97 billion ($2.45 billion), added IFR, a Thomson Reuters publication.

China Cinda sets price range on up to $2.45 billion in HK IPO: IFR

HONG KONG (Reuters) - China Cinda Asset Management Corp, one of four companies set up in the late 1990s to manage the country's bad loans, plans to raise about $2.45 billion in a Hong Kong initial public offering, IFR reported on Thursday. The company is offering 5.3 billion shares in a range of HK$3.00 to HK$3.58 each, putting the total deal at HK$18.97 billion ($2.45 billion), added IFR, a Thomson Reuters publication.

New York congresswoman mugged in Washington

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. Representative Grace Meng, a Democrat from New York City, was struck in the back of the head and robbed of her handbag Tuesday night, her office said on Wednesday. Meng, elected last year and the first Asian-American member of New York's congressional delegation, was walking toward her Washington, D.C., apartment when attacked, the statement said.
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