Consumer spending up 0.3%, latest data show

WASHINGTON - U.S. consumers increased their spending in October even though their wages and salaries barely increased, raising questions about how strong the economy will grow at the end of the year.

Consumer spending increased 0.3 percent in October compared with September when spending rose 0.2 percent, the Commerce Department reported Friday. Wages and salaries rose a slight 0.1 percent after a much stronger 1 percent rise in September.

Americans' borrowings rose $18.2B in October

WASHINGTON - Americans boosted their borrowing in October, led by another big increase in auto and student loans and the biggest rise in credit card debt in five months.

The Federal Reserve says consumers increased their borrowing by $18.2 billion in October to a seasonally adjusted $3.08 trillion. That is a record level and follows a September increase of $16.3 billion.

The increase was led by a $13.9 billion rise in borrowing for auto loans and student loans. But borrowing in the category that covers credit cards rose by $4.3 billion following a decline of $218 million in September. It was the biggest monthly credit card gain since May and could be a sign that consumer spending will increase in coming months. Credit card borrowing has lagged other types of debt.

Sears to spin off Lands' End clothing business

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. - Sears Holdings said Friday it will spin off its Lands' End clothing business as a separate company by distributing stock to the retailer's shareholders.

It's the latest move by the struggling retailer to turn around its results as it faces wider losses and increasingly displeased investors.

FDA OKs breakthrough treatment for hepatitis

WASHINGTON - Gilead Sciences Inc. says the federal government has approved its highly anticipated hepatitis C drug that is expected to offer a faster cure to millions of people with the liver-destroying virus.

The Food and Drug Administration approved the pill Sovaldi as a daily treatment in combination with older drugs.

Current treatments for hepatitis C can take up to a year of therapy and only cure three out of four patients. Sovaldi is cures roughly 90 percent of patients in just 12 weeks, according to company studies.

The approval comes as the government urges baby boomers to get tested for the disease. Hepatitis C is five times more common among people born between 1945 and 1965.

Big ice storm is snarling deliveries nationwide

OKLAHOMA CITY - Whether you're ready to ship that holiday package across the country or waiting for your next shipment of cooking grease, now's not the best time to be in a hurry.

Businesses small and large are waiting for pickups and consumers across the land are receiving notices that their packages will be delayed because of a massive, icy blast that will eventually hit from coast-to-coast.

For people who rely on the shipping industry, the storm comes at the worst time: the height of the holiday mailing season.

Judge refuses to block American-US Air deal

NEW YORK - A judge refused to block a merger between American Airlines and US Airways on Friday, saying a bankruptcy court correctly rejected arguments made by a lawyer for some consumers.

Attorney Joseph Alioto argued that the deal would harm fliers because it would result in less competition and higher prices. But U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska repeatedly noted his arguments relied on outdated facts, had no evidence to support them and sometimes made no sense.

American has said it plans to complete the merger with US Airways on Monday.

Staff and wire reports