BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - Montana and federal officials say they'll seek compensation from Exxon Mobil Corp. for natural resource damages caused by a crude oil spill into the Yellowstone River. Thursday's announcement comes two years after an Exxon pipeline near Laurel broke during flooding and released 63,000 gallons of oil. More than 70 miles of riverbank were contaminated. The state and Department of Interior say fish, birds and other wildlife and their habitat were harmed. Government officials will now determine how much they want Exxon to pay in compensation. The company already paid $1.6 million in state pollution fines. Exxon faces a separate $1.7 million penalty from federal pipeline safety regulators who say the spill was worsened by Exxon's failure to quickly shut down the broken line.
NEW YORK (AP) - Barnes & Noble is releasing a new Nook e-book reader for the holidays, while it evaluates the future of tablet computers. Nook tablets haven't sold well amid intense competition with Apple's iPad, Amazon's Kindle Fire and others. The company said it isn't giving up on tablets, but it will focus on a new e-reader this year while continuing to sell last year's tablet models. Barnes & Noble's new e-reader, Nook GlowLight, is available Wednesday for $119, the same as the standard model of Amazon.com Inc.'s Kindle Paperwhite reader. At 6.2 ounces, the GlowLight is 15 percent lighter than the Paperwhite. The new reader has a brighter screen on the brightest setting. The frame is white, not black, to match the screen color.
WASHINGTON (AP) - A sharp drop in auto sales caused largely by a calendar quirk lowered U.S. retail spending in September. But Americans boosted their spending on most other goods, suggesting confidence in the economy ahead of the government shutdown. The Commerce Department says retail sales dipped 0.1 percent, the weakest showing since March. Auto sales fell 2.2 percent, the largest decline since October 2012. But the drop was largely because the sales calendar pulled Labor Day weekend activity into August, the automakers have said. That means the drop is likely temporary. Excluding autos, gas and building supplies, sales rose 0.5 percent in September, up from 0.2 percent in August and the same as July's figure. Economists exclude those categories to get a better sense of consumer demand.
WASHINGTON (AP) - U.S. home prices rose 12.8 percent in August from a year earlier, the fastest annual gain since February 2006. The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index improved from July, when prices rose 12.4 percent from a year earlier. All 20 cities showed year-over-year gains. Prices in Las Vegas rose 29.2 percent from a year earlier, the fastest pace in the nation. But they are still 47 percent lower than they were before the housing market collapsed. Prices in the 20 cities rose 1.3 percent in August from July, down from a 1.8 percent monthly gain in July. Prices have continued to rise steadily but the rate of increase has been slowing.
HOLLAND, Mich. (AP) - A Michigan factory that makes lithium-ion batteries for General Motors Co. plans to resume commercial production on Monday after halting production because of a controversy over a chemical. LG Chem halted production in September after saying a chemical used to make batteries may not have been registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA said it didn't order the shutdown but had issued a subpoena on LG Chem, seeking to learn what chemicals are used at the factory. Production had begun in July in Holland in western Michigan. The Holland Sentinel reports that LG Chem says the first shipments from the factory are expected in November. LG Chem drew attention during its 2010 groundbreaking, when President Barack Obama traveled to Michigan for the event.
NEW YORK (AP) - The U.S. dollar is mixed against other North American currencies in New York trading. It's worth 1.04 Canadian dollars, unchanged from late Thursday. And the dollar is trading at 12.93 Mexican pesos, down from late Thursday.
NEW YORK (AP) - Gold and silver prices are higher after the U.S. government reported a slowdown in hiring last month, raising expectations that more stimulus from the Federal Reserve will keep the dollar weak and interest rates low. Gold for December delivery rose $26.80, or 2 percent, to $1,342.60 an ounce Tuesday. Gold is the highest it's been in a month. Silver for delivery in the same month rose 51.2 cents, or 2.3 percent, to $22.79 an ounce. The Labor Department reported that U.S. employers added fewer jobs in September than analysts expected. Investors anticipated that would mean more bond-buying from the Fed, which could keep U.S. interest rates low and weaken the dollar, both bullish for gold.
TROY, Mich. (AP) - Move over, silver. After more than a decade as the world's favorite car color, silver is falling in popularity to white. PPG Industries, the leading supplier of automotive paints, says 25 percent of the vehicles it supplied in the 2013 model year were white. Silver and black tied for second, with 18 percent each. Apple Inc., with its white stores and slim white gadgets, made white a high-tech color. The variety of whites - from flat shades to creamy pearls - is also contributing, says Jane Harrington, PPG's manager of automotive color styling. Harrington says automakers are currently scouting colors for the 2016 and 2017 model years. She predicts jewel-like colors such as rich greens and deep purples will be popular. Grays and browns are also gaining.
DENVER (AP) - Two Colorado farmers whose cantaloupes were tied to a 2011 listeria outbreak that killed 33 people have pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges under a deal with federal prosecutors. Eric and Ryan Jensen pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court in Denver to six counts of introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce. A sentencing hearing has been set for Jan. 28. The deal didn't address the brothers' possible punishment. Officials say people in 28 states ate the contaminated fruit and 147 were hospitalized. A statement from the Jensens' attorneys says the brothers were shocked and saddened by the deaths, but the guilty pleas do not imply any intentional wrongdoing or knowledge that the cantaloupes were contaminated. The brothers have sued the safety auditor who gave their farm a superior rating just before the outbreak.
WASHINGTON (AP) - Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages rose slightly this week, staying near three-month lows. Rates could fall next week now that lawmakers reached a deal to avert a possible government debt default. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the average rate on the 30-year loan increased to 4.28 percent from 4.23 percent last week. The average on the 15-year fixed loan edged up to 3.33 percent from 3.31 percent. Mortgage rates began falling last month after the Federal Reserve held off slowing its $85-billion-a-month in bond purchases. The bond buys are intended to keep longer-term interest rates low, including mortgage rates. Longer-term rates also stayed low because of the partial government shutdown and a lack of government economic data.