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BUSINESS HIGHLIGHTS

UK vote eases uncertainty hurting businesses

LONDON (AP) — British businesses that have been hobbled for three years by fear and confusion over Brexit are getting a break. The U.K. election result means Britain’s departure from the European Union will almost certainly happen on Jan. 31, as scheduled, after multiple delays. It remains unclear how Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party will steer the economy beyond that, because so much of Britain’s future trade relations have yet to be negotiated. But for companies that have had to plan for all sorts of chaotic outcomes to Brexit, this offers at least a little clarity.

Johnson victory means Brexit is coming

LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson campaigned on one theme alone — “Get Brexit done.” His sweeping victory in Thursday’s election means that could happen within weeks. Even before his Conservative Party had officially crossed the winning line, Johnson said it looked like his party had “a powerful new mandate” to complete Britain’s divorce from the European union. Johnson now looks certain to pull Britain out of the EU by the Jan. 31 deadline. But he still faces the mountainous challenge of negotiating a complex trade deal with the EU by the end of next year.

How tramadol, touted as safer opioid, became peril

KAPURTHALA, India (AP) — Mass abuse of the drug tramadol spans continents, from India to Africa to the Middle East. The problem is that advocates claimed it was a safer opioid, relieving pain with little risk of abuse. So tramadol flowed freely around the world, unburdened by international controls that track most dangerous drugs. Abuse is so rampant countries are asking international authorities to intervene. One doctor says: “There is no safe opioid.” He says tramadol is not a safe alternative. But the German company that originally made the drug is fighting efforts to regulate it further.

Holiday shopping off to slow start, sales up .02%

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. retail sales rose at a modest pace in November as the holiday shopping season appeared to have a slow start. The Commerce Department said Friday that retail sales increased a seasonally adjusted 0.2% in November. Healthy car sales lifted the overall figure. Excluding autos, sales ticked up just 0.1%. Steady job gains, a low unemployment rate and rising wages have lifted consumer confidence and economists expect this year’s holiday shopping season to be a healthy one. But with Thanksgiving falling later in November there were fewer shopping days after Black Friday. Parts of the Midwest were also hit last month with snow and cold weather, which may have discouraged spending.

GM to invest $1.5 billion in Missouri plant

WENTZVILLE, Mo. (AP) — General Motors says it is investing $1.5 billion in truck production at a suburban St. Louis plant. GM President Mark Reuss joined Missouri elected officials on Friday to announce the Wentzville plant expansion. Gov. Mike Parson says GM is promising to keep roughly 4,000 jobs at the site. The company has 4,300 workers and any losses will come through attrition. The announcement comes less than two months after GM workers nationwide ended a contentious 40-day strike with an agreement that included a commitment by GM to invest in Wentzville to produce the next generation of GM’s midsize pickup trucks.

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