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South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem says that if re-elected she will uphold the state’s abortion ban that provides no exceptions for rape or incest. Her remarks came Friday during her reelection campaign’s lone debate with her Democratic challenger, state lawmaker Jamie Smith,  The Republican governor explained her position simply as “pro-life." She pledges to push for expanded parental leave in the state and alleviate the toll of inflation on people’s budgets. Smith called Noem’s stance extreme and said it was endangering women’s lives. He also said it was causing concern among physicians for its lack of clarity on when an abortion is allowed — only to save the life of a pregnant woman.

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Wall Street closed out a miserable September with a loss of 9.3%, the worst monthly decline since March 2020. The S&P 500 fell 1.5% Friday and is at its lowest level in almost two years. The benchmark index has lost ground for six of the last seven weeks and posted its third straight losing quarter. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 1.7% and the Nasdaq fell 1.5%. Nike fell sharply after the company had to slash prices to clear inventories, while Carnival dropped following weaker-than-expected quarterly results. Bond markets were showing more calm as yields relaxed.

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A growing number of retailers stuck with excess inventory are implementing cost-saving measures that could affect the way you shop. Some companies are so desperate to get rid of merchandise that they're telling customers to keep their returns. Others, including H&M, are gearing up to test return fees in some markets to dissuade shoppers from bringing back certain items.

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Asian stocks have sunk again after German inflation spiked higher, British Prime Minister Liz Truss defended a tax-cut plan that rattled investors and Chinese manufacturing weakened. Shanghai, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Sydney retreated. Oil prices edged lower. Wall Street fell to its lowest level in almost two years after strong U.S. jobs data reinforced expectations the Federal Reserve will stick to plans for more interest rate hikes. Investors worry the global economy will tip into recession following interest rate hikes by central banks to cool inflation that is at multi-decade highs. Global export demand is weakening and Russia’s attack on Ukraine has disrupted oil and gas markets.

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British Prime Minister Liz Truss has defended her economic plan that roiled financial markets, saying she’s willing to make “difficult decisions” to get the economy growing. Truss gave her first public comments Thursday since her government last week announced billions in unfunded tax cuts that drove the pound currency to record lows. She says Britain is facing a “very, very difficult” economic situation. But she says the problems are global and spurred by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The turmoil has seen the opposition Labour Party open up a widening lead in opinion polls. A YouGov survey released Thursday gave Labour a 33-point lead over the Conservatives, up from an 8-point lead a week ago.

WASHINGTON — The economy shrank in the first half of this year, the government confirmed in a report Thursday, underscoring fears of a broad-b…

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The economy shrank in the first half of this year, underscoring fears of a broad-based slowdown that could lead to a recession. At the same time, the number of people seeking unemployment benefits fell to a five-month low. Inflation, meantime, remains near its highest level in four decades, though gas costs and other prices have eased in recent weeks. Six months of economic contraction is a long-held informal definition of a recession. Yet nothing is simple in a post-pandemic economy in which growth is negative but the job market strong. The wide range of data is key in helping define when a recession hits.

Bulgarians will go to the polls for the fourth time in less than two years in a general election overshadowed this time by the war in Ukraine, rising energy costs and galloping inflation. Pollsters expect that voters’ fatigue and disillusionment with the political system will result in low turnout and a fragmented parliament where populist and pro-Russia groups could increase their representation. The early election comes after a coalition led by pro-Western Prime Minister Kiril Petkov lost a no-confidence vote in June. He claimed that Moscow used “hybrid war” tactics to bring down his government after it refused to pay gas bills in rubles and ordered the expulsion of 70 Russian diplomatic staff from Bulgaria. The election will be held on Sunday.

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Asian stock markets have followed Wall Street higher after Britain’s central bank moved forcefully to stop a budding financial crisis. Market benchmarks in Hong Kong, Seoul and Sydney added more than 1%. Shanghai and Tokyo also rose. Oil prices edged lower after jumping by more than $3 per barrel the previous day. Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 index surged 2% for its biggest gain in seven weeks after the Bank of England announced it would buy as many government bonds as needed to restore order to financial markets. Investors worried that planned British tax cuts would push up already high inflation.

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Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell says he believes his party now has a 50-50 shot of getting the chamber back less than six weeks away from the midterm elections. The optimistic statement from the GOP leader Wednesday comes after he drew criticism last month from those in his caucus when he downplayed the party’s chances in the fall elections, saying it would be more likely for Republicans to gain control of the House than the Senate. McConnell has been careful about overstating any GOP gains in the chamber and he previously criticized the “quality” of candidates in key races like Arizona and Ohio.

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The Bank of England has taken emergency action to stabilize U.K. financial markets and head off a crisis in the broader economy. The move Wednesday comes after the government spooked investors with a program of unfunded tax cuts, sending the pound tumbling and the cost of government debt soaring. The central bank warned that crumbling confidence in the economy posed a “material risk to U.K. financial stability.” The International Monetary Fund also has taken the rare step to urge a member of the Group of Seven advanced economies to abandon its plan to cut taxes and increase borrowing to cover the cost.

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Asian shares have tumbled after a wobbly day on Wall Street as markets churn over the prospect of a possible recession. U.S. futures and oil prices also fell. The volatile trading Tuesday in New York came a day after the Dow Jones Industrial Average followed other major U.S. indexes into a bear market. The S&P 500 slipped 0.2%, the Dow fell a bit more and the Nasdaq composite wound up with a gain of 0.2%. With just a few days left in September, stocks are heading for another losing month as investors fear that the higher interest rates being used to fight inflation could help knock the economy into a downturn.

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For the first time in a decade, Americans will pay less next year on monthly premiums for Medicare’s Part B plan, which covers routine doctors’ visits and other outpatient care. The rare 3% decrease in monthly premiums -- a savings of $5.20 for most -- comes after millions of Medicare beneficiaries endured a tough year of high inflation and a dramatic increase in those premiums this year. Most people on Medicare will pay $164.90 monthly for Part B coverage starting next year. The decrease in Medicare fees comes as many older people await news about big increases next year to their Social Security checks, which are often used to pay for Medicare premiums.

As the country’s food charities struggle to keep up with rising inflation and demand, the White House will host a conference on Wednesday. For several months, the Biden administration has hosted listening sessions with hunger and nutrition groups, corporations, and federal agencies to help find ways to end hunger by 2030. It’s an ambitious goal that would transform operations for nonprofits like Catholic Charities and the foundations that help feed the one in six Americans seeking food from nonprofits every year. Nonprofits and foundations have found reasons for optimism. They hope the conference will be a launching point for sweeping change.

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Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is warning of economic calamity if climate change is not addressed with immediate government intervention. She says the increasing frequency and severity of natural disasters could create devastating short-term supply reductions of everyday goods that could cause prices to skyrocket. She spoke during a visit to North Carolina, which is home to several tight races in the upcoming midterm elections. On the trip, Yellen pitched the benefits of Democrats’ new climate, health and tax law, the so-called Inflation Reduction Act, that will spend $375 billion over the next decade on climate-related investments. Combined with last year’s bipartisan infrastructure law, the investments total more than $430 billion.

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The British pound has stabilized as U.K. authorities tried to ease investor concerns after the biggest tax cuts in 50 years sent the currency tumbling to a record low. Some businesses are predicting a devastating combination of a weak currency and rising interest rates. The turmoil is already having real-world effects, with British mortgage lenders pulling hundreds of offers from the market. That's because there are expectations the Bank of England will sharply boost interest rates to offset the inflationary impact of the pound’s recent slide. The Wine and Spirit Trade Association says the sterling crash is set to raise prices for consumers and threaten hundreds of British jobs in bottling plants.

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