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In brief: Staples reveals possible data breach

From Wire Reports

In what could be the latest data breach to strike U.S. retailers, Staples Inc. said it is investigating “a potential issue involving credit card data.”

The office supply chain, based in Framingham, Massachusetts, said Tuesday it has contacted law enforcement and is “working to resolve the situation.”

The company’s statement follows a report from security journalist Brian Krebs that hackers likely stole customer card data from a handful of stores in the Northeast.

Target offers free shipping

NEW YORK – Target Corp. is offering for the first time free holiday shipping on all items, including even $6 lipsticks, as the discounter throws itself in the ring to compete better with the likes of Amazon.

The Minneapolis-based chain said its free shipping offer starts today and will last through Dec. 20. The move is unusually early for a retailer and could squeeze Target’s profit margins. But the strategy underscores how retailers are willing to do whatever it takes to grab shoppers in the holiday shopping season, which accounts for about 20 percent of the retail industry’s total sales.

Oilman Nelson Bunker Hunt dies

DALLAS – Nelson Bunker Hunt, a Texas oilman who once tried to corner the silver market with his brothers only to see the move end in financial disaster, has died.

His brother, W. Herbert Hunt, said he died Tuesday at a Dallas assisted-living center after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. He was 88.

Hunt was among the world’s wealthiest men. His father was legendary Texas oilman H.L. Hunt.

He built on his father’s oil and gas holdings, finding a rich Libyan oil field only to have it nationalized later by Moammar Gadhafi. He owned millions of acres of farm and ranch land in Australia, race horses and an ancient coin collection.

But a huge, soured bet on the silver market by Hunt and his brothers led to legal problems and bankruptcy.

CVS expands tobacco fight

First, CVS Health pulled tobacco from its store shelves. Now, it plans to make some customers think twice about filling prescriptions at other stores that sell smokes.

The nation’s second-largest drugstore chain is developing a new tobacco-free pharmacy network that it will offer as a choice to employers and other clients of its Caremark pharmacy benefits management business. Employers, insurers and unions hire pharmacy benefits managers to run their prescription drug coverage.

The new CVS network will slap an extra co-payment on patients who fill their prescriptions at stores that sell tobacco.

China growth slowest in 5 years

BEIJING – China’s economic growth waned to a five-year low of 7.3 percent last quarter, raising concerns of a spillover effect on the global economy but falling roughly in line with Chinese leaders’ plans for a controlled slowdown.

The third-quarter figures, released Tuesday, put China on course for annual growth somewhat lower than the 7.5 percent targeted by leaders, though they have indicated there is wiggle room in their plan. The world’s No. 2 economy grew 7.5 percent from a year earlier in the previous quarter and 7.4 percent in the first quarter.

Sales of existing homes rise

WASHINGTON – U.S. homes sold in September at their fastest clip this year, a sign that the housing market is shaking off a slowdown that began in mid-2013.

The National Association of Realtors said Tuesday that sales of existing homes rose 2.4 percent from the previous month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.17 million. Still, the sales rate has dropped 1.7 percent over the past 12 months.

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