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BUSINESS BRIEFLY

MetLife to sell a portion of retail banking business

NORWALK, Conn. -- MetLife plans to sell its U.S. retail deposit business to GE Capital as it moves away from being a bank holding company.

Financial terms were not disclosed. MetLife Inc., which offers insurance and employee benefit programs, said in July that it was exploring the sale of its banking operations to focus on its other business.

GE Capital's banking business, GE Capital Financial, will acquire $7.5 billion in deposits. GE Capital says the deal fits its plans to launch a U.S. deposit platform.

About $3 billion in other deposits are not part of the deal but will be transferred out of MetLife Bank in the next six months. It has not yet been determined where the $3 billion will be transferred, said MetLife spokesman John Calagna.

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Christmas Day shopping up

NEW YORK -- A growing number of shoppers apparently need only the briefest of breaks before diving back in, especially if they can log in to shop.

IBM found that online shopping jumped 16.4 percent on Christmas Day over last year, and the dollar amount of those purchases that were made using mobile devices was up 172.9 percent.

IBM tracks shopping at more than 500 websites other than Amazon.com, which is the largest. It found a huge increase in the number of shoppers making their purchases with iPhones, iPads and Android-powered mobile devices.

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Lockport union plans vote

Workers at General Motors' Lockport plant will vote next month on a local agreement that is a supplement to the national agreement approved last year.

Voting is set to take place Jan. 10, said Todd McNall, shop chairman for Local 686, United Auto Workers. Local agreements cover issues specific to individual plants.

The local agreement would put the Lockport site in a "better competitive position" to bid for future work, McNall said.

The Lockport site is part of GM's Components Holdings subsidiary. GM reacquired the plant from Delphi in 2009.

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China avoids currency label

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Obama administration Tuesday declined to label China a currency manipulator after seeing recent increases in the value of the yuan compared to the dollar.

The decision angered unions and lawmakers that have accused Beijing of artificially holding down the value of its currency to gain trade advantages.

A cheaper yuan makes Chinese goods less expensive when they are shipped to the United States.

It also makes U.S. goods more expensive in China. Both could increase the U.S. trade deficit with China, which is on pace to hit a record high this year.

The Treasury Department said the yuan has appreciated 12 percent against the dollar in the past 18 months, after adjusting for inflation. In addition, the department said in a semi-annual report that China promised at two high-level meetings last month to make the yuan's exchange rate more flexible.

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Times sells regional papers

NEW YORK (AP) -- The New York Times Co. said Tuesday that it will sell its Regional Media Group to Halifax Media Holdings LLC for $143 million.

The division being sold runs 16 small, regional newspapers including the Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Sarasota, Fla.; the Press Democrat in Santa Rosa, Calif.; and the Tuscaloosa News in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Halifax Media owns the Daytona Beach News-Journal in Florida.

"The sale of our Regional Media Group will enable the New York Times Company to continue our transformation to a digitally-focused, multiplatform media company," said New York Times Co. Chairman Arthur Sulzberger.

The company had said on Dec. 19 that it was in advanced talks to sell the business to Halifax.

That announcement came four days after the company said CEO Janet Robinson will step down at the end of the year.

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