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Consumer confidence in October dropped to its lowest level since the Conference Board created its index in 1967, with a 38-point reading down from a revised 61.4 in September. That's the third-steepest plunge on record.

Two young white supremacists allegedly plotted to assassinate Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama at the end of a killing spree that would have begun at an unidentified African-American school, federal authorities said Monday in unsealing court documents in Jackson, Tenn.

Fifty-two days into a Boeing Co. strike, the planemaker and its machinists union reached a tentative four-year deal Monday that would enhance job security for about 27,000 workers.

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Whirlpool Corp. will cut about 5,000 jobs by the end of 2009, the nation's largest home appliance maker said Tuesday. Falling product demand and the global credit crisis are driving the decision.

The US Postal Service estimates it will deliver 9 billion fewer pieces of mail in fiscal year 2008 than in the year before, The Washington Post reported. The growing popularity of e-mail and cutbacks in financial industry mailings are behind the projection.

Cigarette smokers seeking medical treatment to drop the habit are more hooked than smokers who sought help two decades ago, researchers told a physicians' conference in Washington Tuesday. The reasons for greater nicotine dependence are unclear but possibly linked to higher nicotine content levels.

A smoking ban for casinos in Atlantic City, N.J., will go on hold for a year after being in effect for less than two weeks, the City Council decided Monday. The change stems from concerns that the ban is cutting into casino business, thus jeopardizing jobs.

Sen. John Kerry (D) of Massachu-setts, whose presidential bid failed in 2004, sparred with Cape Cod businessman Jeff Beatty, his GOP challenger, on abortion rights and a proposal to eliminate the state income tax in a debate Monday. Kerry joined the Senate in 1985 and is expected to easily win reelection.

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