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Consumer spending up ... and other business briefs

NATION

Consumer spending gets a lift

Americans increased their spending in September at twice the rate that their income grew, a sign of confidence in the economy. Still, consumers made up the difference by saving less for a third straight month, a troubling trend. The Commerce Department said Monday that consumer spending increased 0.8 percent in September from August. That followed a 0.5 percent gain in August and was the best showing since February. Personal income rose 0.4 percent, an improvement from a slight 0.1 percent gain in August and the best gain since March. However, after adjusting for inflation and taxes, income was flat in September. That followed a 0.3 percent decline in August. Consumer spending is important because it drives nearly 70 percent of economic activity.


UPS: 10% holiday growth

UPS expects to deliver 527 million packages between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, surpassing last year's record high by 10 percent. The world's largest package delivery company estimates 28 million of those will be delivered on Thursday, Dec. 20 -- projected to be the busiest day of the year. That's nearly double what the Atlanta company moves on an average day. The busiest day of the year has moved close to Christmas because more Americans are ordering gifts online and using expedited shipping. To handle the big jump in volume, UPS plans to hire 55,000 seasonal workers, the same number it hired last year, but 10 percent higher than in 2010. Overall holiday sales are projected to rise 4.1 percent, according to The National Retail Federation, the smallest increase since 2009. But online holiday sales will grow 16.8 percent, according to research firm eMarketer. Online shopping accounts for about $1 in every $10 spent over the holidays.


Whopping profit drop for BK

Burger King's net income fell 83 percent in the third quarter as the world's second-biggest hamburger chain sold off more of its restaurants to franchisees as part of a turnaround push. But the company's adjusted results topped Wall Street expectations. The private investment firm that owns a majority stake in the fast-food chain, 3G Capital, has been working to put the shine back in Burger King's crown since purchasing it in 2010. In addition to unveiling its biggest-ever menu expansion and a celebrity-studded ad campaign this spring, the firm has been shifting to an entirely franchisee-owned model to cut down on overhead costs and boost profit margins. For the three months ended Sept. 30, net income fell to $6.6 million, or 2 cents per share. That compares with $38.8 million, or 11 cents per share, last year. -- AP

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