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S&P 500 to test record high after BOJ ramps up stimulus
By Rodrigo Campos NEW YORK (Reuters) - The S&P 500 could set a record high at the open on Friday as markets rallied globally after the Bank of Japan significantly ramped up its stimulus program just days after the U.S. Federal Reserve wound down its own package of economic incentives. If futures' gains hold after the open, the S&P 500 could test its record high set more than a month ago. The December e-minis contract hit an intraday record earlier on Friday. ...

U.S. consumer spending falters; wage gains highest since 2008
By Lucia Mutikani WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. consumer spending fell for the first time in eight months in September, suggesting the economy lost some momentum heading into the fourth quarter. The slowdown in consumer spending, however, is likely to be temporary, as other data on Friday showed wages in the third quarter recorded their largest increase in more than six years. Consumer spending declined 0.2 percent last month after a 0.5 percent increase in August, as demand for goods tumbled and demand for services barely rose, Commerce Department data showed. ...

Exxon third-quarter profit rises 3 percent on refining
(Reuters) - Exxon Mobil Corp , the world's largest publicly traded oil company, on Friday reported a better-than-expected 3 percent increase in quarterly profit on higher results in its refining and chemicals businesses. Share rose nearly 1.4 percent to $95.75 in premarket trading. "Exxon Mobil’s quarterly results demonstrate the strength of our integrated business model," Chief Executive Officer Rex Tillerson said in a statement. ...

Chevron profit jumps as refining offsets production dip
(Reuters) - Chevron Corp posted a higher-than-expected quarterly profit on Friday as lower crude prices boosted its refinery operations, helping to offset sagging oil and gas production. The company posted third-quarter net income of $5.59 billion, or $2.95 per share, compared with $4.95 billion, or $2.57 per share, a year earlier. Analysts on average expected earnings of $2.55 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Production fell nearly 1 percent to 2.57 million barrels of oil equivalent per day as new wells failed to offset declines at old ones. ...

Japans central bank shocks markets with more easing as inflation slows
By Leika Kihara and Tetsushi Kajimoto TOKYO (Reuters) - The Bank of Japan shocked global financial markets on Friday by expanding its massive stimulus spending in a stark admission that economic growth and inflation have not picked up as much as expected after a sales tax hike in April. BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda portrayed the board's tightly-split decision to buy more assets as a preemptive strike to keep policy on track, rather than an admission that his plan to reflate the long moribund-economy had derailed. ...

Wal-Mart to expand discounts as retail price war heats up
(Reuters) - Wal-Mart Stores Inc said it will expand its offering of discounted products during the holiday season and may broaden a price-matching scheme to include online rivals, in the latest sign of an escalating price war among big U.S. retailers. Wal-Mart said it was bracing for competition to be as tough or tougher than in 2013, when heavy discounting depressed earnings across the industry. Wal-Mart's profits dropped in the holiday quarter last year and it has posted six straight quarters of flat or declining same-store sales. ...

Argentina default spreads to Par bonds, raising acceleration risk
By Sarah Marsh and Daniel Bases BUENOS AIRES/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Argentina's debt default spread to its Par bonds on Friday after the country failed to complete an interest payment, raising the risk that creditors could demand that its cash-strapped government immediately repay all of its debt. The country last month deposited a $161 million payment with a newly appointed local trustee to try to circumvent U.S. court orders for it to settle with "holdout" investors suing for full repayment of bonds from a 2002 default before paying debtholders who accepted a restructuring. ...

Italy says private capital will meet Monte Paschi, Carige needs
ROME (Reuters) - Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena and Carige will make up the capital shortfalls revealed in the ECB stress tests through private sector financing, Italian Economy Minister Pier Carlo Padoan said on Friday. "The remaining capital needs of our banking system will be filled through the mobilization of private resources," Padoan said in a speech at a conference in Rome. He made no comment on the status of repayments of existing state aid offered to Monte dei Paschi in a previous bailout. ...

Trial of former UBS executive dredges up Swiss banks shady past
By Francisco Alvarado, Zachary Fagenson and Joshua Franklin FORT LAUDERDALE Fla./ZURICH (Reuters) - From bundles of cash inside scraps of newspaper to setting up shell companies, the trial in Florida of a former UBS executive is a reminder of the extreme methods some Swiss bankers used to hide clients' cash.     Raoul Weil, 54, is the highest ranking Swiss banker to be arrested in the United States and prosecutors are seeking to paint him as a facilitator of efforts that helped conceal up to $20 billion in taxpayers' assets in secret offshore accounts. ...

U.S. third-quarter wage gains largest since 2008
WASHINGTON, Oct 31 (Reuters) - - U.S. labor costs rose more than expected in the third quarter as wages recorded their largest gain since 2008, a sign that a long-awaited pick-up in wage growth was underway. The Employment Cost Index, the broadest measure of labor costs, increased 0.7 percent after advancing by the same margin in the second quarter, the Labor Department said on Friday. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the employment cost index increasing 0.5 percent in the July-September period. Wages and salaries, which account for 70 percent of employment costs, rose 0. ...

US stocks are mixed in midday trading
NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks drifted in Thursday trading as a parade of big companies turn in quarterly results. The Dow Jones industrial average climbed more than 100 points, almost entirely thanks to a strong gain for Visa, the Dow's highest-priced stock.

US stocks are mixed in early trading
NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are opening mixed as investors look over more earnings reports from big companies.

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A 3.85mm-thick phone? Chinese company Vivo says its coming
Chinese smartphone maker Vivo hints at a spectacularly slim smartphone, one-upping Oppo's 4.85mm-thick R5.>