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Top News & Analysis Illinois

  • Conditions worsened, though, in Kansas and Iowa, the nation's biggest corn producer, and nearly 98 percent of Nebraska was still deemed to be in one of the two worst categories. According to the map, which is put out by the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, 75 percent of Iowa is enduring extreme or exceptional drought.

  • CHICAGO-- The final case to stem from the corruption investigation into imprisoned former Illinois Gov. William Cellini, 77, was convicted last year for his role in trying to get a $1.5 million campaign contribution for Blagojevich from the Oscar-winning producer of "Million Dollar Baby" in exchange for state business.

  • "A guy like Romney should excite me," said Becker, 30, a Republican who manages real estate investments in Fairfield, a charming shoreline town on Connecticut's affluent "gold coast." That was before the 90- minute head-to-head matchup between Romney and President Barack Obama in Denver, their first of three debates before Election Day.

  • CHICAGO-- Members of the Chicago Teachers Union overwhelmingly have approved a new three-year contract that includes pay increases and a new evaluation system, union officials announced late Wednesday.

  • *Sales at Costco and Gap top expectations. *Macy's, Target, Kohl's sales miss analysts' forecasts. "I think September overall is going to be OK; I don't think it's going to be great," said John Rooney, national retail& distribution sector lead for Deloitte Consulting.

  • *Macy's, Target sales miss analysts' forecasts. Retailers including Costco Wholesale Corp, Victoria's Secret operator Limited Brands Inc and teen chain Zumiez Inc posted bigger-than-expected gains in September sales at stores open at least a year. Target Corp and Macy's Inc posted same-store sales increases that missed analysts' expectations.

  • Claire McCaskill touted a $5.8 million fundraising haul for her re-election campaign Wednesday as Republican challenger Todd Akin sought to raise cash amid new attention to his remarks about abortion.

  • September sales rose 3.9 percent _ a slowdown from the 6- percent rise in August _ as 22 retailers like Macy's and Costco reported mixed results, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers. "This should set up to be a good holiday season," said Ken Perkins, president of Retail Metrics LLC, a research firm.

  • *Sales from Costco, Limited, Zumiez top expectations. Retailers including Costco Wholesale Corp and Victoria's Secret operator Limited Brands Inc posted bigger-than-expected gains in September sales at stores open at least a year.

  • NEW YORK-- BioSante Pharmaceuticals Inc. said Thursday it will merge with ANI Pharmaceuticals in an all-stock deal worth about $94 million. BioSante valued the deal at $93 million to $95 million based on its current share price, according to a company spokesman.

  • NEW YORK, Oct 4- Exchange-traded funds are waging a price war that may save investors money on fees, but cheaper fund choices pose a greater risk because they may rely on new, more-opaque indexes.

  • Oct 3- American Airlines and its pilots union resumed contract talks Wednesday, but other problems continued to beset the bankrupt carrier. "I will never ride on American Airlines ever again," said Tony Palm, who was stranded when a connecting flight on American from Chicago to New York's LaGuardia airport was canceled last month.

  • TOKYO, Oct 4- Japan's Nikkei share average is set to rise on Thursday after more data showed the U.S. economic recovery is gathering steam, but gains will likely be capped by wariness ahead of European Central Bank and Bank of Japan meetings starting later in the day. Nikkei futures in Chicago closed at 8,790, up 0.5 percent from the close in Osaka.

  • Oct 3- American Airlines and its pilots union resumed contract talks Wednesday, but other problems continued to beset the bankrupt airline. "I will never ride on American Airlines ever again," said Tony Palm, who was stranded when a connecting flight on American from Chicago to New York's LaGuardia airport was cancelled last month.

  • By Olivia Oran Oct 3- Container maker Berry Plastics Group Inc. Berry Plastics, based in Evansville, Indiana, is the latest in a slew of companies that Apollo is trying to take public this year. Berry Plastics intends use its IPO proceeds to redeem notes due in 2016, it said in its registration filing.

  • *China, Europe services PMI disappoint. NEW YORK, Oct 3- Oil prices fell sharply on Wednesday as disappointing economic data from China and Europe reinforced concerns about slowing growth and a weakening demand for petroleum, even as supportive U.S. data strengthened the dollar.

  • PHOENIX-- The city of Phoenix and a developer who was poised to demolish a Frank Lloyd Wright- designed home have reached an agreement that will put any work on hold while a search continues for a buyer, a city official confirmed Wednesday.

  • But the chief executives of Las Vegas- based MGM Resorts International and Las Vegas Sands Corp. differed during a keynote panel discussion with four other industry leaders at the Global Gaming Expo about whether states or the federal government are best able to provide oversight.

  • *China, Europe services PMI disappoint. NEW YORK, Oct 3- Oil prices fell sharply on Wednesday as disappointing economic data from China and Europe reinforced concerns about slowing growth and a weakening outlook for petroleum demand, even as supportive U.S. data strengthened the dollar.