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Top News & Analysis United States

  • *May expand sanctions on Iran central bank transactions. *Aimed at pressuring Iran to rein in nuclear program. WASHINGTON, Oct 5- Key lawmakers in the U.S. Congress are looking at ways to expand economic sanctions on Iran, measures that have helped pushed the country's currency into free fall but have not yet pressured Tehran to abandon its nuclear program.

  • WASHINGTON-- Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, who helped design Beijing's Olympic Stadium and has since drawn tough scrutiny for his political activism, is opening the first North American retrospective exhibition of his work in Washington.

  • --Wisconsin- based crane and food service equipment manufacturer Manitowoc Co. Inc.. has issued $300 million of new senior unsecured notes due 2022 and expects to use proceeds to redeem its $150 million of senior notes due 2013 and to repay borrowings under the senior secured credit facility.

  • ABC has the highest amount, with 10 out of 194, or 5.2 percent, of their regular characters identified as LGBT. CBS was saluted as much improved, with four out of 142 LGBT series regulars, or 2.8 percent, up from 0.7 percent last year.

  • TALLADEGA, Ala.-- Jeff Gordon and Hendrick Motorsports announced a contract extension Thursday through 2014 with sponsor AARP and AARP Foundation. Gordo, a four-time NASCAR champion, has helped deliver food to food banks and actively supported the cause since partnering with the campaign.

  • Oct 5- Fitch Ratings has affirmed the Issuer Default Ratings of WGL Holdings, Inc.. and Washington Gas Light Company at' A+'. For the latest 12 months period ending June 30, 2012, WG comprised 81.6% of consolidated EBITDA.

  • HOUSTON-- The Houston Astros say they'll have a new radio broadcast team next season. In a statement issued Thursday, the Astros say they've begun a search for a successor to veteran broadcaster Milo Hamilton, who announced that 2012 would be his last season as lead play-by-play announcer.

  • NEW YORK-- Teams from 16 conferences in 172 games are on CBS Sports Network's schedule for 2012-13.. The first games shown will be from the Paradise Jam in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands with Connecticut, and first-year coach Kevin Ollie, facing Wake Forest and UIC against New Mexico.

  • NEW YORK-- Shares of Cache Inc. sank Friday after the women's clothing retailer announced disappointing preliminary results for the third quarter. Cache said it will lose 39 to 41 cents per share for the quarter ended Sept. 29, and its revenue will be down about 6 percent, to $45.8 million.

  • BALTIMORE-- Maryland lottery officials say revenue at the Hollywood Casino in Perryville dropped more than a third in September compared to the year before. The Maryland Lottery announced the figures Friday, saying the Perryville casino took in $3.3 million less last month than last September with revenue dropping to $5.9 million.

  • *Coming up: Baker Hughes rig data, CFTC trade data Friday. NEW YORK, Oct 5- U.S. natural gas futures turned mixed on Friday, with front-month contracts lightly pressured by Thursday's bearish storage report and forecasts for mild mid-month weather, while colder days expected next week helped limit the downside.

  • By Christopher Langner and Neha D'Silva. Oct 5- A sudden rebound in risk appetite caught Asia's debt capital markets bankers by surprise last week, but the renewed confidence quickly triggered predictions of tighter pricing and heavy dealflow.

  • *Little change from 8.1 percent jobless rate expected* 8.4 percent would be a blow, 7.9 would boost Obama* Next report, for October, just before Election Day By Patricia Zengerle.

  • NEW YORK-- Shares of Owens-Illinois gained 5 percent on Friday as a Goldman Sachs analyst boosted the glass container company's rating and price target, citing a recent change to its capital allocation strategy. THE SPARK: Alex Ovshey raised Owens-Illinois Inc. to "Buy" from "Neutral" and increased its 12- month price target to $28 from $20.

  • SAO PAULO-- The man who has headed the Olympic movement in Brazil for decades and helped bring the Summer Games to Rio de Janeiro is set to extend his rule amid increased criticism and accusations of wrongdoing.

  • TALLADEGA, Ala.-- Kyle Busch apologized Thursday to manufacturer Toyota Motor Corp. for his profanity-laced rant about the fuel mileage at Dover. Busch unleashed a string of profanities directed at Toyota on his in-car radio, and did not do media interviews after the race.

  • Manning and Hardaway join a minority group that includes singer and actor Justin Timberlake and a couple of Memphis businessmen, the person told The Associated Press on Thursday on condition of anonymity because Pera's purchase of the Grizzlies is pending approval by the NBA.

  • --World Financial Network Credit Card Master Note Trust's issuance is an ABS securitization backed by a collateral certificate representing an ownership interest in the receivables held by World Financial Network Credit Card Master Trust.

  • *Canadian PM says CNOOC bid raises difficult issues. *Government deciding whether to approve CNOOC bid for Nexen.

  • *Danone keeps Vitasnella milk derivatives. *Mondelez makes over a third of sales in Europe. MILAN/ PARIS, Oct 5- Kraft Foods Europe, which is being integrated in spun-off snack giant Mondelez International, is buying Italy's Vitasnella snack business from French foods maker Danone for an undisclosed sum as part of its consolidation plans in Europe.