AP's Top 10 Business Stories of 2013

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Wall Street
AP Business Writers Michael Liedtke in San Francisco and Ken Sweet and Joyce M. Rosenberg in New York contributed to this report.

It was an easy year to emulate Warren Buffett even as Congress almost wrecked the economy.

U.S. stocks rocketed to new heights, and markets in Japan and Europe jumped, too. The gains enriched investors and defied a still-subpar economic rebound from the Great Recession.

Budget fights closed much of the U.S. government for 16 days. Leaked classified documents showed that the National Security Agency collected private online communications via Internet companies. The disastrous rollout of President Barack Obama's health care law confirmed fears of a bureaucratic train wreck.

Central banks embarked on a shopping spree. JPMorgan Chase paid a record $13 billion for its role in the housing bust. General Motors flashed signs of its old horsepower. A colossal merger for American Airlines and US Airways took flight. Twitter's IPO recalled the dizzy dot.com era. And the heartbreaking deaths of 1,100 garment workers in Bangladesh showed that some overseas factories serving U.S. companies remain unsafe.

The stock market boom was chosen as the top business story of 2013 by business editors at The Associated Press. Washington's gridlock and dysfunction came in second, followed by revelations involving the NSA.

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AP's Top Business Stories of 2013
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AP's Top 10 Business Stories of 2013
Congress nearly derailed the economy — not once but several times. Lawmakers allowed a Social Security tax cut to lapse after Jan. 1, which shrank Americans' paychecks. Then they let deep federal spending cuts take effect in March because they couldn't agree on a budget. The dysfunction peaked in October: Unable to pass a 2014 budget, Congress shut down part of the government for 16 days. National parks were closed. Federal employees stayed home. The government even risked a default on its debt until, with just hours to spare, Congress reopened the government and by December forged a two-year budget deal.
The Fed and other central banks supported growth by keeping rates ultra-low. Investors, home buyers and corporations benefited. But many who depend on income from savings accounts suffered. Chairman Ben Bernanke kept the Fed's key short-term rate near zero and abandoned previous guidance about when a rate increase might eventually occur. The Fed finally decided in December to pare its bond buying program but will do so very gradually. The Bank of Japan has held rates near zero and pledged to double that country's money supply by buying bonds. And the European Central Bank cut its rate twice to 0.25 percent.
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