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Walmart, Google settle massive lawsuits; US home sales fall for ninth straight month, and more business news ICYMI

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Walmart and Google are set to pay a combined total of more than $3 billion over the opioid crisis and location-tracking charges respectively.

Check out this week's Business Briefs, an encompassing look at top business news this week from the Associated Press, with a special spotlight on national business and the economy.

40 states settle Google location-tracking charges for $392M

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Google has agreed to a $391.5 million settlement with 40 states to resolve an investigation into how the company tracked users’ locations. State attorneys general announced the settlement Monday. They're calling it the largest multistate privacy settlement in U.S history. Officials say the investigation by the states was spurred by a 2018 Associated Press story. The officials say they found that Google continued to track people’s location data even after they opted out of such tracking.

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Walmart offers to pay $3.1 billion to settle opioid lawsuits

Walmart has agreed to pay $3.1 billion to settle lawsuits nationwide over the impact of the prescriptions its pharmacies filled for powerful prescription opioid painkillers. The deal would still need to be approved by 43 states to take effect. It also includes $78 million for Native American tribes. Pharmacy chains CVS Health and Walgreen Co. each said they would pay about $5 billion over time to settle their suits. All told, the opioid crisis has been linked more more than 500,000 U.S. deaths over the past two decades. Other major drugmakers and distributors have already finalized settlements in some cases.

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Rising food costs take a bite out of Thanksgiving dinner

Americans are bracing for a costly Thanksgiving this year, with double-digit percent increases in the price of turkey, potatoes, stuffing, canned pumpkin and other staples. Higher production costs are only part of the reason; disease, rough weather and the war in Ukraine are also contributors. Turkey supplies are at their lowest point since 1986 after a deadly avian flu wiped out flocks, and prices are up about 28%. But experts say there won't be shortages of whole birds because producers shifted production to meet Thanksgiving demand. Meanwhile, stores like Walmart, Lidl and Aldi are offering deals to lessen the sticker shock.

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USDA program keeps extra COVID-era money for fruits, veggies

U.S. agriculture officials have proposed changes to the federal program that helps pay the grocery bills for low-income mothers and young children. The update announced Thursday keeps a bump in payments for fresh fruits and vegetables allowed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Changes to the program known as WIC also would allow more whole grains, canned fish, canned beans and non-dairy milk substitutes. Officials said it would give shoppers more flexibility at the supermarket. About 6.2 million people participate in the program at a cost to the federal government of about $5 billion a year.

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US home sales fell in October for ninth straight month

Sales of previously occupied U.S. homes fell in October for the ninth month in a row to the slowest pre-pandemic sales pace in more than 10 years, as homebuyers grappled with sharply higher mortgage rates, rising home prices and fewer properties on the market. The National Association of Realtors said Friday that existing home sales fell 5.9% last month from September to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.43 million. Sales fell 28.4% from October last year, and are now at the slowest annual pace since December 2011, excluding the steep slowdown in sales that occurred in May 2020 near the start of the pandemic. The national median home price rose 6.6% in October from a year earlier to $379,100.

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