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Stocks drift lower...Court allows Arizona Medicaid lawsuit...California citrus avoids freeze

By The Associated Press | Posted - Dec. 31, 2014 at 12:11 p.m.



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NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are drifting lower in light New Year's Eve trading on Wall Street, but the market remains on pace for its sixth consecutive year of gains. Trading has been slow because most fund managers have closed their books for the year. Energy stocks moved lower as the price of oil fell below $53 a barrel in New York, with oil drillers falling the most. Diamond Offshore was the biggest decliner in the S&P 500, declining more than 2 percent.

PHOENIX (AP) — The Arizona Supreme Court is allowing a lawsuit challenging Gov. Jan Brewer's Medicaid expansion to proceed. The court ruled today that state lawmakers can sue over a hospital assessment that funds the expansion. Republican lawmakers sued after the expansion passed with a bare majority in 2013, arguing that the assessment is essentially a tax, which requires a two-thirds majority vote to pass. The case now returns to a trial court. Lawyers representing 36 Republican lawmakers plan to ask the county judge to halt the assessment immediately.

EXETER, Calif. (AP) — Citrus growers in California's San Joaquin Valley say potentially damaging cold failed to materialize overnight. California Citrus Mutual President Joel Nelson says despite worrisome forecasts, very few locations dipped below 32 degrees for any period of time. Only a few locations experienced short durations of cold temperatures that required some form of frost protection. Citrus is grown on more than 200,000 acres in the San Joaquin Valley and 75 percent of the crop is still on the trees.

NEW YORK (AP) — The ride-hailing app Uber expects tonight to be its busiest night ever. And to meet the high demand expected this New Year's Eve, Uber is bringing back its surge pricing. Fares can increase sevenfold or more during the busiest time of the night, which Uber says will be between 12:30 a.m. and 2:30 a.m. Both Uber and rival service Lyft say they'll make a donation to Mothers Against Drunk Driving when clients enter a certain promo code.

NEW YORK (AP) — CBS retained its customary audience lead during a holiday week of mostly reruns mixed with football. The Nielsen ratings company says CBS claimed 12 of the top 20 prime-time programs last week, with an average audience of 6.1 million viewers overall. NBC was right behind with 5.9 million, followed by ABC, Fox and Univision. NBC had the most-watched broadcast, the NFL faceoff between Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, seen by nearly 21 million viewers.

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The Associated Press

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