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Stocks higher...Praxair and Linde merger...Companies bow to pressure on on-call shift scheduling

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NEW YORK (AP) — Gains for banks and travel companies are pulling U.S. stock indexes to record levels in afternoon trading. Travel companies like cruise lines and travel websites are giving consumer-focused companies a lift, and financial firms are rising thanks to a recovery in bond yields and interest rates. The Dow rose 92 points as of 1:10 p.m. Eastern time -- and earlier peaked just 13 points shy of the 20,000 point mark. The S&P gained 8 points and the Nasdaq composite added 25 points.

NEW YORK (AP) — Industrial gas company Praxair is trading lower on Wall Street after announcing it will combine with Germany's Linde AG in an all-stock deal. According to the firms, the combined company will be worth some $65 billion. Linde and Praxair began talking about a possible deal in August, but a few weeks later Linde said they'd failed to agree on details. Praxair was down 4 percent in afternoon trading.

HONOLULU (AP) - President Barack Obama is expected to order wide swaths of the Atlantic and Arctic oceans placed permanently off-limits for oil drilling in a last-minute push for environmental protection before he leaves office. People who've been briefed on the plan say an announcement is expected today. The move would help put some finishing touches on Obama's environmental legacy while also challenging Donald Trump. The president-elect has promised to unleash the nation's untapped oil and natural gas reserves.

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Disney and Aeropostale are among six retailers that have agreed to stop using on-call shift scheduling following an inquiry by a coalition of attorneys general. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says an estimated 50,000 workers nationwide will benefit from the agreement. On-call shift scheduling requires employees to call work before a scheduled shift to find out if they have to go in that day. Rounding out the six companies are Carter's, David's Tea, PacSun and Zumiez.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Uber is blaming a computer glitch for overcharging a "handful" of customers -- some by a whole lot -- like a Philadelphia woman whose bank blocked an attempt to charge her more than $28,000 for a ride. The woman says she got an email from Uber warning her that her financial information had been hacked. Six days later, the company told her it was wrong and that the charge stemmed from a computer glitch. Uber's engineering team says it's working to fix the problem.

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