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Morning Market Roundup: Google Drops $75M on Wind Farm, United Airlines Systems Down -- Again

Here’s what’s important in the business world this morning:

Google: Google is investing $75 million in an Iowa wind farm as part of its effort to encourage development of cleaner energy sources.

The deal announced Thursday gives Google Inc. a stake in the Ropey Wind Farm in Greene County, Iowa. RPM Access LLC is the primary owner.

The wind farm is located about 130 miles northeast of Council Bluffs, Iowa, which is home to one the eight data centers that power Google's Internet search engine and other services.

The Iowa data center won't be getting power from the wind farm. Google's investments in renewable energy now exceed $990 million.

United Airlines: Thousands of United Airlines passengers around the globe are stranded at airports and on planes after another computer outage at the world's largest carrier.

This is at least the third major computer outage for the Chicago-based airline since June.

United Continental Holdings Inc. spokesman Charles Hobart said the airline was aware of a computer issue affecting some of its flights and was working to resolve it.

Passengers are being told by pilots and airport agents that computers are down and they don't know when the system will come back. Some fliers have been waiting nearly 2 hours to depart.

United has been struggling with technology problems since March, when it switched to a passenger information computer system that was previously used by Continental. United and Continental merged in 2010. That system, called "Shares," has needed extensive reworking since March to make it easier for workers to use.

Consumer Prices: Rising food costs and higher rents offset a drop in gas prices last month, leaving consumer inflation all but flat in October.

The consumer price index rose a seasonally adjusted 0.1 percent in October, the Labor Department said Thursday. That's down from sharp gains of 0.6 percent in the previous two months, which were driven by a spike in gas prices that has since receded.

Gas prices fell 0.6 percent last month. Food prices rose 0.2 percent, pushed higher by steep increases in milk and cheese costs.

Excluding volatile food and gas, prices increased 0.2 percent last month.

The cost of shelter, which includes rents, rose 0.3 percent, the most in more than four years. Rental vacancies have declined in recent months, pushing rents higher. Hotel costs also increased last month.

Clothes and airline fares also rose last month. The price of new and used cars fell.

U.S. Futures: Stock indexes are inching higher in early trading Thursday after two giant U.S. retailers turned in mixed earnings reports.

Wal-Mart's stock dropped $3.37 to $67.94 after the retailer issued a weak forecast for fourth-quarter profits. Target's profit rose but the company also said sales increased at a slower pace than last year. Target's stock edged up less than 1 percent.

The Dow Jones industrial average moved between small gains and losses shortly after the opening bell. As of 10 a.m. it was up seven points at 12,582. The Standard & Poor's 500 index was up three points at 1,358 and the Nasdaq composite was up three at 2,850.

Stocks have fallen since the Presidential election last week, when voters returned President Barack Obama and a divided Congress to power. Concern that political wrangling will stop lawmakers from reaching a deal on reducing the budget deficit has prompted the selling. The Dow lost 5 percent from Election Day, Nov. 6, through Wednesday's close.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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