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Consumer borrowing drops for third month

WASHINGTON --- Consumer borrowing fell for a third consecutive month in December, the longest stretch since a seven-month plunge that ended in December 1991.

The Federal Reserve said Friday that consumer borrowing dropped at an annual rate of 3.1 percent in December. The $6.6 billion decline was nearly double what analysts expected. It came after an $11 billion drop in November that was the biggest monthly plunge on records going back to 1943.

The weakness in December reflected a big 7.8 percent decline in the category that includes credit card debt, and a 0.2 percent drop in the category that includes auto loans.

Ticketmaster, concert promoter to merge

LOS ANGELES --- A proposed merger of concert promoter Live Nation Inc. and ticketing giant Ticketmaster Entertainment Inc. is expected to be announced within days, but antitrust concerns could delay its completion.

The deal would match the world's dominant ticket seller, Ticketmaster, with Live Nation, which was once its biggest client. Live Nation is the world's No. 1 concert promoter, owns 140-plus venues and has multiyear comprehensive rights deals covering the tours of Madonna, Jay-Z, U2, Nickelback and Shakira.

Live Nation ended a long-term contract to sell tickets through Ticketmaster last year and launched its own ticketing service for its venues in January. That threatened to siphon at least 15 percent of Ticketmaster's revenue and had set the two companies up for a head-to-head fight to win ticketing contracts.

A merger would quell that fight -- which could raise the ire of regulators, experts said.

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