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Top News Links: Wednesday, Jan. 11

Sessions move in Washington stirs Alabama political pot

If, as is broadly expected in Washington, Jeff Sessions is confirmed as attorney general by his Senate colleagues, embattled Alabama governor Robert Bentley will have an extraordinary plum to offer someone. He will appoint a temporary replacement for Sessions in the Senate and then schedule a special election — perhaps in 2017, perhaps not until the regular election year of 2018 — to complete Sessions’s term, which runs through 2020. – NY Magazine

Airbus increases production with Alabama plant

Airbus delivered a record number of planes last year despite engine and cabin production problems, even as new orders slumped for both the European manufacturer and its U.S. rival Boeing. An unlikely customer provided a big boost to the industry in 2016: Iran, scheduled to receive its first Airbus plane in years Wednesday as part of a multibillion-dollar deal made possible by a hard-fought nuclear agreement. – AP/Bismark Tribune

Survey suggests small business optimism surging

Small business optimism rocketed to its highest level since 2004, with a stratospheric 38-point jump in the number of owners who expect better business conditions, according to the monthly National Federation of Independent Business Index of Small Business Optimism, released Tuesday. “We haven’t seen numbers like this in a long time,” said NFIB President and CEO Juanita Duggan. – News release

Toyota exec: Don’t write off midsize cars yet

Midsize cars were among the biggest sales losers last year as customers flocked instead to crossovers and other light trucks. But good old competition may reinvigorate the segment as soon as next year, when Japan’s big three roll out redesigns of their flagship four-doors. – Automotive News

Southern Makers festival moving to Birmingham

The popular festival Southern Makers will move from Montgomery to Birmingham this year.  This will be the fifth year of the festival, which showcases goods and products of more than 200 of Alabama's farmers, builders, artists designers and craftspeople. – AL.com

Wal-Mart plans layoffs to up efficiency

Walmart is planning a round of layoffs, with most of the cuts coming at the chain's Bentonville, Arkansas-headquarters and regional offices. The cuts will come before Jan. 31, the end of the retailer's current fiscal year. As many as 500 employees - some as high as vice president-level - could lose their jobs with other reductions planned for the human resources department. – AL.com

Refinancing arranged for Birmingham’s Summit

Holliday Fenoglio Fowler announced today that it has arranged refinancing for The Summit, a 1.03 million-square-foot, trophy retail center with Class A office space in Birmingham. HFF worked on behalf of the borrower, a partnership between Bayer Properties LLC and Institutional Mall Investors LLC, a co-investment venture co-owned by Miller Capital Advisory, Inc. and CalPERS, to place the 10-year, fixed-rate loan with Bank of America. – BusinessWire

Hostages unharmed after gunman takes over credit union

A group of hostages was freed, unharmed, and a man with a gun was arrested Tuesday at a credit union branch near the University of Alabama, police said. Lt. Teena Richardson, a Tuscaloosa police spokeswoman, said the incident ended peacefully when about eight hostages believed to be credit union workers were released after officers entered the building. The standoff happened at an Alabama Credit Union branch across the street from the university law school. – AP/ABC

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