Business news in brief

In the Region

Mega-drug deal proceeding

Pfizer Inc. and Allergan Plc are making progress on the year's biggest acquisition and are working toward agreeing on a deal as early as next month, sources said. Separately, Allergan is selling its generic-drug unit to Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., whose Americas business is based in Montgomery County. The drugmakers are keen on a friendly deal and hope to agree on the terms of the takeover, including who will lead the combined company, by Thanksgiving, the sources said, asking not to be identified as the discussions are private. - Bloomberg News

Elsewhere

Target: Free holiday shipping

Target Corp. is bringing back free delivery for the holidays, a strategy it hopes will give it an edge over Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which is eschewing special shipping offers and encouraging online shoppers to pick up items at stores. Target.com will offer free shipping and returns on all items starting Sunday, an enticement to get shoppers to buy holiday gifts on the site, the Minneapolis-based company said Thursday. At Walmart.com, customers who spend less than $50 will either have to pay for shipping or arrange to have their items sent free to a store. - Bloomberg News

SEC allows online stock sales

Start-ups and other small businesses will be free to raise money by selling stock over the Internet under new rules adopted by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Equity crowdfunding standards approved by a 3-1 vote Friday lay out how such firms can raise as much as $1 million annually by offering shares to investors online. The funding model is based on platforms such as those developed by Kickstarter Inc. and Indiegogo Inc. that allow entrepreneurs, artists, and engineers to solicit donations for projects that include virtual-reality headsets and music festivals. - Bloomberg News

Stocks fade at end of month

U.S. stocks faded late in October's final session, paring the strongest monthly gain since 2011 as weaker-than-estimated quarterly results weighed on financial and consumer staples shares. The pace of the October advance leveled off after stocks on Wednesday pushed to their highest since August, capping a robust rally in a more stoic fashion. Energy and raw-material firms added to their gains in the month's final session, with ExxonMobil Corp. and Chevron Corp. rising. The Dow Jones industrial average closed at 17,663.54, down 92.26. The Nasdaq market dropped 20.53 to close at 5,053.75. And the S&P 500 closed at 2,079.36, down 10.05. - Bloomberg News