Business Highlights

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US companies increasingly fish for growth overseas

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Major U.S. companies are starting to reap their most rapid growth in fertile lands of opportunity far from home.

Technology trendsetters Apple Inc., Google Inc., Facebook Inc. and Netflix Inc. all mined foreign countries to produce earnings or revenue that exceeded analysts’ projections in their latest quarters. Prodded by the steadily rising demand for Internet access and online services in developing countries, these technology companies will likely be wading even deeper into overseas markets for years to come.

The intensifying international focus extends beyond technology. Century-old companies such as Coca-Cola Co. and Ford Motor Co. also are hoping to make more money in countries including China and India.

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Dollar Tree steps up fight, buys Family Dollar

NEW YORK (AP) — The fight for penny pinchers is intensifying.

Dollar Tree said Monday it is buying rival discounter Family Dollar for $8.5 billion, significantly broadening its reach as it looks to fend off Wal-Mart, which has been stepping up its courtship of lower-income customers

The deal makes Dollar Tree the biggest player in the dollar store segment, with its more than 13,000 combined locations eclipsing current leader Dollar General Corp., which has about 11,300.

Dollar stores grew during the recession as people across income groups searched for cheaper options. To attract a broader array of customers, they also expanded their offerings to include more groceries and brand-name products, instead of just the party favours and other knickknacks people often associated with them.

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Zillow buying Trulia to build real estate titan

NEW YORK (AP) — Zillow and Trulia, two companies that changed the way people shop for homes, are combining.

Real estate website operator Zillow Inc. is buying its rival in a $3.5 billion deal that will make the biggest player in the online real estate information market.

Zillow will also become king of real estate listings available on smartphones and tablets — the fastest growing area for listings. Both Zillow and Trulia were founded nearly a decade ago and have capitalized on Americans’ increasing preference for researching purchases, including homes, online, rather than relying solely on a real estate agent.

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Russia ordered to pay $50 billion over Yukos

LONDON (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government must pay $50 billion for using tax claims to destroy Yukos, once the country’s largest oil producer, and its Kremlin-critical CEO, an international court has ruled.

Monday’s verdict by the Permanent Court for Arbitration increases the economic and diplomatic isolation of Russia at a time when it faces new, potentially painful sanctions from Western powers.

The court, a body that rules on corporate disputes, said the Russian government owes the money — a huge sum, even for such an oil-rich nation— to the former majority shareholders in Yukos Oil Co.

Moscow vowed to fight the decision, raising the prospect of a new round of legal battles as the shareholders seek to enforce the decision by seizing Russian state-owned assets in 150 countries around the world.

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Lloyds bank settles with US, UK over market fixing

LONDON (AP) — Lloyds Banking Group is paying $369 million to U.S. and British authorities to settle allegations it manipulated a key global interest rate.

Lloyds, one of the world’s largest banks, on Monday became the sixth financial firm sanctioned in the international rate-rigging scandal. The U.S. and British regulators said Lloyds attempted to manipulate, and in some cases succeeded, in manipulating the London interbank offered rate, known as LIBOR.

The LIBOR, the rate used by banks to borrow from each other, affects trillions of dollars in contracts around the world, including mortgages, bonds and consumer loans.

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Contracts to buy US homes slip in June

WASHINGTON (AP) — Fewer Americans signed contracts to buy homes in June, as the real estate market appears to have cooled off this summer.

The National Association of Realtors said Monday that its seasonally adjusted pending home sales index slipped 1.1 per cent to 102.7 last month. The index remains 7.3 per cent below its level a year ago.

Sales have been slowed by a mix of meagre wage growth, rising home prices, and mortgage rates that rose steadily through the end of last year.

Pending sales are a barometer of future purchases. A one- to two-month lag usually exists between a contract and a completed sale.

Signed contracts in June fell in the Northeast and South. They rose slightly in the Midwest and West. Pending sales in all four U.S. regions are below last year’s pace.

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Darden CEO to step down amid Olive Garden troubles

NEW YORK (AP) — Darden Restaurants says CEO and Chairman Clarence Otis is stepping down as the company fights to fix its flagship Olive Garden chain following the sale of Red Lobster.

The company, based in Orlando, Florida, also says it’s changing its corporate policies to split the chairman and CEO roles.

Darden said Monday that it appointed its current lead independent director, Charles Ledsinger, Jr., as independent non-executive chairman, effective immediately. Otis will serve as CEO until a successor is named, or Dec. 31, whichever comes first.

Darden Restaurants Inc. had been under fire for failing to turn around declining sales at Olive Garden and Red Lobster. Earlier on Monday, it said its contested sale of Red Lobster was finalized.

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Tyson to sell Mexico, Brazil poultry operations

SPRINGDALE, Ark. (AP) — Tyson Foods plans to sell its poultry businesses in Mexico and Brazil for $575 million in cash to help pay debt from its recently announced acquisition of Hillshire Brands.

The Springdale, Arkansas, meat processor said Monday that it still plans to expand its international operations, especially in Asia, but the businesses it will sell didn’t have the scale to gain leading positions in their markets. Tyson made the announcement the same day it reported fiscal third-quarter earnings that climbed more than 4 per cent but missed analyst expectations.

Tyson Foods Inc. said it expects the sale of its Mexico and Brazil operations to JBS SA will be completed by the end of the year. JBS SA is the parent of JBS USA Holdings Inc., which owns Pilgrim’s Pride. Tyson’s Mexican business will be acquired through Pilgrim’s Pride.

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Virgin America files plans for IPO

NEW YORK (AP) — Virgin America’s next destination is Wall Street.

The California-based airline filed on Monday for an initial public offering of shares.

Virgin America Inc., which operates out of Los Angeles and San Francisco, flies to 22 airports in the United States and Mexico and has a fleet of 53 planes. It is known for offering a variety of perks on its jets, including live TV, movies, leather seats and purple mood lighting.

But it’s still a small player. Virgin America carried 6.3 million passengers last year, less than one per cent of the total passengers that flew on U.S. airlines. And its fleet is a tiny fraction of what larger carriers have. For instance, United Airlines has more than 1,200 aircraft in its fleet. Virgin America was founded in 2004 but wasn’t approved for flying until the summer of 2007.

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Meat supplier: China unit fell short of standards

BEIJING (AP) — A U.S. meat supplier said Monday a Chinese subsidiary embroiled in a safety scandal fell short of its requirements for maintaining high standards.

The president of OSI Group, David G. McDonald, declined to give details of what the company has found at Shanghai Husi Food Co. A Shanghai TV station reported last week that Husi sold expired beef and chicken to restaurants including McDonald’s and KFC.

The Chinese food safety agency said last week its investigators found unspecified illegal activity and police detained five employees of Husi including its product quality manager. But the government and OSI have yet to confirm publicly whether it sold expired meat.

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones Industrial average rose 22.02 points, 0.1 per cent, to 16,982.59. The S&P 500 index edged up 0.57 of a point, or 0.03 per cent, to close at 1,978.91. The Nasdaq composite slipped 4.65 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 4,444.91.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell 42 cents to $101.67 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, fell 82 cents to $107.57 on the ICE Futures exchange in London. Wholesale gasoline fell 1.6 cents to $2.85 a gallon. Natural gas lost 3.4 cents to $3.75 per 1,000 cubic feet. Heating oil slipped 2.8 cents to $2.89 a gallon.

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