Business Highlights

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As stocks rise, so does anxiety: Time to get out?

NEW YORK (AP) — The market has nearly tripled in a little over five years, and with each record close, the temptation grows to take your winnings and flee. If only you had done that in the crashes that began in 2000 and 2008, you might be a lot richer.

Plenty of experts think stocks are about to drop. But many others offer compelling arguments for the rally to continue for years.

Remember, though, that even the best investors find it nearly impossible to time the market to catch the lows and highs.

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Malaysia Airlines to cut 6,000 staff in overhaul

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysia Airlines will cut 6,000 workers as part of a $1.9 billion overhaul announced Friday to revive its damaged brand after being hit by double passenger jet disasters.

The staff reduction represents about 30 per cent of its current workforce of 20,000. A search for a new CEO is underway but there is no move to change the airline’s name, which some branding experts have said was necessary for a successful makeover.

Khazanah Nasional, the state investment company that owns 69 per cent of the airline, said the overhaul includes the establishment of a new company that will take over the existing Malaysia Airlines business and its reduced staff.

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German economic fears growing but Merkel strong

BERLIN (AP) — Ordinary Germans are spooked about the future. Businesses are starting to see black clouds on the horizon. And an economy that has been the envy of Europe is showing cracks, shrinking unexpectedly last quarter amid the conflict in Ukraine.

It might seem like enough to put any leader into trouble. But Chancellor Angela Merkel’s popularity remains sky-high, with nobody in sight to touch her.

It shows the German public is prepared to endure some hardships — such as a rise in energy costs if the sanctions war with Russia escalates — as long as Merkel is seen as dealing strongly with the crisis.

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Startups offer banking for smartphone users

NEW YORK (AP) — The latest banks are small enough to fit in the palm of your hand.

Startups, such as Moven and Simple, offer banking that’s designed specifically for smartphones, enabling users to track their spending on the go.

Some things haven’t changed. Like traditional banks, customers open a checking account, get a debit card and are able to make check deposits and pay their bills. Like many Internet banks before them, they have no maintenance or overdraft fees, there are no physical branches and depositing cash is a challenge.

What makes Moven and Simple different is their apps. Every time a debit card is swiped at a store, a notification is sent to the phone letting the user know how much was spent and how much money is left in the account.

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Russian fund with US advisers eludes sanctions

WASHINGTON (AP) — As President Barack Obama warns of stepped-up economic punishments against Russia for its military incursions inside Ukraine, U.S. sanctions have so far avoided one prominent financial institution: the $10 billion Russian Direct Investment Fund, which has partnered with brand-name American companies and whose advisers include top U.S. and European private equity executives.

Despite its ties to Russian state businesses and officials, the Russian Direct Investment Fund has managed to operate unaffected by the sanctions imposed by the U.S. and EU in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s military actions in Ukraine.

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US consumer spending dips 0.1 per cent

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. consumer spending fell in July, with a drop in auto purchases accounting for most of the weakness. Income growth also slowed.

Consumer spending edged down 0.1 per cent last month after a 0.4 per cent increase in June, the Commerce Department reported Friday. It was the first decline in spending since January. Income growth slowed to 0.2 per cent in July, the weakest showing in seven months.

Consumer spending accounts for 70 per cent of economic activity, so it needs to recover for the economy to keep its momentum in the second half of the year.

Economists had expected spending would slow in July based on reports of weak retail sales, but they said the slowdown should be temporary given the fact that job growth has been so strong.

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Feds reviewing Reynolds’ deal to buy Lorillard

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Federal regulators are putting Camel cigarette maker Reynolds American Inc.’s planned $25 billion takeover of rival Newport maker Lorillard Inc. under the microscope.

The nation’s second-biggest tobacco company said Friday that the Federal Trade Commission has asked for additional information as part of an antitrust review of the deal.

The combination of two of the nation’s oldest and biggest tobacco companies would create a formidable No. 2 to rival Altria Group Inc., owner of Marlboro maker Philip Morris USA.

Meanwhile, the U.K.’s Imperial Tobacco Group would triple its share of the U.S. cigarette market by buying some of the companies’ other brands for $7.1 billion.

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Chinese e-commerce rivals challenge Alibaba

BEIJING (AP) — China’s biggest property developer, Wanda Group, and Internet giants Baidu and Tencent unveiled a new e-commerce venture Friday in a challenge to industry leader Alibaba Group ahead of its U.S. stock offering.

The three companies said they will integrate online and offline selling, with e-commerce services in Wanda’s 107 shopping malls, as well as its hotels and resorts. They said they would invest 5 billion yuan ($814 million) to start.

The venture adds to competition for Alibaba, whose Taobao, Tmall and other platforms account for some 80 per cent of Chinese online commerce. The company is preparing for a U.S. initial public offering that analysts say might value it between $150 billion and $200 billion.

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New challenge for HealthCare.gov: Tax forms

WASHINGTON (AP) — The federal agency that had trouble launching a health insurance website last fall has a massive new project. Any glitches on this one could delay tax refunds for many Americans.

The Department of Health and Human Services must send out millions of new tax forms next year that are like W-2s for people getting health insurance tax credits under President Barack Obama’s law.

If the forms are delayed past their Jan. 31 deadline, some people may have to wait to file tax returns and collect their refunds.

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones Industrial average gained 18.88 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 17,098.45. The S&P 500 index finished up 6.63 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 2,003.37. The Nasdaq composite added 22.58 points, or 0.5 per cent, to 4,580.27.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose $1.41 to close at $95.96 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, rose 73 cents to close at $103.19 on the ICE Futures exchange in London. Wholesale gasoline rose 3 cents to close at $2.783 a gallon. Natural gas rose 2.1 cents to close at $4.065 per 1,000 cubic feet. Heating oil rose 0.8 cent to close at $2.857 a gallon.

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