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Bad day for geeks: Tech disruptions plague United, NYSE, WSJ

NEW YORK (AP) — It was a rough day for technology: The nation’s biggest airline, its oldest stock exchange, and its most prominent business newspaper all suffered technology problems that upended service for parts of the day.

Government officials said that it did not appear that the incidents were related, or the result of sabotage, counter to an endless stream of jokes and conspiracy theories posted on Facebook and Twitter — and even the suspicions of FBI director James Comey.

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As China market sinks, limited exposure to outside investors

NEW YORK (AP) — Chinese officials are scrambling to stop a plunge in the country’s stock market, shutting down half of its market from skittish investors and forcing brokerages to pony up billions to prop up shares.

The Shanghai composite lost another 5.9 per cent Wednesday and is now down more than 30 per cent since peaking June 12.

The impact on Chinese investors is direct, but for investors in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere, it’s not as simple. China’s market is largely isolated from other world exchanges, but there are worries the financial damage could hurt the broader Chinese economy, which is the second-largest in the world.

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A new Greek currency? High-tech clicks and low-tech printing

WASHINGTON (AP) — With each day, the likelihood is growing that Greece’s financial catastrophe will force it out of the euro currency alliance and compel it to restore its old currency, the drachma.

It won’t be simple.

Even in a computer age, issuing a new national currency is a complex logistical task involving equal parts digital commands and manual labour.

Greece would have to reprogram banks’ computers to make the switch out of euros, the currency it’s used since 2002. Then it would need to design, print and distribute new bills. That process would likely take at least six months.

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Strong sales, but high abandonment for fitness trackers

NEW YORK (AP) — Deepak Jayasimha’s fitness tracker is now with his father-in-law in India, where it sits unused. Annabel Kelly foisted hers off on the kids. Virginia Atkinson took hers off to charge the battery and hasn’t picked it up since February.

Although sales of Fitbit and other fitness trackers are strong, many of their owners lose enthusiasm for them once the novelty of knowing how many steps they’ve taken wears off. One research firm, Endeavour Partners, estimates that about a third of these trackers get abandoned after six months. A health care investment fund, Rock Health, says Fitbit’s regulatory filings suggest that only half of Fitbit’s nearly 20 million registered users were still active as of the first quarter of 2015.

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Jared raid is only Subway’s latest problem

NEW YORK (AP) — A raid at the home of “Subway guy” Jared Fogle is just the latest trouble to hit the ubiquitous sandwich chain.

The company has been struggling with sales, its CEO was diagnosed with cancer and it’s trying to persuade customers that its food delivers value and quality ingredients.

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Regulators fine JPMorgan $136M for debt collection practices

WASHINGTON (AP) — JPMorgan Chase will pay $136 million to settle charges that it used illegal tactics to go after delinquent credit card borrowers, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced Wednesday.

The CFPB alleged the bank illegally relied on robo-signing — signing mass quantities of documents without verifying the data in those accounts — and provided inaccurate information to third-party debt collectors when it sold the accounts. The bureau also said that Chase filed misleading lawsuits using inaccurate information to obtain debt collection judgments – on accounts that were paid off, discharged in bankruptcy, or otherwise were uncollectable.

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Fed officials in June wary of looming economic risks

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Reserve policymakers last month saw signs that the economy was healing after its winter slump but agreed that there were still too many uncertainties at home and abroad to raise interest rates.

Minutes of the June 16-17 discussions released Wednesday showed that while one Fed official was ready to begin hiking rates at the meeting, “most participants” believed that conditions were not yet ripe for an interest rate increase.

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US consumer borrowing hits record high in May

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. consumer borrowing climbed to a record high in May, propelled by a surge in auto and student loans.

Consumer borrowing increased $16.1 billion following a gain of $21.4 billion in April, the Federal Reserve reported Wednesday. The April increase had been the strongest monthly increase since July 2014.

The gains pushed total borrowing to a fresh record of $3.4 trillion.

In May, borrowing in the category that includes autos and student loans rose by $14.5 billion. Borrowing in the category that covers credit cards rose by $1.6 billion after an increase of $8.5 billion in April.

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Lew sticking with plan to put woman on $10 bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew is sticking with his plan to replace Alexander Hamilton on the $10 bill with a woman.

Lew announced last month that as part of a redesign of the $10 note, he hoped to put a woman on the bill. The department called for the public to weigh in on who should be honoured. He said he expects a final decision soon.

The initial announcement to remove Hamilton triggered a public outcry.

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Craft sake is the latest trend that’s brewing in US

KITTERY, Maine (AP) — First came boutique wineries. Then microbreweries and craft distilleries. Now Japanese sake aficionados are hoping to transform the so-called “rice wine” into the next artisan alcohol-of-the-moment in the U.S.

Dan Ford, whose Maine-made sake is just hitting the market, has bet his retirement savings that consumers will be sold on his premium sake once they give it a try.

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APNewsBreak: Feds propose more safety valves for gas lines

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The Obama administration moved Wednesday to significantly expand a requirement for utilities to install inexpensive safety valves on gas lines across the U.S. following deadly fires and explosions going back decades that officials and safety advocates said could have been avoided.

The Transportation Department proposal would cover new or replaced natural gas lines serving multi-family dwellings, small businesses and homes not already covered under a 2009 mandate.

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Preserving jobs, pay raises on table as US auto talks open

LORDSTOWN, Ohio (AP) — The day before hundreds of United Auto Workers delegates gathered to set strategy for contract talks with the Detroit Three, General Motors sent them a not-so-subtle message.

GM announced a $350 million investment in a Mexican factory to build the Chevrolet Cruze compact car, currently built for all of North America at a sprawling plant in Lordstown, Ohio, east of Cleveland.

At Lordstown and 11 other GM assembly plants scattered across the U.S., some workers feared their jobs could be moving south. Others sensed pre-contract posturing.

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Microsoft cuts 7,800 jobs as phone sales flag

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Microsoft is cutting 7,800 jobs and writing off $7.6 billion in connection with its purchase of Nokia’s phone business, as the giant software maker tries to narrow its focus and pull back from a series of ill-fated forays onto rival tech companies’ turf.

The cuts announced Wednesday come on top of 18,000 jobs that Microsoft trimmed last year, just months after the company paid $7.3 billion for Nokia in the hope of expanding its footprint in the smartphone hardware business where Apple and Samsung are market leaders.

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FBI, Justice Dept. take encryption concerns to Congress

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal law enforcement officials warned Wednesday that data encryption is making it harder to hunt for pedophiles and terror suspects, telling senators that consumers’ right to privacy is not absolute and must be weighed against public-safety interests.

The testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee marked the latest front in a high-stakes dispute between the Obama administration and some of the world’s most influential tech companies, placing squarely before Congress an ongoing discussion that has shown no signs of an easy resolution. Senators, too, offered divided opinions.

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average dipped 261.49 points, or 1.5 per cent, to 17,515.42. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 34.66 points, or 1.7 per cent, to close at 2,046.68. The Nasdaq slid 87.70 points, or 1.8 per cent, to 4,909.76.

Benchmark U.S. crude fell 68 cents to close at $51.65 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, rose 20 cents to close at $57.05 in London. Wholesale gasoline rose 5 cents to close at $1.999 a gallon. Heating oil rose 0.4 cent to close at $1.715 a gallon. Natural gas fell 3.1 cents to close at $2.685 per 1,000 cubic feet.