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TOP STORIES:

FED-CHAIRMAN-BATTLE

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. — Bette Midler wouldn't normally be expected to trumpet her opinion on who should be the next chairman of the Federal Reserve. This time is different. A battle over what is arguably the world's most powerful economic post has turned into an unusually public struggle over two renowned economists — Fed Vice Chair Janet Yellen and former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers. While the principals have kept mum, their warring camps have waged a battle that's riled Congress, spawned opinion columns and sparked commentary from notables like the Divine Miss M. By Martin Crutsinger.

AP photo.

BOOMER WEDDINGS

NEW YORK — Only a few years ago, it was considered in poor taste for a bride over age 50, particularly if she had been previously married, to do things like wear a fancy wedding gown, rock out to a DJ at the reception or have the groom slip a lacy garter belt off of her leg. But those days are gone: Seniors no longer are tying the knot in subtle ways. By Business Writer Anne D'Innocenzio.

AP photos, video.

WAL-MART-SUPPLIERS

ORLANDO, Fla. — Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is hoping for a groundswell "made-in-America" movement. The world's largest retailer is hosting its first two-day summit starting Thursday bringing together retailers, suppliers and government officials that it hopes will build on its recent commitment to drive more manufacturing in the U.S. By Anne D'Innocenzio and Mike Schneider. Eds: Developing from 1 p.m. ET meeting.

AP photos planned.

GEEKY RIDES

ORLANDO, Fla. — Are theme parks going geeky? Several attractions that opened this summer differed from an earlier generation of attractions, when Dumbo the Flying Elephant was considered high-tech. Instead, these rides involve obscure characters and complicated story lines, like World of Chima at Legoland, based on a Lego toy and Cartoon Network show, with references to the "Chi" life force. When did fun become so complicated? By Tamara Lush.

AP photos.

CHINA-FLIGHT DELAYS

HONG KONG — China's fast-growing air travel market is the world's second-biggest. But when it comes to flight delays, it's No. 1. As few as a fifth of all flights out of Beijing leave on time. Delays are so frequent and lengthy that scenes of travelers smashing up check-in desks, brawling with staff or storming the tarmac have verged on commonplace. The chronic delays underscore the challenges for China's domestic carriers as they strive to meet booming passenger demand. By Kelvin Chan.

AP photos.

EGYPT-TOURISM

CAIRO — Riots and killings that spiked after the Aug. 14 crackdown against followers of ousted President Mohammed Morsi have delivered a severe blow to Egypt's tourism industry, which until recently accounted for more than 11 percent of the country's gross domestic product and nearly 20 percent of its foreign currency revenue. By Kirsten Grieshaber and Aya Batrawy.

AP photos.

MARKETS & ECONOMY:

NASDAQ-TRADING HALT

NEW YORK — Trading has been halted in Nasdaq-listed securities because of a technical problem. The exchange sent out an alert to traders at 12:20 p.m. EDT saying that trading was being halted until further notice because of problems with a quote dissemination system. Eds: Developing.

WALL STREET

NEW YORK — Stocks rise on Wall Street, breaking a six-day losing streak, after encouraging economic figures from Asia and Europe boost the outlook for global growth. Trading on Nasdaq-listed securities is halted due to a technical glitch. By Steve Rothwell.

AP photo.

UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS

WASHINGTON —The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits rose last week after reaching the lowest level in 5 ½ years. But the broader trend suggests companies are laying off fewer workers and could step up hiring in the months ahead. By Christopher S. Rugaber.

— LEADING INDICATORS — A gauge of the U.S. economy's health rose in July, pointing to stronger growth in the second half of the year. The Conference Board says its index of leading indicators increased 0.6 percent last month to a reading of 96.0. By Marcy Gordon.

— MORTGAGE RATES — Average U.S. rates for fixed mortgages rose this week to their highest levels in two years, driven by heightened speculation that the Federal Reserve will slow its bond purchases later this year. By Marcy Gordon.

— OIL PRICES — A rebound in manufacturing in China and Europe and falling U.S. stockpiles of crude pushed the price of oil above $104 a barrel Thursday.

— NYC COMPTROLLER-NETFLIX — New York City's public pension funds have pushed this year for independent board chairs at several U.S. corporations, winning the shareholder vote at Netflix.

RETAIL:

EARNS-SEARS

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. — It was another bad quarter for Sears Holdings Corp. The beleaguered retailer, which operates Kmart and Sears, says its second-quarter loss widened as the company continued to struggle with weak sales and deep discounts. By Anne D'Innocenzio and Michelle Chapman.

AP photo.

— JC PENNEY-POISON PILL — Struggling retailer J.C. Penney is adopting a "poison pill" to protect itself from takeover just two days after reporting its sixth straight quarter of big losses and steep revenue declines.

— EARNS-ABERCROMBIE & FITCH — Abercrombie & Fitch is the latest retailer to catch a case of the teenage blues. Declining traffic and weakness in girls' clothing push net income down 33 percent, missing analysts' estimates.

— EARNS-GAP — Gap Inc. reports quarterly financial results after the close of trading.

— HALO SLEEPSACK-RECALL — Baby products maker Halo is recalling 27,000 of its SleepSack wearable blankets due to a choking hazard.

INDUSTRY:

— CANCELED CRUISE SAILING — Hundreds of tourists have their vacation plans scuttled as Royal Caribbean cruises Ltd. has to cancel six Alaska sailings due to mechanical problems aboard the 965-foot Milennium.

— ELI LILLY-KICKBACK ALLEGATIONS — Eli Lilly and Co. has spent millions of dollars on kickbacks to doctors in China for new patients who started using the drugmaker's insulin products, according to a report from a Chinese newspaper.

— REGADO BIOSCIENCES-IPO — Shares of Regado Biosciences Inc. soar in their trading debut.

— ARGENTINA-AIRLINES — Shares in Latin America's largest passenger carrier have taken a big hit as LATAM Airlines faces what one analyst calls a "perfect storm" of bad news.

TECHNOLOGY & MEDIA:

DIGITAL LIFE-TECH TEST-LONG-BATTERY LAPTOPS

NEW YORK — Just in time for the back-to-school season, new laptops with extended battery life are hitting store shelves. The key to all this is a new family of Intel chips called Haswell. Apple's MacBook Air and three Windows machines reviewed all deliver on promised battery life, even exceeding it at times. The catch: Slim, light laptops with Haswell chips cost more than $1,000. Cheaper laptops will be heavier or come with older chips lacking the battery performance. By Anick Jesdanun.

AP photos.

BRAZIL-BOYFRIEND TRACKER

RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazilians were outraged when they learned their country was a top target of the U.S. National Security Agency's overseas spying operation. Yet when it comes to the cloak-and-dagger effort of catching philandering lovers, all high-tech weapons appear to be fair game — at least to the tens of thousands of Brazilians who downloaded "Boyfriend Tracker" to their smartphones before the stealthy software was removed from the Google Play app store last week. By Jenny Barchfield.

AP photo.

— CHINA-TABLET MARKET — Apple's grip on China's tablet market has loosened as Asian tech companies increase sales with cheaper Android tablet computers. Research firm IDC says Apple supplied 28 percent of tablet computers in China during the April-June quarter, down from 49 percent dominance a year earlier. By Youkyung Lee.

— BRITAIN-SNOWDEN JOURNALIST — A British court rules that if national security issues are at stake, the U.K. government may look through items seized from the partner of a journalist who has written stories about documents leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

INTERNATIONAL:

CHINA-NEW-ZEALAND-MILK-SAFETY

BEIJING — New Zealand's leaders are on a charm offensive to reassure Chinese consumers after a botulism scare threatened sales in a major market for New Zealand milk. China's demand for imported milk soared after domestic supplies in 2008 killed six babies and sickened thousands. That fit New Zealand's ambitions as a food supplier to booming Asian economies. But the announcement by Fonterra, the world's biggest dairy exporter, of contamination in an ingredient used in baby formula threw up a potentially damaging obstacle. By Joe McDonald.

AP photos.

CHINA-MANUFACTURING

BEIJING — China's manufacturing slowdown stabilizes in August in another possible sign the world's second-largest economy is improving. The surprise uptick in China's manufacturing output helps lift some stock markets out of the doldrums. By Joe McDonald.

— BRITAIN-INSURANCE — British financial regulators strike a deal to give consumers as much as 1.3 billion pounds ($2 billion) in compensation after they were improperly sold credit card insurance.

— EUROPE-FINANCIAL CRISIS — Chancellor Angela Merkel's opponents are assailing her credibility after her finance minister said Greece will need a third bailout package — injecting Europe's debt crisis for the first time into the campaign for next month's German elections.

— CHINA-EARNS-PETROCHINA — State-owned PetroChina's half-year profit rose to nearly $11 billion as Asia's biggest oil producer increased output of crude and natural gas.

— NETHERLANDS-EARNS-AHOLD — Royal Ahold NV, the Dutch operator of US supermarket chains Stop & Shop and Giant, says its underlying profit rose in the second quarter due to slow but steady economic growth.

— CHINA-BO XILAI-TWEETS — Much of China is riveted to the stream of Twitter-like updates from the trial of disgraced politician Bo Xilai. AP photo

PERSONAL FINANCE:

OF MUTUAL INTEREST-MUNI BOND FUNDS

Municipal bonds usually don't get much attention unless something's wrong. They're getting attention, again. Investors have been running away from bonds issued by state and local governments for months, even though they offer tax-free income. The market's drop is reminiscent of a selloff that smacked municipal bonds in late 2010 and early 2011. But now, like then, managers of municipal-bond mutual funds say the worries have created a buying opportunity. By Stan Choe.

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CENTERPIECE

In the bags

Coach could use some coaching. Stock in the upscale handbag and accessories retailer rebounded sharply following the recession, but momentum shifted and shares are down 34 percent from an all-time high in March 2012. A turnaround might not be quick, but several financial analysts say it's premature to sell.

COMPANY SPOTLIGHT

Sears 2Q loss widens

Sears Holdings continues to struggle. The retailer, which operates Kmart and Sears, reported a steeper second-quarter loss than a year earlier.