Among the stories Thursday from The Associated Press:

Among the stories Thursday from The Associated Press:

TOP STORIES:

ECONOMY-NOT FEELING THE RECOVERY

WASHINGTON — The U.S. unemployment rate has plunged since the start of last year to a five-year low of 6.1 percent. Economists have forecast that the July jobs report being released Friday will show a sixth straight month of healthy 200,000-plus gains. Yet for many, happy days aren't quite here again. Gallup has found that consumers' view of the economy is the glummest it's been in seven months. As the recovery enters its sixth year, a number of factors explain why Americans don't feel the economy is near full health: Income hasn't rebounded. Millions are working part time even though they'd like full-time jobs. It's taking longer to find a job. Many feel pessimistic because of their political beliefs. And people don't feel confident to spend as freely as they used to. By Josh Boak and Christopher S. Rugaber. SENT: 1,050 words, photo.

With:

— EUROPE-ECONOMY — The inflation rate in the 18-nation eurozone drops again in July, official data show, likely adding pressure on the European Central Bank to beef up its efforts to spur the economy. SENT: 700 words.

CHINA-FAST FOOD SCANDAL

BEIJING — Already China's biggest restaurant operator with 4,600 outlets, KFC is pursuing Chinese consumers so avidly it opens two more every day. That dramatic growth comes with a big catch: KFC's quality control is struggling to keep up. The Louisville, Kentucky-based chain is reeling after a Chinese supplier was accused of selling expired beef and chicken to it, McDonald's and possibly other restaurant chains. Global fast food chains are rushing to expand in China but even experienced operators face costly pitfalls in a fast-changing food supply industry plagued by repeated safety scandals. By Joe McDonald. SENT: 1,200 words, photos.

With:

— CHINA-KFC PIZZA HUT — The owner of the KFC and Pizza Hut restaurant chains says a food safety scandal in China has hurt sales and might be severe enough to cut into the company's global profit. SENT: 230 words.

TARGET-CEO

MINNEAPOLIS — Target is bringing in an outsider as its CEO for the first time as the retailer fights to redefine itself to American shoppers. The Minneapolis-based company says it named PepsiCo executive Brian Cornell to the top spot, replacing John Mulligan, who had been acting as interim chief executive since May. Mulligan had stepped into the temporary post after former CEO Gregg Steinhafel resigned following a large data breach in the runup to the holiday shopping season. SENT: 570 words, photo.

TRUMP'S NEIGHBOR

She once called Donald Trump "a maggot, a cockroach and a crumb." This week, he remembered her as "an impossible person." The woman who became a folk hero for resisting decades-long efforts by big-name developers like Trump to displace her Atlantic City boardinghouse is now 91 and, at last, ready to sell. But it remains to be seen if anybody still wants to buy. By Samantha Henry. SENT: 680 words, photo.

MARKETS & ECONOMY:

UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS

WASHINGTON — More people seek U.S. unemployment benefits last week, but jobless claims remain at pre-recession levels. The Labor Department says weekly applications for unemployment aid rose 23,000 to a seasonally adjusted 302,000. The prior week's was revised down to 279,000 claims, the lowest since May 2000. By Josh Boak. SENT: 290 words, photo, glance.

MORTGAGE RATES

WASHINGTON — Average U.S. mortgage rates declined slightly this week, hovering near their lows for the year. Mortgage company Freddie Mac says the nationwide average for a 30-year loan slipped to 4.12 percent from 4.13 percent last week. By Marcy Gordon. SENT: 130 words. UPCOMING: 300 words by noon.

FINANCIAL MARKETS

NEW YORK — U.S. stocks fall in early trading as investors react to some disappointing earnings reports and assessed the implications of the approaching end to economic stimulus from the Federal Reserve. By Steve Rothwell and Kay Johnson. SENT: 500 words. UPCOMING: 700 words by 5 p.m.

— PORTUGAL-TROUBLED BANK — The woes of troubled Portuguese bank Banco Espirito Santo deepen as its share price plunged on the Lisbon stock exchange, a day after it reported a record half-year loss of 3.58 billion euros ($4.8 billion). SENT: 360 words.

— SWITZERLAND-CENTRAL BANK — Switzerland's central bank posts a profit of 16.1 billion Swiss francs ($17.7 billion) for the first half of the year, a big turnaround from its loss of 9 billion francs for 2013. SENT: 260 words.

INDUSTRY:

— JAPAN-PANASONIC-TESLA — American electric car maker Tesla Motors Inc. is teaming up with Japanese electronics company Panasonic Corp. to build a battery manufacturing plant in the U.S. expected to create 6,500 jobs. By Yuri Kageyama. SENT: 320 words.

— JAPAN-NUCLEAR-TEPCO — A Japanese judicial panel has recommended that three former executives of the utility that operates the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant face criminal charges over their role in the disaster. By Mari Yamaguchi. SENT: 500 words, photos.

— GERMANY-ADIDAS — Sports equipment maker Adidas lowers its full-year profit target, citing among other things increasing risk in the Russian market amid mounting political tensions over Ukraine. SENT: 370 words.

— JOURNAL-SCRIPPS DEAL — Journal Communications Inc. of Milwaukee and E.W. Scripps Co. of Cincinnati have an agreement to merge broadcasting operations while spinning off newspaper holdings into a separate public entity, the companies announced late Wednesday. SENT: 340 words.

— USA PRO CHALLENGE-LEXUS — Lexus signs a two-year contract to sponsor the USA Pro Cycling Challenge as part of a move by the luxury automaker to get more involved with the sport on a global basis. SENT: 130 words.

— GERMANY-BEER BOOST — German beer sales rise by 4.4 percent in the year's first half, gaining froth from the beginning of the country's run to the soccer World Cup title. SENT: 110 words.

— OBAMA-LABOR — In an election-year rebuttal to Republicans, President Barack Obama will sign an executive order requiring federal contractors to give their workers more rights in labor disputes. The move comes one day after House GOP lawmakers voted to sue Obama for allegedly misusing presidential powers. SENT: 630 words, photo. UPCOMING: Will be updated after order signing at 1:20 p.m.

EARNINGS:

SKOREA-EARNS-SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS

SEOUL, South Korea — Samsung Electronics Co. reports a bigger-than-expected fall in second quarter profit and says it's uncertain if earnings from its handset business would improve in the current quarter. Samsung warned earlier this month that the second quarter would be its worst in two years as rapid growth in smartphone sales had faded. By Youkyung Lee. SENT: 740 words, photos, glance.

JAPAN-EARNS-SONY

TOKYO — Sony Corp. reports a surprise eightfold jump in quarterly profit as sales got a perk from a cheap yen and its bottom line was helped by gains from selling buildings and its stake in a video-game maker. By Yuri Kageyama. SENT: 600 words, photos.

— EARNS-MASTERCARD — MasterCard's second-quarter net income climbs 9.8 percent as it benefited from volume growth and handled more transactions in the period. SENT: 200 words.

— EARNS-EXXON — Exxon Mobil Corp. net income rises 28 percent in the second quarter on a sale of Asian assets and higher oil prices, but oil and gas production slips 6 percent, disappointing analysts. SENT: 300 words.

— FRANCE-EARNS-SANOFI — French drug maker Sanofi says its earnings soared in the second quarter thanks to lower accounting charges than a year earlier, and the company lifted its full-year profit forecast. SENT: 140 words.

— EARNS-VOLKSWAGEN — Germany's Volkswagen, Europe's biggest automaker, says its net income rose 14.1 percent in the second quarter although revenues slipped even as unit sales pushed higher. SENT: 130 words.

— BRITAIN-EARNS-LLOYDS — The part-nationalized Lloyds Banking Group says its six-month net profit more than halved to 699 million pounds ($1.45 billion) after it put aside another 600 million pounds to cover the cost of improperly sold payment protection insurance. SENT: 140 words.

— GERMANY-EARNS-SIEMENS — Siemens says its net profit rose 27 percent in the April-June period after earnings a year earlier were weighed down by restructuring costs, though the strong euro hurt its revenue and new orders figures. SENT: 140 words.

— BELGIUM-EARNS-AB INBEV — Budweiser brewer AB InBev SA, the world's largest beer maker, says sales and underlying earnings grew in the second quarter, with 7.2 percent growth in Brazil, thanks in part to the World Cup, and it sees an improving economic outlook in the U.S. SENT: 140 words.

— NETHERLANDS-EARNS-SHELL — Royal Dutch Shell PLC, Europe's largest oil company, says second quarter earnings rose on higher production and higher selling prices for oil, and fewer one-time charges. SENT: 130 words.

— FRANCE-EARNS-ALCATEL-LUCENT — Telecommunications equipment company Alcatel-Lucent SA says its net loss narrowed in the second quarter thanks to lower accounting charges, while revenue stagnated and restructuring charges mounted. SENT: 150 words.

TECHNOLOGY & MEDIA:

FACEBOOK-INTERNET ACCESS

NEW YORK — Facebook's Internet.org project is taking another step toward its goal of bringing the Internet to people who are not yet online with an app launching Thursday in Zambia. The Internet.org app will give subscribers of Zambia's Airtel phone company access to a set of basic Internet services for free. By Barbara Ortutay. SENT: 370 words.

— NOKIA-PANASONIC — Finnish wireless equipment maker Nokia says it has a preliminary agreement to acquire part of the wireless network business of Japan's Panasonic Corp. SENT: 110 words.

INTERNATIONAL:

ARGENTINA-DEBT

NEW YORK — The collapse of talks with U.S. creditors sends Argentina into its second debt default in 13 years and raises questions about what comes next for financial markets and the South American nation's staggering economy. A midnight Wednesday deadline to reach a deal with holdout bondholders came and went with Argentine Economy Minister Axel Kicillof holding firm to his government's position that it could not accept a deal with U.S. hedge fund creditors it dismisses as "vultures." By Claudia Torrens. SENT: 930 words, photos.

— GERMANY-ECONOMY —Russia's standoff with the West is hurting European companies, from heavy industry to sports goods makers, even before the latest sanctions have a chance to take effect. A group representing Germany's machinery industry cut its output forecast sharply, pointing to the uncertainty caused by political tension with Russia over its alleged role in destabilizing Ukraine. SENT: 700 words.

— PHILIPPINES-ECONOMY — The Philippine central bank has raised its key interest rate by a quarter percentage point to counter inflation. SENT: 130 words.

— RUSSIA-YUKOS — The European Court of Human Rights orders Russia to pay out another 1.9 billion euros ($2.5 billion) to a group of shareholders of Yukos, the oil company the government dismantled over a decade ago. SENT: 300 words.