Fed seems on track to slow bond buys by year's end
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve appears on track to slow its bond purchases by the end of this year if the economy continues to improve. But it remains divided over the exact timing of the move.
That's the message from the minutes of the Fed's July 30-31 meeting released Wednesday.
A few policymakers said they wanted to assess more economic data before deciding when to scale back the central bank's $85 billion a month in Treasury and mortgage bond purchases. These policymakers "emphasized the importance of being patient," the minutes said.
Others said it "might soon be time" to slow the purchases, which have helped keep long-term borrowing rates near record lows.
Facebook aims to get the world online
NEW YORK (AP) — Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wants to get all of the world's 7 billion people online through a partnership with some of the largest mobile technology companies. He says the Web is an essential part of life, and everyone deserves to be connected, whether they live in Norway, Nicaragua or Namibia.
Of course, connecting more people to the Internet is the kind of philanthropy that would create more potential Facebook users, which would also help boost the company's bottom line.
To get there, Facebook Inc. on Wednesday announced a partnership called Internet.org. It includes the world's biggest social network, plus Korean electronics giant Samsung, Finnish handset maker Nokia and wireless chip maker Qualcomm Inc. More companies are expected to join.
Facebook said the group's goal is to "make Internet access available to the two-thirds of the world who are not yet connected" — about 5 billion people.
US home sales hit 5.4 million in July, highest since '09
WASHINGTON (AP) — For the first time since 2009, previously occupied U.S. homes are selling at a pace associated with a healthy market.
Sales jumped 6.5 percent in July to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.4 million, the National Association of Realtors said Wednesday. Over the past 12 months, sales have surged 17.2 percent. The trend shows that housing remains a driving force for the economy even as mortgage rates have risen from record lows.
Buyers have been purchasing previously occupied homes at an annual pace above 5 million for three straight months. The last time that happened was in 2007. Sales are far above the 3.45 million pace of July 2010, the low point after the housing bubble burst. Analysts generally think a healthy sales pace is roughly between 5 and 5.5 million.
Lowe's rides housing recovery to higher 2Q profit
MOORESVILLE, N.C. (AP) — Lowe's second-quarter net income rose 26 percent as Americans feeling good about sprucing up their homes again snapped up indoor and outdoor home products and supplies.
The second-largest home-improvement chain's results beat Wall Street expectations. It also raised its full-year earnings and revenue forecasts Wednesday, and the stock rose $1.73, or 3.9 percent, to close at $45.81.
The strong performance comes a day after rival Home Depot Inc.'s results also topped analysts' estimates and it lifted its outlook. It shows that as home values improve Americans are stepping up home improvement projects.
Target's 2Q profit falls 13 percent on shopper caution
NEW YORK (AP) — Target Corp. on Wednesday became the latest in a string of companies that have lowered their business expectations as they contend with an uncertain economy.
The cheap chic retailer muted its annual profit forecast after reporting a 13 percent drop in second-quarter profit as its expansion into Canada — its first foray outside the U.S.— has proven more challenging than it expected.
But the company also is contending with mixed economic signals that have caused it and its rivals, from Wal-Mart Stores Inc. to Macy's, to temper their forecasts for the remainder of the year. While jobs are easier to get and the housing market is gaining momentum, these improvements have not been enough to get most Americans who are facing stagnant wage growth to spend more freely.
Kia recalls some Sorento SUVs; front axle can fail
DETROIT (AP) — Kia is recalling more than 9,700 SUVs in the U.S. and Canada because the front axle can fail and the vehicles can lose power.
The recall affects 2014 Sorento SUVs with 2.4-liter four-cylinder engines and front-wheel-drive. They were built from Jan. 7 through March 12 of this year.
Kia says the right axle drive shaft can crack and fail. If that happens, the SUVs can lose power or roll away when parked. The company says there haven't been any crashes or injuries reported.
Unionized SF strip club closing its curtains
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Nearly two decades after they made the nation gawk by forming its first unionized strip club, the dancers at San Francisco's Lusty Lady are hanging up their thongs.
The employee-owned, co-op club will close in two weeks because it can no longer afford its rent.
While the workers own the club, they don't own the North Beach building where rent was $5,500 a month in 2001 but now runs more than $16,000. That's far more than the dancers and their wads of ones can manage.
Eviction proceedings began against the club earlier this year when it fell behind on rent. The workers have agreed to vacate by Sept. 2, and the owner says he'll waive the back rent.
By The Associated Press=
The Dow Jones Industrial average fell 105.4 points, or 0.7 percent, to 14,897.55 points. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 9.55 points, or 0.6 percent, to close at 1,642.80. The Nasdaq composite fell 13.80 points, or 0.4 percent, to 3,599.79.
Benchmark oil for October delivery dropped $1.26 to close at $103.85 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Heating oil was flat at $3.08 per gallon. Natural gas rose 2 cents to $3.46 per 1,000 cubic feet.
Brent crude, which is used to set prices for imported oil used by many U.S. refineries, fell 34 cents to $109.81 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.