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WASHINGTON — The U.S. economy has rebounded with vigor from a grim start to 2014 and should show renewed strength into next year. That's the general view of analysts after the government estimated that the economy grew at a robust 4 percent annual rate last quarter. Consumers, businesses and governments combined to fuel the second-quarter expansion reported by the government, which also said growth was stronger last year than it had previously estimated. Whether the healthier growth will lead the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates sooner than expected is unclear. By Martin Crutsinger. Incorporates ECONOMY-GDP-REVISIONS. SENT: 1,070 words, photos.


— FEDERAL RESERVE — The Federal Reserve is further slowing the pace of its bond purchases because it thinks an improving U.S. economy needs less help. But it's offering no clearer hint of when it will start raising its benchmark short-term interest rate. By Martin Crutsinger. SENT: 850 words, photo.


McLEAN, Va. — Hilton CEO Chris Nassetta sits down with AP in his first in-depth interview since his company went public in December. The IPO, which raised $2.35 billion, was larger than Twitter's and gave Hilton a market capitalization 1.5 times that of rival Marriott. Nassetta was brought in by turnaround firm Blackstone in 1997 and has reshaped Hilton. He's been in the hotel business his entire career, starting in the engineering department of Washington's Capitol Holiday Inn. In other words, he was plunging toilets. Today, he oversees the world's largest hotel group, with 665,667 rooms across 90 countries and territories. By Scott Mayerowitz. SENT: 1,060 words.


NEW YORK — The long-awaited hiring boom at small businesses may finally be here. Around the country, owners are bringing in new workers to keep up with rising demand for their products and services. The surge in hiring began during the spring; a monthly survey by payroll provider ADP showed that after a year of erratic hiring, its small business customers gradually increased their staffs in April and May, and then had a dramatic gain in June. Whether companies serve consumers or other businesses, they're reporting big revenue gains so far this year. By Joyce M. Rosenberg. SENT: 850 words, photos, glance.


LISBON, Portugal — Portugal's Espirito Santo family business survived wars, dictatorship, revolution and family feuds for almost 150 years. Now, one of Europe's last banking dynasties is being stripped of its wealth and influence amid accounting irregularities, huge unreported debts, and a police investigation. By Barry Hatton. SENT: 1,000 words, photos.



NEW YORK — A cheerful report on the U.S. economy, rising profits and no surprises from the Federal Reserve leave the stock market nearly where it started. By Matthew Craft. SENT: 700 words, photo.


WASHINGTON — A private survey shows that businesses hired at a healthy pace in July, though the job gains slowed from the previous month. Private employers added 218,000 jobs, down from 281,000 in June, payroll provider ADP says. By Christopher S. Rugaber. SENT: 300 words, photo.



BAGHDAD — European airlines and a Dubai-based carrier are rerouting flights over Iraqi airspace as a security precaution amid fears that militants with the Islamic State group have weapons capable of shooting down planes, despite Iraq saying its skies are safe. A number of European carriers, including Virgin Atlantic, KLM and Air France, say they've devised alternate flight plans for their planes. By Vivian Salama and Sameer N. Yacoub. SENT: 600 words, photo.


WASHINGTON — The government is underestimating the threat of a chemical attack on America's densely populated cities and has failed to inspect virtually all of the chemical facilities that it considers particularly vulnerable to terrorists, congressional investigators say. The yearlong investigation by Republican staff on the Senate Homeland Security Committee paints a portrait of inspection delays, government errors in risk assessment and industry loopholes in a $595 million terror prevention program passed by Congress in 2006. By Hope Yen. SENT: 770 words, photo.


NEW YORK — A federal judge imposes a $1.3 billion civil penalty against Bank of America for its role in selling risky mortgages to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that were advertised as safe investments. By Ken Sweet. SENT: 380 words.

— CHURCHILL DOWNS-SARATOGA — Churchill Downs Inc. is finalizing a deal with the operators of the Saratoga Casino and Raceway to manage the upstate New York gambling facility and another in Colorado. SENT: 230 words.

— CONGRESS-OVERSEAS TAX BREAKS — Republican senators block an election-year bill to limit tax breaks for U.S. companies that move operations overseas. The bill would have prohibited companies from deducting expenses related to moving their operations to a foreign country. It also would have offered tax credits to companies that move operations to the U.S. from a foreign country. SENT: 540 words, photos.

— KAWASAKI-RECALL — About 11,000 Kawasaki off-road vehicles are being recalled because debris can cut through the foot rest area and hurt riders' legs. SENT: 130 words.

— CONCERT BOOKERS-FRAUD — A New York man who stole millions of dollars from clients by falsely promising to book performances by world-famous recording artists like Rihanna, Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber is sentenced to five to 10 years in prison. SENT: 140 words.

— CONTRACTING FRAUD-DC — Federal investigators looking for fraud in the nation's capital are scrutinizing a program meant to give local contractors a share of major construction projects, people familiar with the probe have told The Associated Press. Three people in contact with investigators say the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's office are examining partnerships between local companies and outside firms that won multimillion-dollar contracts from the District of Columbia government. SENT: 1,070 words.

— SALMONELLA OUTBREAK-TRIAL — The trial of three people charged in a deadly salmonella outbreak linked to a Georgia peanut plant could keep jurors tied up at least two months. SENT: 140 words.

— PRISON PRIVATIZATION-FOOD — Concerns about the job an Aramark Correctional Services is doing feeding inmates in Ohio prisons are real, the head of a state prisons oversight committee says. SENT: 370 words.

— HEALTH OVERHAUL — Management failures by the Obama administration set the stage for the computer woes that paralyzed the president's new health care program last fall, nonpartisan investigators say. SENT: 830 words.

— BOEING —Boeing says final assembly of its 787-10 plane, a planned larger version of its "Dreamliner" aircraft, will take place in South Carolina. SENT: 140 words.

— CARGILL-BEEF PLANT — Cargill plans to close a Milwaukee beef-processing plant which employs about 600 people on Friday due to a shortage of cattle. SENT: 190 words.


— EARNS-WELLPOINT — WellPoint's second-quarter profit fell 8.6 percent as expenses tied to changes in the nation's health care laws climbed. It still beat Wall Street expectations and the nation's second-biggest health insurer raised its profit expectations for the year yet again. SENT: 620 words, photo.

— EARNS-GOODYEAR — The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. reports profit that rose by 18 percent in its second quarter. SENT: 160 words.

— EARNS-WHOLE FOODS — Whole Foods reports quarterly sales that fell shy of Wall Street expectations and lowers its outlook for the year, raising worries about the intensifying competition the organic and natural products grocer is facing. SENT: 330 words, photo.

— JAPAN-EARNS-NINTENDO — Nintendo Co. sinks to a worse-than-expected loss for the fiscal first quarter on lagging Wii U and 3DS video-game machine sales. SENT: 420 words, photo.

— BRITAIN-EARNS-BARCLAYS — The CEO of Barclays says having provisions to claw back bankers' bonuses, as outlined by regulators, is a good idea in principle. The company also reported that adjusted net income fell 14 percent to 1.76 billion pounds ($2.9 billion) in the second quarter. SENT: 350 words.

— ITALY-EARNS-FIAT — Italian carmaker Fiat SpA, which controls Chrysler, says its second-quarter profits dropped by more than a half due to lower performance in North and Latin America. SENT: 370 words.

— FRANCE-AIRBUS EARNS — European aerospace company Airbus says it expects its revenue to remain stable this year despite a big cancellation recently for some of its large A350 planes. SENT: 140 words.

— IRELAND-EARNS-ALLIED IRISH BANKS — Ireland's second-largest bank, Allied Irish Banks, returns to profit for the first time since a 2008 property crash pushed the nation to the brink of bankruptcy. SENT: 140 words.



DETROIT — The four-door Mini Cooper Countryman is the only one of 12 cars to earn a top rating of "good" in new frontal crash tests. The Nissan Leaf, Nissan Juke, Fiat 500L and Mazda5 wagon all fared worst in the tests performed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, an Arlington, Va.-based safety group that's funded by insurers. By Dee-Ann Durbin. SENT: 410 words, photos.

— GENERAL MOTORS-LAWSUIT — A Texas lawyer files a lawsuit against General Motors on behalf of 658 people who were injured or killed in crashes allegedly caused by faulty ignition switches. SENT: 470 words, photo.

— JAPAN-TOYOTA — Toyota remains No. 1 in global vehicles sales after the first six months of this year, followed by Volkswagen which bumped General Motors out of second place as the U.S. automaker grapples with a recall scandal. SENT: 380 words, photos. First sent late Tuesday.

— HYUNDAI-SONATA RECALL — Hyundai is recalling its popular Sonata midsize sedan to fix problems with the gear shift levers. The recall covers 883,000 cars from the 2011 through 2014 model years. SENT: 230 words, photo.

— BEHIND-THE-WHEEL-JEEP GRAND CHEROKEE — The flagship of the Jeep line — the five-passenger Grand Cherokee sport utility vehicle — is both a grand and high-mileage traveler for 2014. With the addition of an impressive diesel V-6 from Jeep's parent, Fiat of Italy, the 2014 Grand Cherokee 4X2 now boasts a federal government travel range of 615 miles on a single tank of fuel. SENT: 870 words, photo, box.

— CHRYSLER-FIAT RECALL — Chrysler is recalling just under 30,000 Fiat 500L small cars in the U.S. and Canada to fix a problem with air bags that protect knees in a crash. SENT: 130 words.



NEW YORK — 3-D printing is all the rage. You hit a button on your computer, which sends a file to a printer, which produces a small 3-D object out of plastic. It's a cool technology, but it's not exactly a hands-on way to make things. Enter the 3Doodler: the pen that turns you into the 3-D printer. The $99 3Doodler is a fat pen not unlike a hot glue gun. It needs to be plugged into a wall outlet. A stick of plastic goes in one end and comes out, melted, at the tip. As you move your hand, it leaves a thin trail of cooling, solidifying plastic. Move it around with a plan, laying down string upon string, and things start taking shape. By Peter Svensson. SENT: 790 words, photos.


MUMBAI, India — The world's largest online retailer is facing off in India against a new name in e-commerce that was founded by former Amazon employees. Inc. says it will invest $2 billion to expand its Indian business, a day after local rival Flipkart raised $1 billion to fund its own expansion. By Kay Johnson. SENT: 420 words.

— BRITAIN-DRIVERLESS CARS — British officials says driverless cars will be tested on roads in as many as three cities in a trial program to begin in January. SENT: 140 words, photos.

— MICROSOFT-WINDOWS PHONE-UPDATE — Microsoft is spreading its Cortana digital assistant abroad, starting with China and the U.K. The company says that Chinese and British users of Windows Phones will get the voice-recognizing app in an update to Windows Phone 8.1 that will begin rolling out to developers next week and to users in the coming months. SENT: 370 words, photo.

— BAR EXAMS-SUBMISSION DELAYS — Law school graduates taking the bar exam in multiple states experienced delays when they tried to submit their answers on the test's first day. The Florida-based testing software provider blamed a processing issue and said it had been fixed. SENT: 700 words.

— PORTLAND-SHORT TERM RENTALS — The Portland, Oregon, City Council has voted to legalize short-term rentals in single-family homes, giving added legitimacy to rental websites such as Airbnb. SENT: 110 words.



MOSCOW — Russia blasts the West's new economic sanctions, accusing the U.S. of being "prosecutorial" in its drive to impose penalties on the country's key energy and finance sectors. The U.S. and European Union on Tuesday announced a raft of new sanctions that would limit the trade of arms and technology that can be used in the oil industry and for military purposes. The EU also put its capital markets off limits for Russian state-owned banks. By Laura Mills and Juergen Baetz. SENT: 1,190 words, photos.


BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — In 2001, it was ground zero for Argentina's financial earthquake. A neo-colonial architectural gem built long ago by the Bank of Boston, it became the focal point for angry mobs of protesters who stared down riot police to demand the return of their savings, which the government confiscated in a last-ditch, and ultimately failed, attempt to stay current on its debt. By Almudena Calatrava and Joshua Goodman. SENT: 930 words.


— ARGENTINA-DEBT — Argentina's economy minister has resumed efforts to solve the South American nation's financial crisis without a default. SENT: 510 words.

— THAILAND-INFRASTRUCTURE — Thailand's military government approved a massive budget to upgrade the country's railways including high-speed rail that would eventually link with China as part of an eight-year plan to improve infrastructure. SENT: 350 words, photos.

— INDIA-US-COMMERCE — The U.S. secretary of commerce has pledged to help expand investment in India's infrastructure and to promote trade. SENT: 130 words.

— SPAIN-ECONOMY — Spain's economy grew by a better-than-expected 0.6 percent in the second quarter compared with the previous three months, the fastest rate since 2007 and more evidence of the country's recovery from recession. SENT: 140 words.

— GERMANY-ECONOMY — The head of Germany's central bank says higher wages would be justified in the country as the economy flourishes, and is putting the potential for raises at 3 percent. SENT: 220 words.

— ALBANIA-CENTRAL BANK-THEFT — Albania's central bank says 713 million leke (5 million euros; $6.75 million) has been stolen from its reserve storage building. Authorities arrested two bank employees last week. SENT: 130 words.

— CYPRUS-BAILOUT — The International Monetary Fund says Cyprus will need to make additional spending cuts to meet a key target of its financial rescue program. SENT: 360 words.

— YEMEN — Fuel prices in Yemen nearly double as the government ends a fuel subsidy program costing billions of dollars, sparking scattered demonstrations that saw one person killed as authorities quickly dispersed protesters. SENT: 530 words.



You can now fit a wind or solar farm into your portfolio, even if your portfolio isn't exactly vast. Energy companies are wrapping renewable energy projects and other power-related assets that generate steady cash into new businesses, dubbed YieldCos, that they hope will attract investors hunting for dividends. By Jonathan Fahey. UPCOMING: 750 words.

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The Standard & Poor's 500 index is up 17 percent over the last year, but there are nearly a dozen stocks are right back where they were a year ago. There are several well-known names in the group of stocks that have moved less than 1 percent in either direction, including Cisco Systems and Coca-Cola. UPCOMING: Graphic expected by 6 p.m.


Goodyear revenue slips

Shares of Goodyear Tire & Rubber sank TK percent Wednesday, after the company reported a decline in second-quarter revenue. UPCOMING: Graphic expected by 6 p.m.