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BANK OF AMERICA SETTLEMENT
WASHINGTON — Bank of America's record $16.65 billion settlement for its role in selling shoddy mortgage securities — $7 billion of it geared for consumer relief — offers a glint of hope for desperate homeowners. Yet the process by which people qualify and receive aid could drag on for years. The settlement will help reduce people's mortgage balances, offer new loans to buyers with low incomes and address urban blight. But relatively few people will be helped relative to the devastation triggered by the securities that fueled the worst recession since the 1930s and threw millions of homes into foreclosure. By Josh Boak, Pete Yost, and Marcy Gordon. SENT: 850 words. UPCOMING: 1,000 words by 3:30 p.m.
To win the hearts of business travelers, United Airlines is going through their stomachs. The carrier will now serve a meal to first-class passengers on flights of at least 800 miles, down from 900 miles previously. That means chicken salad or a turkey sandwich on the way to a conference instead a prepackaged snack. American recently cut hot meals on flights of less than 1,000 miles, so United is seizing an opportunity to win back some high-paying customers lost during its troubled merger with Continental. By Scott Mayerowitz. SENT: 640 words, photos.
SKOREA-DARK SIDE OF THE NOODLE
SEOUL, South Korea — Kim Min-koo has an easy reply to new American research that hits South Korea where it hurts — in the noodles. Drunk and hungry just after dawn, he rips the lid off a bowl of his beloved fast food, wobbling on his feet but still defiant over a report that links instant noodles to health hazards. Instant noodles carry a broke college student aura in America, but they are an essential, even passionate, part of life for many in South Korea and across Asia. Hence the emotional heartburn caused by a Baylor Heart and Vascular Hospital study in the United States that linked instant noodles consumption by South Koreans to some risks for heart disease. By Foster Klug And Jung-Yoon Choi. SENT: 1,245 words, photos.
LOS BANOS, Calif. — California's record drought hasn't been sweet to honeybees, and it's creating a sticky situation for beekeepers and honey buyers. The state is traditionally one of the country's largest honey producers, with abundant crops and wildflowers that provide the nectar that bees turn into honey. But the lack of rain has ravaged native plants and forced farmers to scale back crop production, leaving fewer places for honeybees to forage. The historic drought, now in its third year, is reducing supplies of California honey, raising prices for consumers and making it harder for beekeepers to earn a living. By Terence Chea. SENT: 825 words, photos, video.
HONDA-TOUGHER COMPACT CAR
Many car buyers avoid subcompacts for fear the tiny cars will crumple in an accident. With that in mind, Honda is revamping the Fit to earn a passing grade on a test that measures what happens in an off-angle frontal crash. The car failed the test in January, along with a dozen other subcompacts. By Tom Krisher. SENT: 500 words, photos.
MARKETS & ECONOMY:
WASHINGTON — Fewer people applied for U.S. unemployment benefits last week, another sign the job market is improving. The Labor Department says weekly claims for jobless aid fell 14,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 298,000. By Economics Writer Paul Wiseman. SENT: 380 words, photo.
— UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS-GLANCE — Here are the states with the biggest increases in unemployment applications. SENT: 170 words.
WASHINGTON — A fourth straight monthly increase in sales of existing homes offers the latest evidence that the U.S. housing market is rebounding from a weak start to the year. Housing had been a drag on an otherwise strengthening economy, in part because a harsh winter delayed many sales. But Americans are stepping up purchases, thanks to low mortgage rates and moderating price gains, which have made homes more affordable. By Christopher S. Rugaber. SENT: 665 words. UPCOMING: 800 words by 2:30 p.m.
WASHINGTON — A gauge designed to predict the economy's future health posted the sharpest advance in four months in July, indicating the economy is gaining traction headed into the last half of the year. By Martin Crutsinger. Sent: 250 words.
WASHINGTON — Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates declined this week, with the 30-year loan rate hitting its low for the year. By Marcy Gordon. SENT: 140 words.
NEW YORK — UU.S. stocks were mostly higher in midday trading, helped by a report that showed the number of people seeking unemployment benefits remains at a multi-year low. Hewlett-Packard rose after delivering better results, while Sears plunged after reporting that its loss doubled from a year ago. By Ken Sweet. SENT: 580 words. UPCOMING: 700 words by 5 p.m., photo.
FAMILY DOLLAR-DOLLAR GENERAL
MATTHEWS, N.C. — Family Dollar is rebuffing Dollar General's takeover bid, citing antitrust issues. The discounter's board remains supportive of its existing deal with Dollar Tree. SENT: 330 words, photos.
MOSCOW — Russian news agencies report that the country's food safety agency will conduct checks on McDonald's restaurants in the Urals following food safety complaints, a day after four branches of the chain were shuttered in Moscow. SENT: 270 words, photos.
LAS VEGAS — While gay couples still can't get married in the marriage capital of the world, Las Vegas wants to let them know they — and their money — are more than welcome to the buffet of other activities Sin City has to offer. The city's tourism authority recently launched its first mainstream TV campaign aimed at the LGBT community: a commercial featuring a hunk and a heavy dose of innuendo. The first gay nightclub inside a Las Vegas Strip casino opened up this summer. By Michelle Rindels. SENT: 875 words, photos.
— AIRLINES-LABOR DAY TRAVEL — A trade group for the nation's big airlines predicts that air travel over the Labor Day weekend will rise 2 percent from the same holiday last year. SENT: 350 words.
—PAINKILLER-NEW RESTRICTIONS — The federal government is finalizing new restrictions on hundreds of medicines containing hydrocodone, the highly addictive painkiller that has grown into the most widely prescribed drug in the U.S. SENT: 490 words.
— LINCOLN-MCCONAUGHEY — Actor Matthew McConaughey is Lincoln's new pitchman. SENT: 84 words, photos.
HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. — Sears, which also runs Kmart stores, says that its second-quarter loss widened as it continues to deal with weak sales. SENT: 515 words, photo.
— EARNS-GAP — Gap Inc. reports quarterly financial results after the market closes.
TECHNOLOGY & MEDIA:
DIGITAL LIFE-TECH TIPS-CELLPHONE PLANS
NEW YORK —Sprint revamped its mobile service prices and plans this week, joining Verizon and AT&T in letting families share pools of data. To help guide you through the maze of options from Sprint, AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon here's a look at the best offerings for individuals, couples and families of four. By Anick Jesdanun. UPCOMING: 800 words by 4 p.m., photos.
— BRAZIL-AMAZON — Online retailer Amazon has started selling physical books in Brazil, two years after it began selling books in digital format in Latin America's biggest country. SENT: 130 words.
— GERMANY-SOUNDCLOUD — SoundCloud says it will start paying artists and record firms whose music is played on the popular streaming site. SENT: 130 words.
— ARGENTINA-DEFAULT — A U.S. judge frustrated by debt-ridden Argentina's refusal to comply with his orders is being urged to take stronger action against the South American nation. SENT: 140 words.
RIO DE JANEIRO — Nivea dos Santos got her first job as a live-in maid at age 12, dusting, vacuuming, ironing and polishing the silver of a wealthy Rio de Janeiro family from dawn until she'd fall, exhausted, into bed. More than two decades later, Brazil has passed legislation aimed at preventing such abuses. By Jenny Barchfield. SENT: 825 words, photos.
— EUROPE-ECONOMY — Survey of business activity shows eurozone economy growing slowly after stalling in the second quarter. SENT: 245 words.
— CHINA-MONGOLIA — China and Mongolia pledged Thursday to almost double their annual two-way trade to $10 billion by 2020 as President Xi Jinping became the first Chinese head of state in more than a decade to visit this sprawling resource-rich nation sandwiched between China and Russia. SENT: 510 words.
OF MUTUAL INTEREST-CHINA FUNDS
One of the world's hottest stock markets this summer was one of its most feared just a few months before. Investors are again piling into Chinese stocks despite earlier worries about the country's slowing economic growth. The summer's gains mean Chinese stocks are no longer as cheap as they were, but fund managers say they still see opportunities. Investors hoping to take advantage of those, though, should be mindful of the sharp swings that Chinese stocks have historically shown. UPCOMING: 800 words by 6 p.m.
SMART SPENDING-BACK TO SCHOOL
NEW YORK — It's late August, and parents are scrambling to outfit their kids with backpacks, gadgets and jeans as the clock winds down on the first day of school. But don't fret. This season, stores are pushing new services and apps to cater to time-starved, smartphone-savvy parents to help them save time and money during the annual shopping ritual. By Anne D'Innocenzio. SENT: 800 words.
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Waiting on Yellen
The most important stage in the financial world today isn't in New York, Frankfurt or Tokyo. It's in a lodge in Grand Teton National Park, where normally people are more interested in bear sightings than bear markets. The Wyoming stage's importance has grown in recent years because Yellen's predecessor used it to telegraph big moves. A look at how the market has performed when the Fed chair has spoken at Jackson Hole. UPCOMING: Graphic expected by 6 p.m.
Sears shares slide
Shares of Sears Holdings fell sharply Thursday after the retailer reported a second-quarter loss of $573 million. UPCOMING: Graphic expected by 6 p.m.
MONEY & MARKETS EXTRA
For the week ending Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014
Hedge fund favorites
What stocks are rising in popularity with hedge fund managers? At the top of the list is Hilton Worldwide Holdings. A look at the top 10 stocks with the biggest increase in hedge fund popularity. UPCOMING: Graphic expected by 6 p.m.