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NEW YORK — It's a shopper's killer app. Point your phone's camera at the cool pair of sunglasses your friend is wearing, take a picture, and then receive a slew of information about the shades along with a link that lets you order them. It's a great idea —when it works. Companies including Amazon, Google and Target are working to perfect "visual search," but so far it remains a science fiction dream. Mobile software that scans codes, such as QSR codes and UPC symbols, are fairly common, but mobile apps that consistently recognize images and objects are proving more difficult. Here's a look at the quest for e-commerce's Holy Grail. By Mae Anderson. SENT: 900 words, photo.
WASHINGTON — After a bleak start to the year, the U.S. economy grew at a brisk annual rate of 4.2 percent in the April-June quarter, the government says, slightly faster than it had first estimated. The upward revision supported expectations that the second half of 2014 will prove far stronger than the first half. The Commerce Department's second estimate of growth for last quarter followed its initial estimate of 4 percent. The upward revision reflected stronger business investment than first thought. By Martin Crutsinger. SENT: 660 words, photo.
FRANCE-OPENING FOR BUSINESS
PARIS — Facing pitiful poll numbers, Francois Hollande has cast his lot: The French president who once decried global finance and vowed a 75-percent tax on millionaires has quashed dissent from his Socialist government's left flank and appointed a well-heeled former investment banker as his new point man on the economy. Several left-leaning critics were sent packing in a Cabinet shakeup that sent a message to international investors, European allies and millions of citizens: France is willing to embrace more free market policies and often unpopular reforms to tackle double-digit unemployment and zero economic growth. By Jamey Keaten and Sylvie Corbet. SENT: 780 words, photos.
SEOUL, South Korea — Are dogs for petting or eating? The two views have coexisted uneasily in South Korea's recent history, feeding a controversy that is most bitter in the summer. On the hottest days of the year, many South Koreans queue for a bowl of dog stew, believing it gives them strength. Animal rights activists protest nearby, urging them not to devour man's best friend. Waning sales led to the closure this month of a famous dog soup restaurant in Seoul that was frequented by South Korean presidents. Hundreds of such establishments remain but complaints from butchers of dwindling demand show one view of dogs is gaining more traction among young South Koreans. By Youkyung Lee. SENT: 860 words, photos.
FILM-SUMMER BOX OFFICE
NEW YORK — The summer box office will sputter to a close this weekend, finishing about 15 percent down from last year's summer. Here are five takeaways from Hollywood's lackluster season. By Jake Coyle. UPCOMING: 800 words by 3 p.m., photos.
MARKETS & ECONOMY:
AMERICANS' ECONOMIC OUTLOOK-SURVEY
WASHINGTON — Americans are more anxious about the economy now than they were right after the Great Recession ended despite stock market gains, falling unemployment and growth moving closer to full health. Seventy-one percent of Americans say they think the recession exerted a permanent drag on the economy, according to a survey by Rutgers University. By Josh Boak. SENT: 600 words.
WASHINGTON — The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits slips 1,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 298,000, a low level that signals employers are cutting few jobs and hiring is likely to remain strong. By Christopher S. Rugaber. SENT: 380 words, photo, glance.
PENDING HOME SALES
WASHINGTON — More Americans sign contracts to buy homes in July, a sign that buying has improved as mortgage rates have slipped, the number of listings has risen and the rate of price increases has slowed. By Josh Boak. SENT: 430 words, photo.
WASHINGTON — U.S. banks' earnings rise 5.2 percent in the April-June quarter from a year earlier, as banks reduced their expenses and lending marked its fastest pace since 2007. The data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. showed a robust picture as the banking industry continues to recover from the financial crisis that struck six years ago. The improving economy has brought greater demand for loans and stepped-up lending. By Marcy Gordon. SENT: 600 words.
WASHINGTON — The average 30-year U.S. mortgage rate remains at a 52-week low of 4.10 this week. Mortgage company Freddie Mac also says the average for a 15-year mortgage, a popular choice for people who are refinancing, rose to 3.25 percent from 3.23 percent. SENT: 280 words.
NEW YORK — The escalating conflict in Ukraine combined with disappointing earnings and profit outlooks from several retailers drag stocks lower in afternoon trading, eclipsing some good news on the U.S. economy. By Alex Veiga. SENT: 600 words, photo. UPCOMING: 700 words by 5 p.m.
— AUSTRALIA-EARNS-QANTAS — Qantas Airways posted a record 2.8 billion Australian dollar ($2.6 billion) loss, reflecting a profit-draining battle with its smaller rival Virgin Australia and aircraft write downs. But the airline's shares surged 7 percent on confirmation it would separate its domestic and troubled international businesses. SENT: 290 words.
— CHINA-EARNS-PETROCHINA — State-owned PetroChina, East Asia's biggest oil producer, says its profit in the first half rose 4 percent as sales of gasoline and natural gas increased. SENT: 110 words.
— DUBAI-EARNS-DP WORLD — Dubai-based port operator DP World says its profit rose 26 percent in the first half of the year as it was able to process more cargo thanks to new capacity and a pick-up in global trade. SENT: 350 words.
NEW YORK — The Abercrombie & Fitch logo has lost the power it once wielded. Shares of Abercrombie & Fitch Co. tumble after reporting weak sales as more teens shop elsewhere. The company is trying to stock trendier clothing — and it turns out that means stripping off the once-prized Abercrombie logo. By Anne D'Innocenzio. SENT: 490 words. UPCOMING: photo.
TORONTO — Few things unite Canadians the way Tim Hortons does. For half a century, they've warmed themselves on chilly mornings with the chain's coffee and Timbits — or doughnut holes to Americans. So news this week that Burger King will buy Tim Hortons served as a bittersweet reminder of how beloved the homegrown chain is in Canada. In a bid to quell any concerns that its distinctly Canadian brand could be watered down, the company went out of its way to assure Canadians that the red and brown coffee and doughnut shop won't change. By Rob Gillies. SENT: 740 words, photos.
TEWKSBURY, Mass. — Hours after reaching an agreement to buy the company, the restored chief of the New England's Market Basket supermarket chain celebrated with workers in a rally at headquarters Thursday, saying he loved them and appreciated their efforts in helping him regain control. SENT: 700 words, photos, video.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The change made by the Kansas City Chiefs a few years ago was subtle — one word, really — yet it ushered a pronounced change in the way the franchise viewed its most important fans. Season-ticket holders became known as "season-ticket members." And by offering those members exclusive gifts and experiences, the Chiefs have rebuilt their season-ticket rolls at a time when many franchises are having a hard time filling stadiums. By Dave Skretta. SENT: 940 words.
— EBOLA-AIRLINES — The World Health Organization's assistant director-general for emergency operations is urging airlines to lift most of their restrictions about flying to Ebola-hit nations because a predictable "air link" is needed to help deal with the crisis. SENT: 280 words.
— GERMANY-PILOTS STRIKE — German airline pilots say they'll go on strike after negotiations between the country's biggest airline Lufthansa and the union representing pilots collapsed over a long-running dispute regarding wages and early retirement benefits. SENT: 250 words, photo.
— EBOLA VACCINE — Federal researchers next week will start testing humans with an experimental vaccine to prevent the deadly Ebola virus. SENT: 620 words.
— BP REFINERY-EXPLOSION — An explosion at BP oil refinery in northwestern Indiana along Lake Michigan rattles nearby homes and sparks a fire that was later extinguished, but it didn't cause any major injuries or halt production at the facility. SENT: 350 words.
— FARM BILL-DAIRY — Dairy farmers squeezed in recent years by low milk prices and high feed costs can begin signing up next week for a new program replacing old subsidies that didn't factor in the price of corn. SENT: 630 words.
TECHNOLOGY & MEDIA:
— APPLE EVENT — Apple will show off its newest products Sept. 9. The iPhone and iPad maker set the date in invitations mailed Thursday to reporters and others who typically come to see the unveiling of Apple's latest twists on technology. SENT: 130 words.
— MYANMAR-SOLAR ENERGY — A U.S investment fund has signed a $480 million deal to build two solar energy plants in central Myanmar, one of the largest investments by an American firm since the easing of U.S. sanctions. SENT: 220 words.
— SPAIN-TELEFONICA-BRAZIL — French media conglomerate Vivendi says it will begin exclusive talks with Spanish telecoms company Telefonica for the sale of its Brazilian operator Global Village Telecom, or GVT, after the Spanish company raised its offer to 7.45 billion euros ($9.82 billion) from 6.7 billion euros. SENT: 190 words.
INDIA-BANKING ON THE POOR
NEW DELHI — India's state-owned banks are conducting a massive campaign to open millions of accounts for poor Indians who are off the financial grid and vulnerable to black market money lenders. By Katy Daigle. SENT: 390 words, photos.
— GERMANY-ECONOMY — Germany's Federal Labor Office says the country's jobless rate ticked up slightly to 6.7 percent in August as 30,000 more people joined the ranks of the unemployed. SENT: 130 words
— BRITAIN-SCOTLAND — Some 200 business leaders have offered support for the idea of Scottish independence from Britain, hitting back after a similar letter from other companies argued there are too many uncertainties surrounding the Sept. 18 vote. SENT: 140 words
— HONG-KONG-MEDIA BOSS RAIDED — Hong Kong anti-corruption police search the homes of a media magnate who is an outspoken critic of Beijing and a pro-democracy legislator after receiving a complaint alleging that lawmakers had taken bribes. By Kelvin Chan. SENT: 400 words.
— PHILIPPINES-ECONOMY — The Philippine economy expands 6.4 percent in the second quarter and tied with Malaysia as the second fastest growing in Asia during the period, bouncing back from typhoon and earthquake disasters. SENT: 360 words.
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Fund screen: Playing China
Mutual fund managers say they're still finding opportunities in Chinese stocks, even though the summer rebound means they're no longer as cheap as they once were. Even so, investors seeking more stability may want to consider these diversified emerging-markets stock funds. UPCOMING: Graphic expected by 6 p.m.
Coty shares slump
Shares of the beauty products company Coty fall sharply after it reported a loss of $20.1 million in its fiscal fourth quarter. UPCOMING: Graphic expected by 6 p.m.
MONEY & MARKETS EXTRA
For the week ending Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014
As auto sales recover to pre-recession levels, a prime driver has been easy credit. But there are trends that are causing some analysts to ring warning bells. As auto lenders reach down the credit score scale to make loans, 60-day delinquencies and repossessions are rising. Delinquencies were up 7 percent last quarter compared with a year ago, and repos rose 70 percent, according to Experian Automotive. UPCOMING: Graphic expected by 6 p.m.