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WASHINGTON — The Federal Reserve issues a policy statement when its two-day meeting ends at 2 p.m. Financial markets are anticipating any clearer signal about the timing of an interest rate increase. The phrase that investors will be alert for is "considerable time." The presence or absence of those two words is viewed as key to the Fed's timetable for a change in its key short-term rate. The Fed has kept that rate at a record low since December 2008. By Martin Crutsinger. SENT: 620 word setup, photo. UPCOMING: 130 words after Fed statement is released at 2 p.m., 300 words by 2:45 p.m.


— FED FORECASTS — The Federal Reserve issues its updated quarterly economic forecasts. By Christopher S. Rugaber. UPCOMING: 130 words after forecasts are released at 2 p.m., 300 words by 2:45 p.m., sidebars as merited.


BEAVERTON, Ore. — Nike suspends its sponsorship deal with Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson following child abuse allegations. The Beaverton-based shoemaker issued a statement Wednesday morning that said Nike "in no way condones child abuse or domestic violence of any kind and has shared our concerns with the NFL." By Anne M. Peterson. SENT: 140 words. UPCOMING: Will be updated.


Spurred by the swine flu outbreak a few years ago and a push to offer more health care, the nation's biggest drugstores and retailers are grabbing larger chunks of the immunization market each year. Their growth gives customers more convenient options to protect themselves against the flu, pneumonia and more than a dozen other illnesses. But the push also muscles into an area of care that was once largely the domain of the family doctor. And that stirs some worry among physicians who say care delivered by retailers can make it harder to stay tuned in to the health of their patients. By Tom Murphy. SENT: 800 words, photo.


MOSCOW — The arrest of a Russian telecoms and oil tycoon has sent shock waves through the country's business community, with some fearing a return to the dark days of a decade ago, when the Kremlin asserted its power by imprisoning the country's then-richest man and expropriating his companies. The criminal case against 65-year-old Vladimir Yevtushenkov marks the first attack on a billionaire businessman since the arrest in 2003 of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the former head of Yukos, which was the country's largest oil company at the time. He spent the next decade in prison on tax evasion and misappropriation charges and saw his company taken over by the state and sold in pieces. By Nataliya Vasilyeva. SENT: 910 words, photos.


BEIJING — Control over Alibaba Group will stay in the hands of founder Jack Ma and other company veterans after the Chinese e-commerce giant goes public on the New York Stock Exchange in a record busting share sale. Alibaba says the partnership setup will preserve its innovative culture in a fast-developing industry and reduce distractions from financial market fluctuations. But research suggests such arrangements enrich insiders at the expense of other shareholders and in Alibaba's case, some see a reflection of China's authoritarian politics. By Joe McDonald. SENT: 950 words, photo.


NEW YORK — What do small business owners need to pay attention to this fall besides their businesses? Health care, Internet security and new technology top the list. Here are the five things small business owners need to be on top of over the next several months. By Joyce M. Rosenberg. SENT: 800 words, photo.



WASHINGTON — U.S. consumer prices edge down in August, the first monthly drop since the spring of 2013, as gasoline, airline tickets and clothing prices all fall. It's the latest evidence that inflation remains under control. By Martin Crutsinger. SENT: 480 words, photo.


WASHINGTON — U.S. homebuilders' confidence in the market for new, single-family homes surged this month to the highest level in nearly nine years. The brighter outlook reflects growing optimism that sales will increase over the next six months. That could potentially spur growth in home construction, a key driver of the economy. By Alex Veiga. SENT: 550 words, photo.


WASHINGTON — The U.S. current account trade deficit narrows slightly in the April-June quarter, reflecting gains in exports of oil and civilian aircraft and a bigger surplus in Americans' overseas investment earnings. By Martin Crutsinger. SENT: 300 words, photo.


NEW YORK — U.S. stocks edge mostly higher in afternoon trading as investors wait for a Federal Reserve statement on interest rates following a two-day meeting. By Bernard Condon. SENT: 740 words, photo. UPCOMING: 700 words by 5 p.m.

— EUROPE-NEGATIVE RATES — Investors have bought billions of euros in German treasury notes that pay negative interest — meaning the purchasers agreed to pay a small fee for the privilege of lending the German government their money. SENT: 340 words.



NEW YORK — Pizza Hut is testing a lighter pizza in two U.S. markets as it seeks to freshen up its menu and regain its footing against competitors. The tests of the "Skinny Slice" pies began this week at several dozen restaurants in Toledo, Ohio, and West Palm Beach, Florida. The pies simply use less of the same dough used for regular pizzas and are lighter on the toppings, said Doug Terfehr, a Pizza Hut spokesman. By Candice Choi. SENT: 480 words.


DENVER — Take it easy on the weed, Colorado pot shoppers are being told in new ad campaigns launched by industry advocates this week. An industry group is sending "Start Low Go Slow" posters to pot dispensaries, and an advocacy group is launching an ad campaign warning new marijuana users not to overdo it. The advertising efforts aim to reduce cases of visitors and new users accidentally eating too much medical-grade pot and getting sick. Pot activists say their campaigns are less insulting than some public-service ads launched by the state this year, which rely on stoner stereotypes. By Kristen Wyatt. SENT: 720 words, photos.


WASHINGTON — Attorney General Eric Holder is seeking to increase incentives for Wall Street whistleblowers who report financial crime. The goal is to encourage more whistleblowers at financial firms to come forward. Holder says such witnesses are critical given the difficulty of developing evidence in financial fraud cases. By Eric Tucker. SENT: 130 words. UPCOMING: Will be updated.


PARIS — The French government on Wednesday urged an end to the strike that has grounded at least half of the airline's flights this week. The pilots are angry about company plans to shift many operations to low-cost affiliate Transavia and transfer some jobs to countries with lower taxes and labor costs. The flagship French carrier argues it needs to cut costs to stay competitive in the face of rivalry from budget airlines and Gulf state carriers. But many passengers in airport departure halls were expressing a mix of fury, frustration and resignation. SENT: 830 words, photos.


HONG KONG — A Hong Kong tycoon has placed the biggest ever order for Rolls-Royce cars, agreeing to buy 30 Phantoms to chauffeur guests at a luxury resort he's building in the global gambling capital of Macau. Stephen Hung's $20 million purchase surpasses the 14 Phantoms bought by Hong Kong's Peninsula Hotel in 2006. By Kelvin Chan. SENT: 440 words, photo.

— ANIMAL ABUSE-DAIRY FARM — The New Mexico Livestock Board launches an investigation into a southern New Mexico dairy after an activist working with an animal welfare group recorded secret video showing workers whipping cows with chains and wire cables, kicking and punching the animals, and shocking them with electric prods. SENT: 680 words.

— AMTRAK-TRUCK CRASH — A Nevada trucking company would pay more than $5.7 million if a judge formalizes a jury verdict finding one of its drivers caused a 2011 crash with an Amtrak train that killed six people and injured dozens. SENT: 130 words.

— CHEMICAL SPILL-SETTLEMENT — A federal bankruptcy judge in West Virginia approves a $2.9 million settlement to benefit 300,000 people whose water was contaminated in a January chemical spill. SENT: 160 words.

— MEIJER-RECALL PENALTY — Midwest retailer Meijer (MY-er) Inc. will pay $2 million to settle charges that the firm knowingly sold and distributed hundreds of recalled products. SENT: 120 words.

— CIVITAS SOLUTIONS-IPO — Shares of Civitas Solutions are inching lower after the company's initial public offering priced at $198.9 million, below its expectations. SENT: 130 words.

— GERMANY-HONG-KONG-CEO — A Chinese shoe manufacturer says two of its top executives have vanished, along with most of the company's cash. Germany-listed Ultrasonic AG says it has been unable to reach its chief executive, Qingyong Wu, and chief operating officer, Minghong Wu, since the weekend. SENT: 130 words.

— BEHIND-THE-WHEEL-CADILLAC ESCALADE — Cadillac's flagship Escalade sport utility vehicle keeps its bold, distinctive style and immense proportions after a major redesign for 2015. SENT: 1,000 words, photo.



DALLAS — Growth in online shopping is boosting profit at FedEx, and the company plans to hire more than 50,000 extra workers to handle what is shaping up as another record year for holiday-season package deliveries. That's up from about 40,000 temporary holiday workers hired last year. By David Koenig. SENT: 720 words, photo.

— SPAIN-EARNS-INDITEX —Spanish fashion retailer Inditex, which owns Zara stores, says net profit fell by 2.4 percent in the first half of 2014 despite robust sales, mainly due to the impact of a strong euro. SENT: 130 words.


— HOLIDAY HIRING-KOHL'S — Kohl's Corp. plans to hire more than 67,000 seasonal workers nationwide for the holiday shopping season, which the company said is a 15 percent increase over last year. SENT: 280 words.

— FAMILY DOLLAR-DOLLAR GENERAL — Family Dollar is telling shareholders to reject an unsolicited, $9.1 billion takeover bid by its rival, Dollar General. Family Dollar is currently trying to arrange a sale to another bargain chain, Dollar Tree. SENT: 250 words, photo.



TOKYO — Sony expects its annual loss to swell to $2 billion and has canceled dividends for the first time in more than half a century after writing down the value of its troubled smartphone business. By Elaine Kurtenbach. SENT: 650 words, photos.

— GAMES-NBA 2K15 — "NBA 2K15" is angling for a slam dunk with an innovative new feature that allows players to put their game faces on. The developers of the interactive basketball game are adding the option for gamers to digitally graft lifelike 3D renditions of their faces onto virtual players in the series' latest installment, set for release on Oct. 7. SENT: 600 words, photos, video.



AHMEDABAD, India — Chinese President Xi Jinping lands in the Indian prime minister's home state of Gujarat for a three-day visit expected to focus on India's need to improve worn out infrastructure and reduce its trade deficit. By R.K. Misra and Katy Daigle. SENT: 700 words, photos.

— BRITAIN-ECONOMY — Bank of England policymakers remain divided on whether to raise interest rates, voting 7-2 at their last meeting in favor of keeping the main rate at a record low 0.5 percent. Minutes from the Sept. 3-4 meeting show Wednesday that policymakers retained the status quo even as Europe's third-largest economy recovers at a brisk pace. With inflation at 1.5 percent, below the 2 percent target, pressure to raise rates remains muted. SENT: 130 words.

— EUROPE-ECONOMY — The inflation rate in August for the 18 countries using the euro has been revised up slightly. The European Union's statistics office, Eurostat, said Wednesday the eurozone's annual inflation rate was 0.4 percent, up from its initial estimate of 0.3 percent published late last month. SENT: 130 words.

— GERMANY-FRANCE-SPACEWAYS — A website aiming to shake up the self-storage market says it is expanding to Paris to take advantage of the French capital's notoriously small apartments. SpaceWays said Wednesday it plans to offer the same home pickup and delivery service, booked online, that's already available in London. The company launched its first site in Britain in July. SENT: 130 words.


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Mortgage-rate disconnect

A recent snapshot of Americans applying for mortgage loans showed the lowest weekly level in nearly 14 years, and it prompted some head scratching. Mortgage interest rates are at historically low and homebuyer-enticing levels. Shouldn't the number of mortgage applications be higher? UPCOMING: Graphic expected by 6 p.m.


Building strength

The improving housing market means Lennar not only sold more homes last quarter than a year ago, it also sold them at higher prices. That helped propel it to a better-than-expected profit. UPCOMING: Graphic expected by 6 p.m.