BC-Business News Preview

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

Among the stories Wednesday from The Associated Press:

TOP STORIES:

FEDERAL RESERVE

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.

With:

— 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.

RETHINKING POT-DUELING ADS

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.

MARKETS & ECONOMY:

CONSUMER PRICES

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.

BUILDER SENTIMENT

WASHINGTON — U.S. homebuilders' confidence in the market for new, single-family homes surged this month to the highest level in nearly nine years. By Alex Veiga. SENT: 140 words, photo. UPCOMING: 350 words by 10:45 a.m.

CURRENT ACCOUNT

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.

FINANCIAL MARKETS

NEW YORK — U.S. stocks are rising slightly in early trading, ahead of a Federal Reserve announcement this afternoon that might signal when the central bank will raise interest rates. By Bernard Condon. SENT: 590 words, photo. UPCOMING: 700 words by 5 p.m.

INDUSTRY:

HONG KONG-ROLLS ROYCE

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.

FRANCE-PILOTS STRIKE

PARIS — The French government wants Air France pilots to end a strike that has grounded half of the airline's flights this week amid anger over plans to shift much of its operations to a low-cost carrier. Air France argues that it needs to cut costs to stay competitive in the face of tough rivalry from budget airlines and Gulf state carriers. SENT: 130 words. UPCOMING: 500 words, photos.

— 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.

— 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: 590 words.

EARNINGS:

— EARNS-FEDEX — FedEx's fiscal first-quarter net income rises 24 percent, and the company says it plans to hire more than 50,000 extra workers — more than double last year — to handle holiday-season package deliveries. The results beat analysts' estimates. SENT: 430 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.

RETAIL:

— HOLIDAY HIRING-KOHL'S — Kohl's Corp. says it will hire more than 67,000 seasonal workers nationwide for the holiday shopping season, about a third more than last year's 50,000.

— 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.

TECHNOLOGY & MEDIA:

ALIBABA IPO-INSIDERS

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.

JAPAN-SONY

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.

INTERNATIONAL:

RUSSIA-BILLIONAIRE ARRESTED

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.

INDIA-CHINA

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.