NEW YORK (AP) — The recent stock market rally lost momentum Wednesday. The Dow added 7 points to 13,176. The S&P added less than a point to 1,402. The Nasdaq lost 5 points to 3,011.
Asia stocks rise on China stimulus hopes
BANGKOK (AP) — Asian stock markets rose today after China's inflation rate eased, adding to hopes that Beijing will do more to stimulate the world's No. 2 economy.
China said its consumer price index rose 1.8 percent in July, down from the previous month's 2.2 percent and well below last year's highs. Lower inflation gives Beijing more room to cut interest rates or take other steps to shore up economic growth that has slowed sharply this year, analysts said.
Inflation is politically dangerous for China's leaders, since rising prices for food and other necessities carries the potential for unrest among tens of millions of poor families that spend up to half their incomes on food. Inflation also erodes economic gains that help underpin the Communist Party's claim to power.
Benchmark crude oil rose to stay above $93 per barrel. The dollar fell against the euro and the yen.
Jobless claims due
WASHINGTON (AP) — Today's focus shifts again to the job market.
On today's economic calendar, the Labor Department releases weekly jobless claims. The Commerce Department has two reports, one on international trade data for June, along with wholesale trade inventories. Freddie Mac has weekly mortgage rates.
More US homes entered foreclosure process in July
LOS ANGELES (AP) — New data show more U.S. homes started on the foreclosure path in July, as lenders tackled a backlog of mortgages gone unpaid even as they pulled back on home repossessions.
Foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac Inc. said Thursday that the number of homes hit with an initial notice of default rose 6 percent last month compared to July last year.
Filings of initial default notices have increased on an annual basis for three months in a row.
The trend comes as banks work to make up for time lost last year as the mortgage-lending industry grappled with foreclosure abuse allegations.
Even so, banks took back 21 percent fewer homes last month than in July last year.
Repossessions have been down on an annual basis every month going back nearly two years.
Nestle posts strong first-half profits, sales
GENEVA (AP) — Swiss food and drinks giant Nestle SA posted a 8.9 percent rise in profits and 7.5 percent rise in sales in the first half compared with a year ago, but predicts that the remainder of 2012 will be challenging.
The world's biggest food and beverage maker, with brands such as Nescafe, Haagen Dazs and Jenny Craig, posted a net profit of 5.120 billion Swiss francs ($5.27 billion) from January to June, up from 4.703 billion francs in the comparable 2011 period.
The Vevey, Switzerland-based company said Thursday first-half sales were 44.1 billion Swiss francs ($45.37 billion), up from $41 billion francs a year ago.
Chief Executive Paul Bulcke said in a statement the first half shows the company is "making the right choices at the right time."
China's inflation falls, giving room for stimulus
BEIJING (AP) — China's inflation fell further in July, giving the government more room to stimulate weak economic growth.
Data reported Thursday showed consumer prices rose 1.8 percent, down from the previous month's 2.2 percent rate and well below last year's highs.
That gives Beijing more room to cut interest rates or take other steps to shore up economic growth that has slowed sharply this year without the risk of igniting a new price spike.
Outback parent stock rises in IPO
NEW YORK (AP) — An initial public offering in shares of the parent of Outback Steakhouse was sizzling on its first day of trading.
Shares of Bloomin' Brands, which also operates other restaurant chains, rose after the IPO portion size was reduced.
Shares rose $1.41, or 12.8 percent to close at $12.42 on Wednesday in the stock's day on the Nasdaq.
The positive reaction from investors is a good sign for other IPOs expected this week. But it comes only after the company reduced its offering price and cut the number of shares that selling shareholders were offering, a sign that companies should keep expectations muted about how much cash they'll reap by going public.
Pilots reject contract with American Airlines
DALLAS (AP) — Pilots for American Airlines expressed their anger with management by overwhelmingly rejecting the company's final contract offer, but mechanics approved a contract by a razor-thin margin.
American said it was disappointed with the pilots' vote. American will ask a federal bankruptcy judge to let it set pay and other working terms for pilots.
The Allied Pilots Association says that the vote against the contract was 4,600 to 2,935. American offered the pilots pay raises and a 13.5 percent stake in the new company in exchange for more flexibility to shift flying to partner airlines.
Many pilots hope that American will be forced into a merger with US Airways. Some believed that ratifying the offer from American would have strengthened the position of American's management and made a merger less likely.
CITIGROUP-OWN TO RENT
Citigroup tries another housing tack: own to rent
UNDATED (AP) — Citigroup will try something new to keep struggling homeowners out of foreclosure: turn them into renters.
CitiMortgage has announced the program, painting it as a way to help homeowners stuck in houses they can't afford. The New York-based bank, however, won't manage the program. Instead, it is handing the reigns to an investment firm. The bank just sold a $158 million mortgage portfolio to investment firms that will manage the program.
Carrington Capital Management and its sister mortgage company will comb the portfolio for eligible homeowners — though they're homeowners in name only, since they are still paying for their houses. Carrington is looking for people who owe more on their house than it's worth, but also seem to have the means to keep making monthly payments.
They also must live in the house, meaning it can't be a vacation home or investment property. And they have to be at least four months late on payments.
Carrington says the pilot program will help about 500 homeowners in six markets that have been hit especially hard by the plunge in housing prices: Arizona, California, Texas, Florida, Nevada and Georgia. It says it will begin contacting eligible homeowners this month.
FDIC-HIGHER ONE-BANCORP SETTLEMENTS
Higher One agrees to return $11M to students
WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal regulators say Higher One has agreed to return about $11 million to college students for overcharging them for fees on debit cards and other practices.
The Federal Deposit Insurance says the settlement with Higher One, which also is paying a $110,000 civil fine and agreed to change the way it imposes fees. In addition, the FDIC said that Bancorp Bank, which issued the debit card administered by Higher One, is paying a $172,000 fine.
New Haven, Conn.-based Higher One violated federal law by charging students multiple fees for overdrawing funds for a single transaction, the FDIC said. The company also allowed debit accounts to remain in overdrawn status for long periods as overdraft funds piled up, and engaged in other deceptive practices, the agency said.
Google to include people's Gmail in search results
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Google's Internet search engine is getting more personal by highlighting information drawn from its users' Gmail accounts on its main results page.
The new feature marks Google's latest attempt to deliver data that people are seeking more quickly as it tries to maintain the dominance of its lucrative Internet search engine.
Google is testing the feature with 1 million Gmail users who must sign up to participate.
Gmail's more than 425 million users already can search within their e-mail accounts to find something they need, such as an order from Amazon.com or an airline reservation.
Now, Gmail users who join the trial will be shown a list of relevant e-mails on Google's main search results page if the correspondence contains a word entered in a search request.