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Global turmoil weighing on stocks but US prices up

NEW YORK (AP) — A burst of buying Friday in U.S. stocks defied slumps in other markets and offered hope for investors shaken by geopolitical turmoil. Major U.S. stock indexes closed up around 1 per cent, buoyed by signs that tensions in Ukraine might be easing.

The rally on Wall Street contrasted with price declines in European and Asian stock markets. Fear has been creeping into stock and bond markets around the world in recent weeks against a backdrop of escalating global conflicts.

As anxieties have risen in recent days, money has been flowing from around the world into U.S. Treasurys, the perennial safe haven for spooked investors.

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Malaysia plans overhaul of national airline

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysia's state investment company said Friday it plans to make Malaysia Airlines fully government owned, removing it from the country's stock exchange before carrying out an overhaul of the carrier that is reeling from double disasters.

Khazanah Nasional, which owns 69 per cent of Malaysia Airlines, said it has proposed to the carrier's board that it buy out minority shareholders at 27 sen (8 cents) a share, which is 29 per cent higher than the airline's average share price over the previous three months. The takeover would cost 1.38 billion ringgit ($429 million).

Malaysia Airlines has been hit by two major disasters this year, which added to its longstanding financial woes.

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Cool summer sets expectations for a record harvest

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A mild summer across much of the nation's heartland has provided optimum growing conditions for the nation's corn and soybean crops. Pair that with high-yield seeds and other new farming technologies, and the U.S. is looking at busting records come harvest time.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture already has predicted a record soybean crop of 3.8 billion bushels. And the corn crop, it said in July, would be large but not bigger than last year's record of 13.9 billion bushels.

However, many market analysts and some farmers expect the USDA to revise expectations upward in a report based on field surveys that's due out Tuesday.

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McDonald's sales hit by China scandal, US weakness

NEW YORK (AP) — McDonald's said Friday that a global sales figure fell 2.5 per cent in July, dragged down by persistent weakness in the U.S. and a food safety scare in China.

The world's biggest hamburger chain said that the decline included a 3.2 per cent drop in the U.S. and a 7.3 per cent drop in the unit encompassing Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

The results reflect what is likely to be just the beginnings of the fallout from a Chinese food scandal late last month.

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Judge rejects $324.5M settlement of tech wage case

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A federal judge rejected as too low a $324.5 million settlement of a class-action lawsuit alleging Google and Apple conspired with several other technology companies to block their top workers from getting better job offers.

The Friday ruling by U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh concludes the more than 60,000 high-tech workers represented in the 3-year-old lawsuit deserve to be paid more money, based on the evidence indicating their earning power was undermined by the collusion among their employers.

Koh estimated that the workers should receive at least $380 million.

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Attorneys general want flavoured e-cigarette ban

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Attorneys general from more than two dozen states want federal regulators to impose restrictions on electronic cigarettes, including a ban on the more than 7,000 flavours now available.

In a letter Friday to the Food and Drug Administration, they say limits on advertising and prohibiting flavours besides tobacco and menthol will help protect minors.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says that while they contain no tobacco, e-cigarettes have all the same addictive qualities as regular cigarettes.

In April, the federal agency proposed treating e-cigarettes as tobacco products, putting them under its regulatory control.

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Etihad buys 49 per cent of loss-making Alitalia

ROME (AP) — Fast-growing Etihad Airways took effective control of Italy's loss-making national carrier Alitalia on Friday, injecting 560 million euros ($750 million) in a deal that will see the Gulf airline gain access to one of Europe's major markets.

Etihad, which is buying a 49 per cent stake in the Rome-based carrier, said Friday it will restructure Alitalia and even laid out the hope of returning it to profitability by 2017.

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GM compensation fund gets claims in 63 death cases

DETROIT (AP) — Sixty-three death claims have been filed so far with the lawyer handling payments for those involved in wrecks caused by faulty General Motors ignition switches.

A spokeswoman for compensation expert Kenneth Feinberg says he received 125 claims by Friday afternoon. Sixty-two others seek payments for injuries. Feinberg started taking claims Aug. 1.

Spokeswoman Camille Biros says Feinberg still has to determine if the claims are eligible for payments.

"The number of claims filed does not equate in any way to the number that will ultimately be deemed eligible," she said in an email message. "With all of these compensation programs, you will receive many claims that cannot even get beyond the first test of eligibility."

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GM issues 6 more recalls covering 312,000 vehicles

DETROIT (AP) — General Motors is issuing six more recalls totalling more than 312,000 vehicles as the company cleans up past safety issues.

The recalls in North America pushed GM's total for the year to 66, covering just over 29 million cars and trucks.

That beats the company's old full-year record and has pushed this total number for the industry this year to more than 40 million, also an annual record.

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US productivity recovers after steep 1Q fall

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Labor Department said Friday that that productivity increased 2.5 per cent at a seasonally adjusted annual rate in the April-June quarter, after plummeting 4.5 per cent in the first quarter.

That was the steepest drop in 31 years, and reflected a sharp 2.1 per cent contraction in the economy. Economists blamed most of that shrinkage on temporary factors, such as harsh weather and a cutback in stockpiling by businesses.

Productivity measures output per hour of work. Greater productivity increases living standards because it enables companies to pay their workers more without having to increase prices, which can boost inflation.

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US cool to Argentina world court bid over default

WASHINGTON (AP) — An attempt by Argentina to sue the U.S. in the world court appears unlikely to get off the ground.

Argentina had sought to bring the case to the International Court of Justice in the Hague after a series of rulings in U.S. courts forced the South American country into a default on its sovereign debt.

The U.S. would have to agree to grant the international court jurisdiction for the case to proceed. A State Department spokesperson signalled Friday that the U.S. would not do so.

The spokesperson said the world court is "not an appropriate venue" for the matter and that Argentina should negotiate with its creditors.

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 185.66 points, or 1.1 per cent, to 16,553.93. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 22.02 points, or 1.2 per cent, to 1,931.59. The Nasdaq composite rose 35.93 points, or 0.8 per cent, to 4,370.90

Benchmark U.S. crude rose 31 cents to close at $97.65 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, fell 42 cents to close at $105.02 on the ICE Futures exchange in London. Wholesale gasoline fell 1.9 cents to close at $2.754 a gallon. Natural gas rose 8.6 cents to close at $3.962 per 1,000 cubic feet. Heating oil fell 1.9 cents to close at $2.877 a gallon.

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