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Yellen to give her outlook as Fed honeymoon fades

WASHINGTON (AP) — Janet Yellen has won credit for guiding the Federal Reserve's first six months of transition from the Ben Bernanke era. Bernanke's Fed had steered the economy through a deep crisis by slashing interest rates and restoring confidence in banks. Yellen has so far carried on his approach with barely a hiccup.

She may one day recall her first six months as a too-brief honeymoon.

The perilous question that now awaits Yellen's Fed has put investors on nervous alert: Can it manage to raise rates from record lows without weakening the U.S. economy or spooking markets?

Or, conversely, will it wait too long to raise rates, causing the economy to overheat and inflation to surge?

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Global cruise lines set sail for China

HONG KONG (AP) — Royal Caribbean's newest ship has attractions not usually seen on cruise liners, including bumper cars, a skydiving simulator and a glass observation capsule on a mechanical arm that lifts its passengers high into the air.

What's also a surprise is the vessel's intended home port: Shanghai.

After floating out of a German shipyard last week, the $935 million Quantum of the Seas will spend the winter running between New York and the Caribbean before moving to its new base next summer in mainland China's financial centre.

It's a gutsy move for the world's second biggest cruise company. Cruise operators have traditionally sent older vessels to developing countries while saving their most advanced ships for U.S. and European customers. But surging growth in China means it's a market operators can no longer ignore.

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APNewsBreak: BofA reaches $17B settlement with US

WASHINGTON (AP) — Bank of America has reached a record $17 billion settlement to resolve an investigation into its role in the sale of mortgage-backed securities before the 2008 financial crisis, officials directly familiar with the matter said Wednesday.

One of the officials, who spoke with The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the announcement isn't scheduled until Thursday at the earliest, said the bank will pay $10 billion in cash and provide consumer relief valued at $7 billion.

The deal is the largest settlement arising from the economic meltdown in which millions of Americans lost their homes to foreclosure. It follows agreements in the last year with Citigroup for $7 billion and with JPMorgan Chase & Co. for $13 billion.

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Women small business owners struggle to get loans

NEW YORK (AP) — Women are a growing force in the business world, but if they own a company, they may still struggle to get a loan from a bank.

Carrie Charlick and Marcia Cubitt have $4 million in sales but have been rejected for $500,000 credit lines since 2012. Their 11-year-old company, Essential Body Wear, sells women's underwear at parties at customers' homes. That's a problem for bankers, Charlick says. Because the business, based in the Detroit suburb of Commerce Township, doesn't have a traditional structure and sells directly to the public rather than retailers, banks keep saying no.

Male loan officers have also made inappropriate comments about the fact the company sells lingerie. Charlick is convinced that they have a problem with women-owned businesses.

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Target cuts outlook as breach fallout lingers

NEW YORK (AP) — Target Corp. slashed its annual profit outlook for the second time in three months as the retailer reels from a massive customer-data breach, a botched Canadian expansion and sluggish U.S. sales.

The nation's third-largest retailer also said Wednesday that its second-quarter earnings dropped 61.7 per cent. Excluding expenses related to the data breach, earnings per share came in a penny short of Target's reduced estimate, issued earlier this month.

The latest results highlight the challenges that new CEO Brian Cornell, a former PepsiCo executive who officially started at Target Aug. 12, faces on all fronts.

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Apple's stock bounces back to hit a new high

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Apple's stock touched a new high Wednesday, reflecting investors' renewed faith in CEO Tim Cook's ability to outwit the competition and expand the technological hit factory built by the late Steve Jobs.

The milestone represents a dramatic turnaround in sentiment since Apple's shares reached its previous split-adjusted peak of $100.72 in September 2012. After hitting $101.09 Wednesday afternoon, shares closed up 4 cents at $100.57. That gave Apple a market value of $602 billion — by far more than any other publicly held company.

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Macy's to pay $650,000 in shopper-profiling probe

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Macy's has agreed to pay $650,000 to settle allegations of racial profiling at its flagship store in Manhattan's Herald Square.

Under the agreement signed Tuesday with New York's attorney general, the retailer will adopt new policies on police access to its security camera monitors and against profiling, further train employees, investigate customer complaints, keep better records of detentions and report for three years on its compliance.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said the settlement should help ensure customers are treated equally regardless of race or ethnicity at the retail giant's 42 department stores statewide.

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Warren Buffett's firm to pay $896,000 penalty

OMAHA, Nebraska (AP) — Warren Buffett's company has agreed to an $896,000 penalty for failing to tell regulators about a December 2013 investment in wallboard maker USG Corp. beforehand.

The Federal Trade Commission said Wednesday that Berkshire Hathaway Inc. should have notified the U.S. Justice Department before it converted $325 million of senior USG notes it held into 21.4 million shares of the company.

Because Berkshire was already a significant USG shareholder, antitrust laws required it to notify regulators because of the size of the deal. At the end of June, Berkshire held just over 39 million USG shares.

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Brine firm sues over biblical fracking billboard

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio man who uses a biblical reference and a statement against "poisoned waters" on billboards opposing wells for disposal of gas-drilling wastewater is fighting a legal threat from the Texas well owner on free-speech grounds.

Austin, Texas-based Buckeye Brine alleges in a July lawsuit that the billboards paid for by Michael Boals, of Coshocton in eastern Ohio, contain false and defamatory attacks against its two wells, which dispose of contaminated wastewater from oil and gas drilling.

The complaint by the company and Rodney Adams, who owns the land and operates the well site, contends the wells are safe, legal and meet all state safety standards. The parties object to statements on two billboards along U.S. Route 36, including one that "DEATH may come."

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Cowboys worth more than $3 billion, tops in NFL

NEW YORK (AP) — The Dallas Cowboys are the first U.S. sports franchise to top $3 billion in value.

For the eighth straight year, the Cowboys are worth the most of all 32 NFL franchises, according to Forbes. They're valued at $3.2 billion; only Real Madrid at $3.4 billion is worth more among global franchises.

Dallas posted the NFL's highest revenue, $560 million, and operating income, $246 million. That was far ahead of second-place New England, worth $2.6 billion and with $428 million in revenues, $147 million in operating income.

But the Patriots had the biggest increase since last year, up 44 per cent in value. Dallas was up 39 per cent.

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones Industrial average rose 59.54 points, or 0.4 per cent, to 16,979.13. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 4.91 points, or 0.3 per cent, to close at 1,986.51. The Nasdaq composite fell 1.03 points, or 0.02 per cent, to 4,526.48.

Benchmark U.S. oil gained $1.59, or 1.7 per cent, to $96.07 a barrel. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils imported by many U.S. refineries, rose 72 cents to $102.28 a barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline added 1.72 cents to $2.713 a gallon. Heating oil rose less than a penny to $2.826 a gallon. Natural gas fell 5.4 cents to $3.823 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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