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Burger King plans expansion of Tim Hortons

MIAMI (AP) — The fight for the coffee and breakfast crowd is heating up, both at home and abroad.

Burger King said Tuesday it will buy Tim Hortons in an $11 billion deal that would create the world's third largest fast-food chain. The company is hoping to turn the coffee-and-doughnut chain into a household name outside Canada, and give itself a stronger foothold in the booming morning business.

The international ambitions for Tim Hortons echo the strategy Burger King's owner, 3G Capital, has applied to Burger King since buying the hamburger chain in 2010. Given Burger King's struggles in the U.S., the investment firm has focused on opening more locations in countries including China and Russia by striking deals with local franchisees.

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Another milestone: S&P 500 closes above 2,000

The Standard & Poor's 500 index closed a hair above 2,000 points Tuesday, 16 years after it finished above 1,000 for the first time.

The move extended the stock index's record-shattering run this year. The latest milestone comes as investors see new signs that the economy is strengthening, a driver of stronger company earnings.

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AP survey: Fed's outlook correct but not solution

WASHINGTON (AP) — Economists appear to be of two minds about the Federal Reserve.

They agree with the Fed that the job market still isn't healthy. Yet the latest Associated Press survey of economists finds that most fear the Fed will wait too long to raise interest rates and thereby risk stoking inflation or creating asset bubbles.

The duality of their views underscores the perils of the Fed's policymaking.

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Survey: US consumer confidence near a 7-year high

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. consumer confidence this month reached its highest point in nearly seven years, boosted by strong job gains.

The Conference Board said Tuesday that its confidence index rose for a fourth straight month to 92.4 from 90.3 in July. The August reading is the highest since October 2007, two months before the Great Recession officially began.

The optimism suggests that Americans will be more likely to spend in the months ahead, an important boost to the economy. Consumer spending drives about 70 per cent of U.S. economic activity.

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Even if attacked, airline could be liable in crash

Families of passengers who were on the Malaysia Airlines plane shot down over Ukraine are starting to sort through the long process of gaining compensation for their loss.

Officials in the Netherlands, where the majority of Flight 17 victims lived, say that Malaysia Airlines has been making $50,000 payments to the families without admitting any wrongdoing in the crash.

Such payments may create goodwill, lawyers say, but they are not likely to discourage some families from seeking more than the amount promised under an international treaty — about $174,000.

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China courts documentaries as it limits expression

BEIJING (AP) — China is wooing filmmakers at the same time as it's cracking down on them.

Authorities are handing more slots to documentaries, giving even independent filmmakers a chance to be shown on state television.

But while China is avidly pursuing what it considers serious content to replace popular dating, reality and game shows, it is also stifling material with any whiff of challenging the Communist Party line.

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US home price gains slow in June

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. home prices increased at a slower pace in June, a cooldown that could continue for several more months.

The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index rose 8.1 per cent in June from 12 months earlier, according to a Tuesday report. That's down from 9.4 per cent a month earlier and the smallest annual gain since December 2012.

Yearly price growth weakened in all 20 cities. Home values in Cleveland nudged up just 0.8 per cent. Las Vegas led with a 15.2 per cent gain. But prices in Las Vegas, Phoenix, Miami and Tampa, Florida, are still at least 33 per cent below their housing bubble peaks of almost a decade ago.

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Study: Social media users shy away from opinions

WASHINGTON (AP) — People who use Facebook and Twitter are less likely than others to share their opinions on hot-button issues, even when they are offline, according to a surprising new survey by the Pew Research Center.

The study, done in conjunction with Rutgers University in New Jersey, challenges the view of social media as a vehicle for debate by suggesting that sites like Facebook and Twitter might actually encourage self-censorship. Researchers said they detect what they call the "spiral of silence" phenomenon: Unless people know their audience agrees, they are likely to shy away from discussing anything controversial.

In other words, most of us are more comfortable with ice-bucket challenges than political banter.

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UN health agency urges crackdown on e-cigarettes

GENEVA (AP) — Governments should have tougher rules for electronic cigarettes — banning their use indoors and putting them off limits for minors — until more evidence can be gathered about their risks, the U.N. health agency said Tuesday.

In a bid to set public policy, the World Health Organization said the popular nicotine-vapour products, particularly the fruit, candy and alcohol-drink flavours, could serve as gateway addictions for children and adolescents.

It recommended governments forbid or keep to a minimum any advertising, promotion or sponsorship in a market that has mushroomed to $3 billion last year and now includes 466 different brands.

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones Industrial average rose 29.83 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 17,106.70. The Standard & Poor's 500 index added 2.10 points, or 0.1 per cent, to close at 2,000.02. The Nasdaq composite gained 13.29 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 4,570.64.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose 51 cents to close at $93.86 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, fell 15 cents to close at $102.50 on the ICE Futures exchange in London. Wholesale gasoline rose 1.3 cents to close at $2.763 a gallon. Natural gas fell 2.6 cents to close at $3.911 per 1,000 cubic feet. Heating oil rose 0.7 cent to close at $2.844 a gallon.

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