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Around the business world

Stocks fall for the third straight day: NEW YORK Surging oil prices pulled stocks sharply lower for a third straight session, with bland earnings at General Electric Co. and weak consumer data further dampening the economic outlook. The Dow Jones industrial average lost almost 400 points this week.Mideast jitters pushes oil proces up: WASHINGTON Intensifying violence in the Middle East stokes fears of an oil-supply disruption in the region, pushing oil prices above $78 a barrel.Consumer spending drops again: WASHINGTON Consumers continued to curtail their spending last month as rising gasoline prices dampened purchases of other goods, a fresh indication of a cooling economy.Culture clash awaits GM/Renault merger: DETROIT When Rick Wagoner and Carlos Ghosn meet face-to-face to begin talks about joining their auto companies, theyll discuss potential cost savings and competitive advantages that could change the course of automotive history. But even if the top executives of General Motors and Renault and Nissan agree to join forces, they face a tremendous challenge of pulling together companies with vastly disparate cultures.GE earnings up again: STAMFORD, Conn. General Electric Co., the industrial, financial services and media conglomerate, says its second-quarter profit rose 4 percent as five of its six businesses achieved double-digit earnings growth. Its outlook disappoints investors and its share fall, however.Mercks future is up in the air: TRENTON A key question now that Merck has four out of seven Vioxx trial victories is what impact will there be from recent revelations that the painkiller increased risk of heart attack within a few months use not the 18-month minimum on which Merck has built its legal strategy. The first trial involving short-term use since those disclosures is under way now in Los Angeles.Fords credit rating takes a hit: DETROIT Moodys Investors Service lowered Ford Motor Co.s credit rating deeper into junk status, saying the market shift from big SUVs to cars was hurting the companys prospects for recovery.Airshow displays Airbus weaknesses: LONDON The Farnborough Airshow, one of the major trade events on the aviation industry calendar, could hardly come at a worse time for European plane maker Airbus, which is still reeling from the controversy over delays to its flagship A380 superjumbo that led to the departure of the companys chief executive and a management overhaul. By Jane Wardell.Russia may join WTO: ST. PETERSBURG, Russia Russia appears close to gaining a long-sought economic goal U.S. support for membership in the World Trade Organization, the group that sets the rules for global commerce. U.S. and Russian trade negotiators are working to wrap up talks so that a deal could be announced by President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin when the two leaders meet Saturday. The Group of Eight leaders appear intent on going beyond their marquee agenda items of energy security, infectious diseases and education to push for a breakthrough on the long-stalled Doha round of talks on reducing trade barriers to poor countries.Judge wants to review telephone merger: WASHINGTON A federal judge wants to review internal documents from the Federal Communications Commission involving the agencys review of the now-completed mergers of SBC Communications Inc. with AT&T Corp. and Verizon Communications Inc. with MCI Inc. Japan raises interest rates off zero percent: TOKYO Japans central bank raised interest rates for the first time in six years, ending an era of zero percent interest and sending the clearest signal yet that the worlds second-largest economy has pulled out of a decade-long slump.Bank of Japan boss wont step down: TOKYO Bank of Japan Gov. Toshihiko Fukui says he would not step down from the helm of the countrys central bank over an investment scandal and that the banks interest rate increase does not signal consecutive hikes soon. Saab aerospace profits soar: STOCKHOLM Swedish aerospace and defense company Saab AB says its second quarter profit rose 82 percent, mainly due to a large order for a surveillance aircraft system to Pakistan.Vail, Colorado


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