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Around the business world

Consumer confidence posts modest increase in July: NEW YORK Consumers unexpectedly became a bit more bullish about the economy in July, according to a private research group, but there are warning signs that such optimism may be short-lived as shoppers face concerns like higher energy prices and a cooling housing market.Stocks fall again: NEW YORK Stocks drifted lower in aimless trading as mixed earnings news overshadows an unexpected jump in consumer confidence and leaves investors cautious about extending the prior sessions sharp advance.UPS second-quarter profit misses expectations, stock falls: ATLANTA UPS Inc., the worlds largest shipping carrier, reported a 7.6 percent increase in second-quarter profit on strong sales gains, but it missed Wall Street expectations as it was hurt by high fuel, rail, health care and pension costs. Its shares dropped.Altria second-quarter profit rises 81 percent: NEW YORK Altria, the worlds biggest cigarette maker, reported stronger-than-expected second quarter earnings and predicted profits would continue to rise as international sales expand. Analysts said that if a civil racketeering case goes in its favor, Altria would be free to pursue a break-up plan that could increase shareholder value. Time for GM to put up or shut up: DETROIT General Motors Corp. will have a chance to show its turnaround efforts are working when it releases second-quarter financial results Wednesday. The earnings report comes as the automaker is facing pressure to join an alliance with Nissan and Renault and less than a week after rival Ford Motor Co. conceded that its own restructuring was moving too slowly.Chicago mulls over proposal requiring big box retailers to pay workers more: CHICAGO The City Council will consider a proposal this week that would make Chicago the nations biggest city to require big box retailers like Wal-Mart to pay their workers more. The mayor and others warn that will drive away desperately needed jobs.Texas, Illinois go head-to-head to win $1B future coal power plant project: DALLAS Texas and Illinois will compete for the worlds first near-zero-emissions coal power plant, a $1 billion project headed by the U.S. Department of Energy and a consortium of 10 companies from the United States, China and Australia. The final decision on the site will be made next year.McDonalds profits jump: NEW YORK McDonalds Corp. second-quarter earnings jumped 57 percent as the worlds largest restaurant company benefitted from its strongest quarterly result in Europe in more than 10 years.Lockheeds earnings soar: NEW YORK Defense contractor Lockheed Martin Corp. said its earnings swelled 26 percent in the second quarter, as its information technology and systems segment continued to outpace sales of the fighter jets and military planes.Washington walkers feeling the bounce in their steps: WASHINGTON Pounding the pavement is getting easier on peoples knees in many cities around the country. For reasons of safety and ease of maintenance, Washington and dozens of other communities are installing rubber sidewalks made of ground-up tires.Poor farmers are the big losers as WTO trade talks collapse: GENEVA The worlds poorest nations may take the strongest blow from the failure by six top trading powers to agree on new rules on farm and industrial goods as rich and emerging WTO members focus on separate pacts with one another instead, experts say.Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado


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