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Around the business world

Daily Staff Report

Consumer confidence plunges in August to its lowest level in 9 months: NEW YORK – Consumers’ confidence in the U.S. economy to tumbled in August to its lowest level in nine months as Americans fretted about the job market and energy costs. Economists said the gloomy feelings could dampen spending going into the holiday shopping months.U.S. poverty rate unchanged; increasing numbers of people lack health insurance: WASHINGTON – Four years into an economic recovery, the number of Americans living in poverty has finally stopped climbing. But the number of uninsured Americans continues to grow because fewer employers are offering health coverage.Oil prices fall below $70 a barrel as Ernesto looks to bypass Gulf of Mexico: NEW YORK – Oil prices fell sharply for the second straight day, dipping below $70 a barrel as Tropical Storm Ernesto veered away from the oil and gas region of the Gulf of Mexico.Stocks slide amid grim economic news: NEW YORK – Wall Street pulled back after disappointing consumer confidence numbers erased investors’ optimism as oil prices hovered at their lowest levels since April.European interest rates unlikely to change: BRUSSELS, Belgium – The European Central Bank will likely keep its key interest rate unchanged when its governing council meets Thursday, but analysts will be watching for signs of an increase coming at its next meeting in October.Auto sales reports don’t bode well for U.S. automakers: DETROIT – Analysts are predicting drops for Ford Motor Co. and DaimlerChrysler AG’s Chrysler Group and flat sales for General Motors Corp., but increases for Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. when automakers report monthly sales on Friday.BP under investigation for manipularing markets: WASHINGTON – Federal investigators are reportedly looking into whether BP PLC manipulated crude-oil and gasoline markets, the latest in a string of inquiries into the British oil company. A company spokesman confirmed BP is cooperating with U.S. authorities, but gave no details.Mississippi’s top casino reopens a year after Katrina: BILOXI, Miss. – Beau Rivage, the crown jewel of what was once Mississippi’s glitzy beachside casino row, reopens one year after Hurricane Katrina – its 3,800 employees parading through the doors to the sounds of spinning slot machines.Chevron ordered out of Chad: N’DJAMENA, Chad – Chevron Corp. said the government of Chad has demanded it to leave the country after it allegedly failed to pay its taxes.First Japanese Apple computer catches fire: TOKYO – Japanese authorities reported Tuesday the first case of an Apple laptop catching fire in Japan and ordered the U.S. company to investigate the trouble involving the faulty Sony batteries and report back within a week.Next generation DVD to hit the shalves later this year: NEW YORK – Some 75 titles, including “The Da Vinci Code” and “Chicken Little,” will go on sale later this year under the next-generation Blu-Ray DVD format. More than a dozen Hollywood studios announced the Blu-ray offerings Tuesday, giving the format another boost as it competes with HD DVD to become the choice for delivering high-definition video with more vivid colors and sharper images than today’s DVDs.Bayer profits bring further pain relief: BERLIN – German chemical and drug maker Bayer AG said Tuesday its second-quarter net profit increased by 11.3 percent, helped by sales growth at its health-care unit. Bayer also announced a restructuring plan for its CropScience unit that will lead to about 1,500 job cuts by the end of 2009, mainly in North America.China’s largest oil producer’s profits jump: BEIJING – Reaping a windfall from surging crude-oil prices, CNOOC Ltd., China’s largest offshore oil and gas producer by output, said Tuesday its first-half net profit jumped 37.6 percent to a record 16.28 billion yuan, or about $2 billion.China wants concessions before restarting WTO talks: BEHJING – China is willing to help restart WTO talks but wants to see developed countries make “substantial contributions” first, a state news agency on Tuesday quoted China’s commerce minister as telling a top American envoy.China aims to reduuce workplace deaths: BEIJING – China’s government is promising to spend $60 billion over the next five years to reduce its high rate of workplace deaths, state media report.Rapid growth in China, India reducing extreme poverty, U.N. labor agency says: BUSAN, South Korea – Economic growth in China and India has dramatically reduced the number of people in Asia subsisting below the poverty level of $1 a day, but the total remains in the hundreds of millions, the International Labor Organization said. Since 1990 about 250 million people have risen above that benchmark, said the report, titled “Labor and Social Trends in Asia and the Pacific 2006: Progress toward Decent Work.” The report came as the U.N. agency that covers work and workplace issues opened a four-day meeting Tuesday in the South Korean port city of Busan. The International Labor Organization meeting is meant to examine the impact of globalization and development on work in Asia-Pacific and find ways to improve conditions in the region, home to 60 percent of the global work force.Profit reorts cheers Fosters beer brewers: SYDNEY, Australia – Foster’s Group, Australia’s largest beer and wine company, on Tuesday reported a 27 percent rise in annual net profit through June to $887 million, helped by the acquisition of wine company Southcorp and rising revenues.Teen mags hitting the skids, although teens aren’t noticing: NEW YORK – This fall, teens who want the 411 on skinny jeans will have fewer teen monthly fashion bibles to flip through. But the moves by Elle Girl and Teen People to pull the plug on their publications and focus on their Web sites don’t mean teens won’t get their fashion fix. As young consumers are finding new alternatives in other media, the teen magazine market is undergoing an adolescent crisis.Real estate funds are booming, while real estate bust looms: NEW YORK – Want proof that markets are complicated? Consider this: Investors poured $193 million last week into real estate funds. There’s a deafening buzz about the housing bubble’s imminent pop, but the incredible success of real estate funds has received little attention. Morningstar tracks more than 200 specialty real estate funds; almost all of them are up double-digits for the year.Designer raisins? Industry looks to wine-making cousin to promote: FRESNO, Calif. – They’re chewy, sweet and they’re thrown into everything from cookies to cereal to kids’ lunch boxes. Raisins start life as a middle-class grape and have never enjoyed the social status of, say, chardonnay or cabernet sauvignon grapes. But researchers are taste-testing the sun-dried delights. They’re finding that the different methods do produce subtle taste differences and preferences among raisin-eaters. Can raisin snobs be far behind?Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado


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