Business Highlights

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Associated Press

Posted on July 22, 2013 at 7:00 PM

Updated Monday, Jul 22 at 7:02 PM

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NSA revelations reframe digital life for some

In Louisiana, the wife of a former soldier is scaling back on Facebook posts and considering unfriending old acquaintances, worried an innocuous joke or long-lost associate might one day land her in a government probe. In California, a college student encrypts chats and emails, saying he's not planning anything sinister but shouldn't have to sweat snoopers. And in Canada, a lawyer is rethinking the data products he uses to ensure his clients' privacy.

As the attorney, Chris Bushong, put it: "Who wants to feel like they're being watched?"

News of the U.S. government's secret surveillance programs that targeted phone records but also information transmitted on the Internet has done more than spark a debate about privacy. Some are reviewing and changing their online habits as they reconsider some basic questions about today's interconnected world. Among them: How much should I share and how should I share it?

Some say they want to take preventative measures in case such programs are expanded. Others are looking to send a message — not just to the U.S. government but to the Internet companies that collect so much personal information.

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McDonald's predicts tough year despite new items

NEW YORK (AP) — McDonald's is mixing up its menu with healthier, fresher sounding items such as its chicken McWraps, but not enough customers are biting.

The world's biggest hamburger chain on Monday reported a second-quarter profit that rose 4 percent but fell short of Wall Street expectations. It also said July sales are expected to be relatively flat and warned of a tough year ahead, given the heightened competition and rough economic conditions around the world.

The company, which has more than 34,000 locations worldwide, says global sales edged up 1 percent at restaurants open at least a year. The figure rose by the same amount in the U.S., where McDonald's has been touting its Dollar Menu while also trying to adapt to changing eating habits with items such as its veggie-filled chicken wraps and egg-white breakfast sandwiches.

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US home sales dip but remain near 3½-year high

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. sales of previously occupied homes slipped in June to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.08 million but remain near a 3½-year high.

The National Association of Realtors said Monday that sales fell 1.2 percent last month from an annual rate of 5.14 million in May. The NAR revised down May's sales, but they were still the highest since November 2009.

Despite last month's dip, home sales have surged 15.2 percent from a year ago. Sales have recovered since early last year, buoyed by job gains and low mortgage rates.

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Glaxo says executives may have broken Chinese law

BEIJING (AP) — GlaxoSmithKline, target of a bribery probe in China, said Monday some executives may have broken the law, while rival drug maker AstraZeneca said police are investigating one of its sales representatives.

GSK said its president for Asia-Pacific and emerging markets met with Chinese police officials who are investigating whether GSK employees bribed doctors and hospital administrators to prescribe its drugs.

Four employees of GSK China, including a vice president, have been detained, according to police. The company says its China finance director is barred from leaving the country but is not detained.

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UBS in settlement with US over mortgages

GENEVA (AP) — The U.S. government has reached "an agreement in principle" to settle its lawsuit against Swiss banking giant UBS AG that seeks to recoup more than $900 million in losses from mortgage-backed securities, the bank announced Monday.

In 2011, the U.S. government sued UBS and 17 other financial firms for selling some $196 billion worth of mortgage-backed securities to housing financing agencies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. However the securities turned toxic when the housing market collapsed.

Among the major U.S. banks targeted by the lawsuits were Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co., and Goldman Sachs Group Inc., but the action extended to other large European banks including The Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays Bank and Credit Suisse.

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Netflix gains 630,000 subscribers as 2Q earnings soar

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Netflix's revival of the comedy series "Arrested Development" didn't reel in as many subscribers to the Internet video service as Wall Street had hoped, turning a solid second-quarter earnings report into a reality check.

Even though Netflix's profit more than quadrupled, the report released Monday flopped among investors because it didn't live up to the lofty expectations propelling the company's high-flying stock. The shares have nearly tripled since the beginning of the year, raising the pressure on Netflix Inc. to deliver specular numbers.

That didn't' happen during the three months ending in June, despite the much-anticipated return of "Arrested Development" after a seven-year absence. Netflix's stock slid $15.11, or 5.8 percent, to $246.80 in extended trading after the numbers came out.

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Hasbro 2Q results miss Wall Street's expectations

PAWTUCKET, R.I. (AP) — It wasn't a blockbuster quarter for Hasbro.

The No. 2 toymaker said that its second-quarter net income fell 16 percent, hurt by weak sales of movie-related action figures and its spinning-top game Beyblade.

Results missed expectations but shares ticked up nearly 2 percent in morning trading, as investors focused on Hasbro's upcoming "Star Wars" opportunities in 2015 and beyond and strength in its girls' properties such as My Little Pony.

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Loeb to sell 40 million Yahoo shares as he leaves board

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Activist investor Dan Loeb is leaving Yahoo's board with a windfall after a 15-month stint that vindicated his crusade to shake up the long-slumping company under new leadership.

Yahoo Inc. is spending $1.16 billion to buy back 40 million of the shares that Loeb's hedge fund, Third Point LLC, began buying in 2011 around the same time Yahoo was ushering out Carol Bartz as its CEO.

Third Point is being paid $29.11 per share, more than double the average of $13.77 per share that it paid while accumulating a 5.8 percent stake in Yahoo. Based on that price, Loeb and his New York hedge fund will realize a pretax gain of about $610 million from the sale.

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Toyota opens training facility for quality control

TAJIMI, Japan (AP) — Toyota is opening a training facility for mechanics complete with a test course that simulates 13 driving conditions including cobblestones and bumpy roads as part of the automaker's efforts to avoid a repeat of its recall fiasco.

A ceremony with Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda and government officials was held at the 9 billion yen ($90 million) Tajimi Service Center Monday in Gifu Prefecture, central Japan, near Toyota city where the car maker is headquartered.

Toyoda said quality must remain a priority even as the company becomes ever more global, with buyers driving on a range of road conditions. The center will initially train about 2,600 mechanics year, and eventually 4,800 mechanics a year, the company said.

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Six Flags investigating fatal roller coaster death

DALLAS (AP) — Six Flags Entertainment Corp. is using "both internal and external experts" to investigate the roller coaster accident that killed a woman at its Dallas-area amusement park, the company's president said Monday.

Jim Reid-Anderson said during a conference call to discuss the company's earnings that Six Flags officials were joining the call with "heavy hearts." He offered no details about the investigation but said Six Flags was using experts from within and outside the company.

A message left with a company spokeswoman wasn't immediately returned.

Rosa Ayala-Goana was killed when she fell Friday from the Texas Giant roller coaster at Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington, a western suburb of Dallas. Witnesses told authorities that Ayala-Goana expressed concern moments before the 14-story ride began that the safety bar had not completely engaged.

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial rose nearly 1.8 points, or 0.01 percent, to 15,545.55. The S&P 500 index rose three points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,695.53. The Nasdaq composite climbed 12.77 points, or 0.4 percent, to 3,600.39.

Benchmark crude oil dropped $1.14 to finish at $106.91 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, which is traded on the ICE Futures exchange in London, rose 8 cents to end at $108.15 a barrel.

Wholesale gasoline lost 7 cents to finish at $3.06 a gallon. Heating oil gave up 2 cents to end at $3.07 a gallon. Natural gas retreated by 11 cents to finish at $3.68 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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