Asian stocks mixed ahead of Fed statement
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - Asian stocks were mixed on Wednesday ahead of the Federal Reserve's policy statement, as strong U.S. economic data raised questions over the likely course for interest rates.
U.S. new home sales data in June exceeded expectations. Americans bought new homes last month at the fastest pace in more than eight years, according to the Commerce Department. Home prices continued their steady upward march in May, thanks to rising sales and a dwindling supply of available houses. Analysts said data continued to auger a broad recovery.
The Federal Open Market Committee is scheduled to release its latest monetary policy statement later today after wrapping up a two-day meeting. While analysts expect the Federal Reserve not to change policy this month, they said recent strength in U.S. economic data and the recovery of investor sentiment since Britain's referendum to leave the European Union have revived the possibility of a rate hike later this year.
On Wall Street, stock markets finished mixed. The Dow closed down 19.31 points, or 0.1 percent, to 18,473.75, weighed down by a drop in shares in McDonald's. The Standard & Poor's 500 was flat and the Nasdaq composite rose 12.42 points, or 0.2 percent, to 5,110.05.
Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell to hover below $43 per barrel.
The dollar gained against the yen and weakened against the euro.
Business and economic events scheduled for Wednesday
WASHINGTON (AP) - Investors will be going over the latest batch of earnings reports today while keeping an eye on the Federal Reserve as it wraps up its latest policy meeting. Most analysts think the Fed will signal that it wants to see further gains before raising interest rates again.
Companies reporting earnings today include Altria, Comcast, Boeing, Coca-Cola, Facebook and Whole Foods. So far, earnings have been better than what analysts had anticipated. According to FactSet, roughly 68 percent of all companies that have reported results have beaten expectations.
A pair of economic reports is also due out today. The Commerce Department will release durable goods for June and the National Association of Realtors will release pending home sales for the same month.
Japan poised to pump up sluggish growth with new stimulus
TOKYO (AP) - Japan's government and central bank appear to be readying a fresh dose of economic stimulus to help revive stalling growth.
Shares in Tokyo jumped today after the Fuji TV network reported Prime Minister Shinzo Abe planned to introduce a new economic stimulus package amounting to about 27 trillion yen ($254 billion).
Staff in Abe's office would not confirm reports he planned to make a formal announcement of the proposal sometime later in the day.
Reports said Abe will propose improved wages for childcare and elder care workers, introduction of needs-based scholarships for college students and reduced employment time required to earn pensions.
Other measures include expanding ports to accommodate ultra-large ships and accelerating a decades-long high-speed maglev train project.
Campaigning for a parliamentary election held earlier this month, Abe promised fresh help for the economy, and ordered his economy minister, Nobuteru Ishihara, to draw up the package.
Earlier reports put the size of the package as low as 6 trillion yen (about $57 billion).
Economists say the Bank of Japan also will likely expand monetary stimulus at a policy meeting that begins Thursday.
French official visits Mississippi to back union at Nissan
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - A French parliamentarian is visiting Mississippi as part of an effort to pressure Nissan Motor Co. to allow workers at its Canton plant to organize a union.
Christian Hutin, deputy chairman of the Social Affairs Commission of the French National Assembly, is meeting Tuesday with workers, lawmakers and other supporters of the United Autoworkers efforts to unionize the plant's 6,200 employees.
The French government has an ownership stake in Nissan's business partner, the Renault Group, and pro-union advocates hope French officials can lobby the company. It's part of a continuing worldwide effort by the UAW to push Nissan to be more accepting of the union.
UAW Secretary-Treasurer Gary Casteel has said the union has collected the required 30 percent of worker signatures to force a union vote at the plant. The union has never sought such a vote, although UAW recruitment efforts have ramped up this year.
The French government owns almost 20 percent of Renault, which in turn owns 42 percent of Nissan.
Hutin and the union say Nissan unfairly pressures workers to vote against a union, something the company denies.
Apple supplier LG Display puts $1.8B into flexible displays
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - LG Display Co., a supplier of Apple's iPhone screens, says it will invest 1.99 trillion won ($1.75 billion) to produce flexible displays for smartphones.
The South Korean company said Wednesday that mass production of flexible displays will start in late 2018, at a scale that will supply enough 5.7-inch sized flexible screens for 3 million handsets per month.
The flexible displays will be made of advanced displays called OLEDs, or organic light emitting diodes, which display more saturated colors than LCDs.
LG is trying to catch up with its rival Samsung Display, which dominates the supply of OLED screens for mobile phones. Samsung uses flexible OLED screens for its Galaxy Edge series smartphones that feature displays that wrap around corners of the devices.
LG Display's biggest client for mobile phones is Apple.
With iPhone sales sagging, Apple's earnings suffer
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Apple says iPhone sales fell for the second quarter in a row, putting a damper on revenue and profit for the period ending June 30.
The tech giant sold 40.4 million iPhones in the quarter, down 15 percent from a year earlier. Profit fell 27 percent to $7.8 billion, while revenue dropped 15 percent to $42.4 billion.
Apple also sold fewer iPads, Macs and smartwatches. Overall results were slightly better than forecast by Wall Street analysts, who said consumers just aren't as excited about the newest iPhone models.
The one bright spot was a 19 percent revenue jump for the Apple segment that includes iTunes, Apple Music, and the App Store.
Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri said online services are increasingly important to Apple, since their financial contribution is increasing.
Twitter still struggling to grow as rivals race ahead
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Twitter's growth remains at a crawl as CEO Jack Dorsey struggles to come up with a strategy to attract people to the sometimes-befuddling messaging service.
According to the company's second-quarter earnings report Tuesday, Twitter had 313 million monthly users. That's a gain of just 3 million since March.
Even more telling, Twitter has added just 9 million monthly users since the San Francisco company brought back Dorsey a year ago to orchestrate a turnaround.
Meanwhile, other digital communications channels such as Facebook and Snapchat are racing ahead in the battle for people's attention and allegiance.
Twitter lost $107 million in the second quarter to extend the company's 10-year history without a profit. Revenue increased 20 percent from the same time last year to $602 million.
Analog Devices to buy Linear Technology in chips deal
UNDATED (AP) - Analog Devices says it's buying fellow chipmaker Linear Technology Corp. for roughly $14.8 billion.
Analog Devices Inc. said Tuesday its offer is worth about $60 per share, 24 percent more than Linear's closing price Monday. The Norwood, Massachusetts company is offering $46 in cash and 0.2321 of Analog Device stock for each Linear share.
Analog Devices says the combined company will have annual revenue of about $5 billion and aims to reach $150 million in cost savings 18 months after the deal closes.
It plans to issue new stock and long-term debt to fund the purchase.
The transaction has been approved by the boards of both companies and is expected to close in mid-2017.
Linear Technology is based in Milpitas, California.
Tesla opens Gigafactory to expand battery production, sales
SPARKS, Nev. (AP) - It's Tesla Motors' biggest bet yet: A massive, $5 billion factory in the Nevada desert that could almost double the world's production of lithium-ion batteries by 2018.
Tesla officially opened its Gigafactory Tuesday. The factory is 14 percent complete; when it's finished, it will be more than 10 million square feet, or about the size of 260 professional football fields. That will make it one of the largest buildings in the world.
The factory is crucial to meeting Tesla's goal of going from a niche maker of luxury vehicles to a full-line maker of affordable cars, pickups and semi trucks.
Tesla recently pushed ahead its goal of making 500,000 vehicles per year to 2018 after big initial demand for its upcoming Model 3 sedan, which goes on sale next year.
Legislator: Pfizer can't complain about execution drug
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - The legislator who drafted the law that keeps most of Arkansas' lethal injection policy a secret says pharmaceutical companies have no standing to complain that prison officials will use their drugs in executions.
The Associated Press reported Monday that it appears Arkansas obtained a paralytic drug made by a subsidiary of Pfizer for use in executions. Pfizer has said it doesn't want its drugs used that way and that it has safeguards in place to prevent it from happening.
State Rep. Doug House said Tuesday that Arkansas had obtained the vecuronium bromide legally, "fair and square." He says Pfizer's only complaint could be with a third-party vendor that sold the drug to the state, not with the state itself.
Arkansas legislators last year passed the secrecy law, saying firms wouldn't sell execution drugs to the state for fear that disclosure could lead to protests or boycotts.
Authorities blame weather for Panama Canal ship scrape
PANAMA CITY (AP) - Panama Canal authorities say a Chinese container ship's damaging scrape with the canal's new wider locks was caused by bad weather and the vessel not lining up correctly.
Canal administrator Jorge Quijano said Tuesday there was intense rain, poor visibility and winds between 30 and 40 knots when the ship carrying 9,000 containers was using the locks Thursday.
Quijano says it was the only such incident in the widened canal's first month of operation. He says unfortunately these things happen in their business.
Before the canal's inauguration, some tug boat captains expressed concern about having relatively little room to maneuver with the huge New Panamax ships.

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7/26/2016 9:26:16 PM (GMT -10:00)