US stocks move higher after two days of losses
NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are inching higher in midday trading on Wall Street after corporate earnings got off to an encouraging start.
The gains follow two days of losses for major U.S. indexes.
Alcoa rose 5 percent after reporting earnings the night before that were better than investors were expecting.
American Airlines rose 3.5 percent after raising its sales forecast for the second quarter.
This afternoon (at 2 p.m. EDT) the Federal Reserve releases minutes from its most recent meeting in June. After that meeting wrapped up, the Fed made clear that it sees no need to raise short-term interest rates from record lows anytime soon.
Medicare providers complain of duplicative audits
MIAMI (AP) — Health care companies say they're losing millions of dollars that are tied up in appeals because of increasing numbers of Medicare audits. But a new report says the rise in the often duplicative audits has failed to reduce Medicare fraud.
A report released Wednesday by the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging reveals Medicare fraud in the fee-for-service program has steadily declined since 2009. But improper payments rose between from $30 billion to $36 billion between 2011 and 2012, according to the report that cites the most recent data available.
Around that same time, officials started using a $77 million technology screening system designed to fight fraud the way credit card companies scan charges and can freeze accounts.
Health care companies and other stakeholder are meeting with committee chairman Sen. Bill Nelson on Wednesday to discuss what they call burdensome audits and reviews.
Government made $100B in improper payments
WASHINGTON (AP) — The federal government says it made about $100 billion in payments last year to people who may not have been entitled to receive them.
Tax credits went to families that didn't qualify, unemployment benefits went to people who had jobs and medical payments were made for treatments that might not have been necessary.
Congressional investigators say the figure could be even higher.
The Obama administration has reduced the amount of improper payments since they peaked in 2010. Still, estimates from federal agencies show that some are wasting big money at a time when Congress is squeezing their budgets.
The improper payments include overpayments, underpayments, payments to the wrong recipient and payments made without proper documentation.
A House Oversight subcommittee is holding a hearing on the issue Wednesday afternoon.
US sanctions 3 firms for aiding Syrian government
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Treasury Department is sanctioning three companies suspected of aiding the Syrian government, which is fighting opposition forces in a civil war that has killed more than 160,000 people.
The Treasury Department on Wednesday designated Pangates International Corp., a petroleum company based in the United Arab Emirates, for supplying materials to the Syrian government and the Syrian state oil company.
Also sanctioned were Expert Partners and Megatrade, two Syrian-based companies suspected of having links to Syria's weapons programs. The department says the two companies act on behalf of the U.S.-sanctioned Scientific Studies and Research Center. That's the Syrian agency responsible for developing and producing nonconventional weapons and ballistic missiles.
The action bans Americans from conducting transactions with the companies named and freezes any assets they may have under U.S. jurisdiction.
Source: American Apparel to receive financing
NEW YORK (AP) — American Apparel Inc. has reached a preliminary deal with investment firm Standard General to receive $25 million in financing to bolster the clothing chain's finances, according to a person close to the negotiations.
The deal will help pay off a $10 million loan from investment firm Lion Capital, which made a formal demand for payment Monday.
It will also mean shaking up American Apparel's board, said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the discussions. The pact is expected to be announced later Wednesday.
What remains to be seen is what role American Apparel's ousted founder and CEO Dov Charney will play.
On June, 18, the Los Angeles-based company's board fired Charney as chairman and suspended him as president and CEO, citing "alleged misconduct."
Google picks 5 charities to create ideas for Glass
WASHINGTON (AP) — Google has chosen five charities to develop ideas using Web-connected Google Glass to enhance their work.
After receiving 1,300 proposals, Google is announcing five nonprofits Wednesday that'll get a free pair of the glasses, a $25,000 grant and support from developers.
Classroom Champions of Jacksonville, Florida, will use the glasses to create first-person educational videos by Paralympic athletes for high-need schools.
Lumberton, North Carolina-based 3,000 Miles to a Cure will deliver information to riders participating in a bicycle race for charity.
Mark Morris Dance Group of New York will create dance-based tools for people with Parkinson's disease.
Women's Audio Mission in San Francisco will develop music and media-based learning programs for women and girls.
And Baltimore-based Hearing and Speech Agency will develop new ways to help people with communication difficulties.
China, US differ on global plan to cut emissions
BEIJING (AP) — China and the United States have taken small steps toward their shared goal of fighting climate change but remain significantly apart over a wider global plan to cut carbon emissions.
China's chief climate official said on Wednesday that China should not be subject to the same rules for greenhouse gas emissions as the United States and other rich countries, while the U.S. special envoy Todd Stern said Washington favors every country deciding what it is capable of doing, instead of being classified either as a developed country or a developing country.
The difference aside, the two sides announced eight projects to improve fuel efficiency and other standards on Wednesday.
Secretary of State John Kerry and other U.S. officials are in Beijing for two days of high-level bilateral talks.
China says it's up to US to drive global economy
BEIJING (AP) — China's finance minister says that the country is not planning any new stimulus measures and it is up to the United States to drive the global economy.
Lou Jiwei said Wednesday that leaders are satisfied with the country's economic performance so far this year and said in the first five months China had created up to 6 million jobs.
Analysts say the ruling party appears willing to accept economic growth below its 7.5 percent target this year so long as the rate of creation of new jobs stays high enough to avoid political tensions.
Lou said China is emphasizing structural reforms to spur economic growth and is unlikely to repeat the kind of massive economic stimulus it did in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis.
Greece to test bond market again with new issue
ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece says it will issue a three-year bond following its successful bid to tap debt markets in April after a four-year absence.
A finance ministry statement Wednesday said the bond "is expected to be launched and priced in the near future, subject to market conditions."
Bailed-out Greece regained bond market access in April, four years after it was saved from bankruptcy by an international bailout. The five-year issue raised 3 billion euros ($4.14 billion) with a 4.75 percent coupon.
UK enhances airport security measures
LONDON (AP) — Britain is imposing enhanced security measures will authorize security staff to require any airline traveler — not just those bound for the United States — to power on electronic devices to guard against hidden explosives.
Travelers going to and from Britain on Wednesday faced the new rules.
Travelers from France to the United States began undergoing checks Tuesday and the national airport security agency says the security measures were expected to last through the summer.
Germany says travelers to the United States should expect checks, but did not specify when they would start.
American intelligence officials are worried about new al-Qaida efforts to produce a bomb. Powering up computers or phones allows screeners to see that they are working and that explosives have not been substituted for batteries.
AMUSEMENT PARK BOSS
Theme park CEO says job is about making memories
SANDUSKY, Ohio (AP) — The head of one of the nation's biggest amusement park chains says roller coasters that go higher and faster aren't the only ways to keep crowds coming back.
Cedar Fair Entertainment's Matt Ouimet (WEE'-meht) has spent his first two years on the job making sure the company's 11 theme parks across the country have plenty of attractions for all ages.
New additions include shows featuring acrobats, strolling bands and shady spots to munch on treats.
Cedar Fair's amusement parks include Knott's Berry Farm near Los Angeles, Canada's Wonderland outside Toronto and Cedar Point along Lake Erie in Ohio.
Ouimet says theme parks need more rides that parents want to ride with their children. He's also putting an emphasis on using technology to make rides more interactive and memorable for everyone.