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Posted: Thursday, July 10, 2014 3:30 am

WALL STREET

Alcoa helps lift market after 2 days of declines

NEW YORK (AP) — Corporate earnings season is off to a positive start, helping lift the stock market Wednesday after two days of declines.

The market opened higher and remained modestly higher throughout the day. Stocks climbed further after the Federal Reserve released minutes from its latest policy meeting in June.

The biggest gainer in the S&P 500 was Alcoa. The aluminum giant's earnings, which investors consider to be the official start of the quarterly corporate earnings season, came in well above Wall Street's expectations. Alcoa earned $138 million, or 18 cents a share, compared with analysts' estimates of 12 cents a share, according to FactSet. Alcoa rose 84 cents, or 6 percent, to $15.69.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 78.99 points, or 0.5 percent, to 16,985.61. The S&P 500 index rose 9.12 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,972.83 and the Nasdaq composite rose 27.57 points, or 0.6 percent, to 4,419.03.

FED MINUTES

Fed split on signals for first rate increase

WASHINGTON (AP) — Minutes of the Federal Reserve's June policy meetings sho officials had differing views on the best way to signal to financial markets when they might raise a key short-term interest rate. They were in broad agreement, however, that they will likely announce an end to their monthly bond buying program in October.

Minutes of the Fed's June 17-18 meeting released Wednesday showed officials split between those who wanted to communicate that the Fed remains concerned that inflation is rising too slowly and those who were worried that the economy might rebound faster than currently expected.

In the end, the Fed statement stuck to the current guidance that rates will likely remain low for a "considerable time" after the bond purchases end.

DAY AHEAD

Jobless benefits, wholesale stockpiles and mortgage rates

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Labor Department issues its report this morning on the number of people who applied for unemployment benefits last week. In the previous week, the number edged up slightly but remained at a level consistent with a healthy labor market.

The Commerce Department issues its May report on wholesale stockpiles. In April, U.S. wholesale businesses built up their stockpiles of goods, a sign that companies expect stronger economic growth in the coming months.

Freddie Mac reports on average U.S. mortgage rates for this week. Last week, the average for the 30-year loan eased to 4.12 percent from 4.14 percent the previous week.

WORLD MARKETS

Asian stocks gain after China's export growth, Fed minutes; Indonesia up after election

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Asian stock markets are mostly higher in Thursday trading after China's exports showed a slight pickup.

China's customs office says June exports grew 7.2 percent in dollar terms from a year earlier, accelerating slightly from May's 7 percent growth. The growth is a small sign of improvement for the world's No. 2 economy. Concerns remain about China's uneven recovery as imports remained lackluster in a sign of weak domestic demand.

South Korea's Kospi and Hong Kong's Hang Seng are up 0.2 percent while China's Shanghai Composite and indexes in Australia, Singapore and Thailand have also gained ground.

Japan is going against the current, however, with Tokyo's Nikkei down 0.4 percent after May machinery orders fell more than expected.

In Indonesia, the benchmark stock index surged 2 percent after the unofficial results of the country's presidential election showed a narrow victory for Joko Widodo. Despite his rival's refusal to concede, investors seemed to think the result was clear cut and are welcoming Widodo as a possible reformer.

OIL PRICES

Oil on 2-week slide even with Mideast turmoil

NEW YORK (AP) — The price of oil has fallen for nine straight days as global supplies continue to flow despite unrest in the world's most important oil-producing region.

The prolonged drop could lead to lower gasoline prices for U.S. drivers in the weeks ahead.

In the Middle East, the insurgency in Iraq is far from resolved, but hasn't halted oil exports. The fighting now seems unlikely to spread to Iraq's major oil fields. Tensions between Israel and Hamas have escalated in the past week, but aren't threatening any major oil production.

On the supply side, Libyan crude exports appear poised to surge after an agreement between the government and local militias cleared the way for export terminals to open. And U.S. production continues to soar.

In Thursday trading, benchmark U.S. crude for August delivery was down 44 cents at $101.85 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $1.11 to close at $102.29 on Wednesday.

AIRLINES-OUTLOOK

Airlines give upbeat view of revenue trends

UNDATED (AP) — Three of the biggest U.S. airlines are giving upbeat signals about their business as the peak summer travel season kicks into high gear.

American, United and Southwest indicated that a key revenue figure was higher than in the same period last year, and American also raised its forecast for profit margin in the second quarter.

Shares of airline stocks rose.

Since a series of big mergers that started in 2008, airlines have kept a lid on flights, which helps keeps fares high enough to overcome higher fuel prices. Of the four biggest U.S. airline companies, only United lost money in the first quarter, and analysts expect all of them to be in the black for the April-to-June quarter.

PC SHIPMENTS

PC shipment slump bottoms out

NEW YORK (AP) — A two-year slump in personal computer sales ended in the second quarter, helped by improving demand in developed markets like North America and Europe.

PC sales have fallen in recent years, hurt by surging demand for tablets and other mobile devices. Tough economic conditions around the world have also disrupted sales. But quarterly figures released Wednesday by the research firms Gartner Inc. and International Data Corp. show the global slump is easing.

AMERICAN APPAREL-DEAL

American Apparel to receive financing

NEW YORK (AP) — American Apparel says it has reached a deal with investment firm Standard General to receive an investment of up to $25 million to bolster the clothing chain's finances. It will also mean a shake-up in the board.

The deal will help pay off a $10 million loan from investment firm Lion Capital, which made a formal demand for payment Monday. Lion Capital claimed that the chain defaulted under its credit agreement because it ousted its founder and CEO Dov Charney.

As part of the shake-up of the board, five of its seven members including Charney will voluntarily step down.

ECONOMIC ESPIONAGE-SENTENCING

California man faces prison for economic espionage

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — A Northern California chemical engineer is facing more than 20 years in prison when he is sentenced for a rare economic-espionage conviction.

Federal prosecutors are demanding a sentence of up to 22 years for Walter Liew when he appears in federal court in Oakland on Thursday. A jury convicted the 56-year-old chemical engineer of economic espionage, obstruction of justice and other charges related to the sale of stolen DuPont Co. technology for making white pigment to the Chinese government. The pigment is used to make cars, paper and a long list of everyday items whiter.

Liew's lawyers are seeking a prison sentence of about five years.

The U.S. Probation Department is recommending a sentence of 14 years.

TRADE SECRETS SETTLEMENT

Korean firm to pay $2M to settle case in Virginia

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A South Korean chemical company has agreed to pay $2 million to settle a criminal complaint alleging attempted theft of a competitor's trade secrets.

The complaint against Toray Chemical Korea Inc. was filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Richmond. In an accompanying deferred prosecution agreement, Toray admits the allegations are true and agrees to pay the penalty and take corrective actions. The government agrees to drop the case after two years if Toray complies with the agreement.

According to court papers, Toray sought to develop a fiber used in protective fabrics, electrical insulation and other products that is similar to a fiber manufactured by E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company. Toray hired or tried to hire as consultants former DuPont employees to obtain information about the DuPont product.

FRANCE-BANK-PROSECUTION

Bank BNP Paribas pleads guilty to violating rules

NEW YORK (AP) — BNP Paribas, France's largest bank, has pleaded guilty in New York to a federal charge of violating U.S. economic sanctions by processing transactions for clients in blacklisted countries.

The plea was entered Wednesday. It comes a week after lawyers for the bank pleaded guilty to similar charges in state court.

The bank has agreed to pay nearly $9 billion. It admits processing billions of dollars in illegal transactions on behalf of clients in Sudan, Cuba and Iran. The bank admitting violating U.S. trade sanctions imposed to block the participation of some countries in the global financial system.

Prosecutors say the transactions were processed through a New York branch office from at least 2004 through 2012. Federal authorities say the roughly $8.9 billion deal is the largest sanctions case ever brought.

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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