Business Highlights

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 29, 2014 at 5:03 pm •  Published: July 29, 2014
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US, Europe impose tough new sanctions on Russia

WASHINGTON (AP) — Spurred to action by the downing of the Malaysian airliner, the European Union approved dramatically tougher economic sanctions Tuesday against Russia, including an arms embargo and restrictions on state-owned banks. President Barack Obama swiftly followed with an expansion of U.S. penalties targeting key sectors of the Russian economy.

The coordinated sanctions were aimed at increasing pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin to end his country's support for separatists in eastern Ukraine whom the West blames for taking down the passenger jet nearly two weeks ago. Obama and U.S. allies also warned that Russia was building up troops and weaponry along its border with Ukraine.

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Fed is weighing key issues but may reveal little

WASHINGTON (AP) — This much is clear: The Federal Reserve will make another cut this week in its monthly bond purchases, which have been aimed at keeping long-term loan rates low.

This much is not: When will the Fed start tightening its interest-rate policy to thwart any runaway inflation? How will it do so? And when will the Fed start paring its enormous $4 trillion-plus investment portfolio — a step that will put upward pressure on interest rates?

On those questions, expect no definitive signals Wednesday, when the Fed issues a statement after a two-day policy meeting. In many ways, the improving U.S. economy no longer needs so much help from the central bank: Hiring is solid, and unemployment is on the cusp of a nearly normal 6 percent rate. Manufacturing is strengthening. Consumers are voicing renewed confidence.

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US consumer confidence jumps to 90.9 in July

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. consumers are more confident about the economy than they have been in nearly seven years.

The Conference Board said Tuesday that its confidence index rose to 90.9 in July from an upwardly revised 86.4 in June. The July reading is the highest since October 2007, two months before the Great Recession officially began.

It was the third straight increase in the index. Economists said that strong job growth has helped boost consumers' assessment of current conditions and also improved their outlook on jobs and the economy.

Conference Board economist Lynn Franco said that the improvements in consumers' confidence and expectations about the future indicate that the recent strengthening in overall economic growth should continue in the second half of the year.

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US home price gains slow for 6th straight month

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. home prices rose in May from a year earlier at the weakest pace in 15 months as sales remain modest in the spring buying season.

The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index, released Tuesday, increased 9.3 percent in May from 12 months earlier. That's down from 10.8 percent in the previous month and the smallest annual gain since February 2013.

Yearly price gains slowed in 18 of the 20 cities. They accelerated in Charlotte, North Carolina, and were flat in Tampa, Florida.

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones Industrial average fell 70.48 points, or 0.4 percent, to 16,912.11. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 8.96 points, or 0.5 percent, to close at 1,969.95. The Nasdaq composite slipped 2.21 points, less than 0.1 percent, to 4,442.70.

Benchmark U.S. crude slipped 70 cents to $100.97 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, rose 15 cents to $107.72 on the ICE Futures exchange in London. Wholesale gasoline rose 2.2 cents to $2.87 a gallon. Natural gas rose 6.1 cents to $3.81 per 1,000 cubic feet. Heating oil added 1.9 cents to $2.91 a gallon.