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Associated Press

Posted on June 19, 2013 at 3:30 PM

Business News at 5:30 p.m.

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— Adds: APPLE-IPADS FOR SCHOOL, AIRLINE MERGER-GAO

— Updates: FEDERAL RESERVE, WALL STREET, OIL PRICES, FARM BILL

TOP STORIES:

FEDERAL RESERVE

WASHINGTON —Chairman Ben Bernanke ends weeks of speculation by saying the Federal Reserve will likely slow its bond-buying program later this year and end it next year if the economy continues to improve. The Fed's bond purchases have helped keep long-term interest rates at record lows. A pullback in the Fed's purchases would likely lead to higher rates on mortgages and other consumer and business loans. By Economics Writer Martin Crutsinger.

AP photos.

With:

— FED FORECASTS — The Federal Reserve's latest quarterly forecasts for short-term interest rates, unemployment and economic growth.

— BERNANKE-FUTURE — Bernanke declines to address his future at the Fed, says he wants focus to be on policy.

WALL STREET

NEW YORK — Financial markets shudder after the Federal Reserve says it could start scaling back its huge bond-buying program later this year and end it by the middle of 2014. The reaction by investors — the Dow Jones industrial average fell more than 200 points and the yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to its highest in 15 months — show just how much investors have come to depend on the Fed's easy money policies that have helped send the stock market up 140 percent in the past four years. By Markets Writer Steve Rothwell.

AP photos.

HEALTH OVERHAUL

WASHINGTON — There's no guarantee that President Barack Obama's health care law will launch smoothly and on time, congressional investigators say in the first in-depth independent look at its progress. But a report by the congressional Government Accountability Office also sees positive signs as the Oct. 1 deadline approaches for new health insurance markets called exchanges to open in each state — in many cases over the objections of Republican governors. By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar.

Also:

ON THE MONEY-KNOW THE OVERHAUL

Still a little hazy about the health care overhaul? You have plenty of company. About half the respondents surveyed earlier this spring by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation felt they didn't have enough information to understand how the law will affect their family. With those results in mind, here are five key points everyone should know about the overhaul, heading into this fall and 2014, when major parts of it unfold. By Business Writer Tom Murphy.

MEN'S WEARHOUSE-EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN

NEW YORK — Men's Wearhouse Inc. doesn't like the way its founder looks anymore. In terse announcement, Men's Wearhouse says it fired the face of the company and its executive chairman, George Zimmer, who appeared in many of its TV commercials with the slogan "You're going to like the way you look. I guarantee it." Zimmer, who started the company with a single store that had a cigar box in place of a cash register, says he was ousted because he didn't agree on where the company should be headed. By Retail Writer Anne D'Innocenzio.

AP photo.

CAR QUALITY

DETROIT — A survey of new car owners suggests that overall quality is falling because of glitches with new technology, like navigation and voice-recognition systems. Porsche and GMC owners reported the fewest problems with their 2013 models in the first 90 days of ownership. The Scion and Fiat brands ranked at the bottom of the annual survey from research firm J.D. Power. By Auto Writer Dee-Ann Durbin.

AP photos, video.

With:

— CAR QUALITY-BRANDS — Brand rankings in 2013 quality survey.

— CAR QUALITY-TOP MODELS — Top performing models in 2013 auto quality survey.

SMALLBIZ-SMALL TALK

NEW YORK — A growing number of small businesses are turning to exporting to build their sales, reversing a downturn that began with the recession. Companies that are already exporting are seeing more demand for their goods, from clothing to blankets to crop dusting planes. And small businesses that have never exported are considering testing the international waters. The potential for new revenue makes it worth their while to deal with the complexities of exporting, including logistics and complying with the varying regulations of overseas markets. By Business Writer Joyce M. Rosenberg.

AP photo.

With:

— SMALLBIZ-EXPORT TIPS — Tips for getting into exporting.

— SMALLBIZ-EXPORT RESOURCES — Websites with information on getting into exporting.

FRANCE AIR SHOW DRONES

LE BOURGET, France — Unmanned aircraft have helped rescue stranded hikers, worked to contain wildfires and gathered data at nuclear accidents. One helped a Russian tanker find its way through Arctic ice to bring oil to a stranded Alaskan community. But before these remote-controlled planes can be used more widely, they have to get over their image problem: They're also known as drones. The aerospace industry is pushing governments to come up with new rules so that the public can be comfortable with drones flying overhead performing everyday, mundane tasks. By Sarah DiLorenzo.

AP photos.

With:

— FRANCE-AIR SHOW — Air France-KLM ordered 25 Airbus A350 jets, saying the wide-body plane that flew for the first time last week will be central to its plan to expand long-haul flights after years of struggling against discount carriers in Europe. The deal is worth around $7.2 billion at list prices but customers can negotiate steep discounts. AP photos

MARKETS & ECONOMY:

FARM BILL

WASHINGTON — House passage of a massive farm bill could turn on the level of food stamp cuts as key backers scramble to secure support for the five-year, half-trillion dollar measure. By Mary Clare Jalonick.

IRS BONUSES

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service is about to pay $70 million in employee bonuses despite an Obama administration directive to cancel discretionary bonuses because of automatic spending cuts enacted this year, according to a GOP senator. By Stephen Ohlemacher.

AP photos.

— OIL PRICES —The price of oil falls slightly as the Federal Reserve indicates it's closer to easing up on economy boosting measures that have been a boon for commodities.

.

MORTGAGE SETTLEMENT

WASHINGTON — A new report says homeowners trying to avoid foreclosure must wait too long for their loan modification applications to be reviewed by some of the nation's top mortgage servicers. Such delays can plunge borrowers deeper in debt. By Andrew Miga.

INDUSTRY:

AIRLINE MERGER-GAO

DALLAS — A government analyst says the merger of American Airlines and US Airways would reduce competition on more than 1,600 routes traveled by more than 53 million passengers. By Airlines Writer David Koenig.

— ITALY-DOLCE&GABBANA — An Italian court convicts the designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana of tax evasion, saying they failed to declare $1.3 billion in income. The court sentenced them both to one year and eight months in jail.

EARNS-FEDEX

DALLAS — FedEx's quarter profit is down 45 percent from a year ago as customers trade down to less-expensive delivery options and the package delivery company restructures some parts of its business. By Business Writer David Koenig.

AP photo.

BRITAIN-BANKING STANDARDS

LONDON — British bankers could soon be facing harsher penalties for behaving badly. After a year which has seen major scandals involving rate-rigging, money-laundering and rogue-trading rock the UK's financial industry, an influential parliamentary committee recommended that senior bankers should be held more accountable for their bank's actions, including a new criminal offense of "reckless misconduct" — one that could carry a prison sentence. By Danica Kirka.

MINE SAFETY

JULIAN, W.Va. — Orange flames lick at the roof of the coal mine, heat building and visibility dropping as smoke begins to fill the underground passageway. Then, with the push of a few buttons on a hand-held remote, the flames flicker out, the smoke dissipates and the lights come on. The roar of fire is replaced by the trickle of nearby water. By Vicki Smith

AP photos.

— PRESCRIPTIONS-MEDICAL SAVINGS — If doctors and patients used prescription drugs more wisely, they could save the U.S. health care system at least $213 billion a year, by reducing medication overuse, underuse and other flaws in care that cause complications and longer, more-expensive treatments, researchers conclude.

— EU-GENERIC MEDICINE — The European Union fined Danish pharmaceuticals multinational Lundbeck and several other producers a combined 146 million euros ($195 million) for delaying the market entry of cheaper generic alternatives to a major antidepressant to capitalize profit at the expense of patients.

— BLUEBIRD BIO-IPO — Shares of gene therapy developer Bluebird Bio Inc. are surging in their trading debut.

— UNITED TECHNOLOGIES-FRAUD ALLEGATIONS — A federal court order that United Technologies Corp. pay $473 million plus interest to compensate for alleged fraud in its sale of fighter jet engines could cut into revenue and profit, the aerospace giant says.

— CHINA-WANDA-SUNSEEKER— Chinese property and cinema conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group is buying British yacht maker Sunseeker and will develop a high-end London hotel, expanding into the luxury market as part of the latest foray abroad by a major Chinese firm.

— SWEDEN-EARNS-H&M — Swedish fashion retailer Hennes & Mauritz AB says profits fell by 11 percent in the second quarter due to the strong Swedish krona and increased markdowns as it tried to shift its products.

TECHNOLOGY & MEDIA:

WIKILEAKS-EMBASSY ANNIVERSARY

LONDON — A year ago, Julian Assange skipped out on a date with Swedish justice. Rather than comply with a British order that he go to the Scandinavian country for questioning about sex crimes allegations, the WikiLeaks founder took refuge in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London. He's still there — and now says he won't emerge even if Sweden drops the case that triggered the strange diplomatic standoff. By Jill Lawless.

AP photos.

TECH TEST-DIGITAL LIFE-GOOGLE READER ALTERNATIVES

NEW YORK — On July 1, we say goodbye to Google Reader, a handy tool for bringing headlines and articles from your favorite websites into a single place. I spent a lot of time curating Reader, and I didn't want to see it simply die. Fortunately, there's an afterlife. Google has made it easy to move your list of sites you follow, known as feeds, to another service. And many of those rival services have made it easy to accept those feeds. One in particular, Feedly, stands out. By Technology Writer Anick Jesdanun.

AP PHONE RECORDS-PRUITT

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department violated its own rules when it secretly seized records for thousands of phone calls to and from journalists for The Associated Press as part of a leak investigation, the head of the company says. By Jennifer C. Kerr.

AP photo.

APPLE-IPADS FOR SCHOOL

NEW YORK — Los Angeles' school system, the second largest in the United States, is ordering iPads for all its students, handing Apple a major success in its quest to make the tablet computer a replacement for textbooks. By Technology Writer Peter Svensson.

THEATER-Q&A-JIM MCCARTHY

NEW YORK — Jim McCarthy doesn't just think it's fun to go out and see a play or a comedy show or a basketball game. He thinks it actually makes you a better person. "It drives the dullness out of your life and stirs your personal creativity," says the CEO of ticket discounter Goldstar. "I think it actually makes you a more interesting person." Goldstar, a sort of Priceline.com for live events, finds unused tickets to everything from wine tastings to circuses and sells them discounted to its 4 million subscribers from Boston to Seattle. By Mark Kennedy.

AP photo.

JAPAN-INTERNET GAFFES

TOKYO — Social media is a new thing for Japanese politicians, and it shows. In just the few months that Japan has allowed the use of social media for political campaigns, the unfiltered comments of several officials have cost them face, party positions and even their jobs. In the latest flap, the official in charge of helping victims of the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear crisis was dismissed after he used a vulgarity online to describe civil activists. By Mari Yamaguchi.

AP photos.

— FRANCE-ALCATEL-LUCENT — Troubled telecommunications equipment manufacturer Alcatel-Lucent is launching a major effort to boost its fortunes by shedding assets and implementing deep cost cuts.

— NETFLIX-NETHERLANDS — Netflix is going Dutch. The online video giant says it will expand into the Netherlands, its 41st country, later this year.

INTERNATIONAL:

GERMANY-OBAMA

BERLIN — U.S. President Barack Obama meets German Chancellor Angela Merkel for talks on trade and Syria before making a speech in front of Berlin's Brandenburg Gate.

Also:

— EUROPE-FINANCIAL CRISIS-OBAMA — President Barack Obama is suggesting Europe may need to adjust its economic policies to tackle high youth unemployment. AP photo.

WORLD BANK-CLIMATE

STOCKHOLM — The World Bank says it will increasingly view its efforts to help developing countries fight poverty through a "climate lens." The international lending institution warned that heat waves, rising seas, more severe storms and other impacts of climate change will trap millions of people in poverty.

— CHINA-GM— General Motors Co. executives broke ground for a new Cadillac factory in China to target luxury buyers in the world's biggest auto market, though they said the segment would grow slower than expected this year

— JAPAN-TRADE — Japan's trade deficit rose nearly 10 percent in May to 993.9 billion yen (nearly $10.5 billion), highlighting the challenge Prime Minister Shinzo Abe faces in revitalizing manufacturing as industries increasingly shift production offshore. AP photos.

— JAPAN-NUCLEAR— Japan's nuclear watchdog has formally approved new safety requirements for atomic plants, paving the way for the reopening of facilities shut down since the Fukushima disaster. AP photos.

— MALAYSIA-BUDGET AIRPORT— The opening of a new airport to accommodate budget carriers has been delayed until next year because of design changes and other construction setbacks.

— THAILAND-RICE — Thailand will pay farmers 20 percent less for rice to stem losses from a much-criticized subsidy program that dislodged the country from its spot as the world's No. 1 exporter of the grain.

— GREECE-STATE BROADCASTER —Greece's governing coalition parties meet for a second time in three days to try and end a political crisis triggered by the closure of state broadcaster ERT. AP photo.

— ITALY-FINMECCANICA TRIAL — The former head of Italian aerospace and defense giant Finmeccanica , accused by prosecutors of making bribery part of the company culture, went on trial for his alleged role in the payment of bribes to secure a crucial 560 million euro ($670 million) helicopter contract in India.

— SPAIN-FINANCIAL CRISIS — Spain faces the prospect of high unemployment and sluggish growth lasting years unless the country and Europe take "urgent action" to slash the nation's crippling 27 unemployment rate and free frozen credit to businesses so they can expand, the International Monetary Fund said. AP photo.

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CENTERPIECE

Big ups and downs

The Dow Jones industrial average posted triple-digits gains or losses for six straight sessions as investors waited for guidance from the Federal Reserve on Wednesday.

COMPANY SPOTLIGHT

Dish scraps Sprint bid

Dish Network said Tuesday it will not submit a revised bid for Sprint Nextel. That leaves the path open for the wireless carrier to accept what it considers a superior offer from Japan's Softbank.

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