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Associated Press

Posted on August 28, 2013 at 3:00 PM

Updated Thursday, Aug 29 at 10:01 AM

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Stocks edge higher as Syria, oil worries linger

NEW YORK (AP) — The stock market edged higher Wednesday as investors continued to focus on the likelihood of a U.S.-led attack on Syria. Energy stocks rose sharply as the price of oil increased to the highest in more than two years.

The quick rise in the price of oil has caused investors to worry. Costlier oil almost always translates into higher fuel expenses for businesses and consumers, weighing on consumer spending and the economy. While Syria produces little oil, a regional conflict in the Middle East could lead to supply disruptions in an area where half the world's proven oil reserves lie.

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Fast-food strikes set for cities nationwide

NEW YORK (AP) — Fast-food customers in search of burgers and fries on Thursday might run into striking workers instead.

Organizers say thousands of fast-food workers are set to stage walkouts in dozens of cities around the country, part of a push to get chains such as McDonald's, Taco Bell and Wendy's to pay workers higher wages.

It's expected be the largest nationwide strike by fast-food workers, according to organizers. The biggest effort so far was over the summer when about 2,200 of the nation's millions of fast-food workers staged a one-day strike in seven cities.

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Pending sales of US homes slip but remain solid

WASHINGTON (AP) — Fewer Americans signed contracts to buy U.S. homes in July, but the level stayed close to a 6 1/2-year high. The modest decline suggests higher mortgage rates have yet to sharply slow sales.

The National Association of Realtors says its seasonally adjusted index for pending home sales declined 1.3 percent to 109.5. That's close to May's reading of 111.3, which was the highest since December 2006.

The small decline suggests sales of previously owned homes should remain healthy in the coming months. There is generally a one- to two-month lag between a signed contract and a completed sale.

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New Zealand botulism scare likely a false alarm

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — A botulism scare that damaged New Zealand's international reputation for providing top quality and safe dairy products was likely a false alarm.

New Zealand government officials said Wednesday they had found no sign of botulism bacteria after retesting ingredients used in recalled milk products.

Dairy company Fonterra sparked a global recall of infant formula this month after announcing it had discovered the presence of botulism bacteria in some of its whey protein concentrate.

But New Zealand's Ministry of Primary Industries announced Wednesday that its own extensive retesting of the concentrate indicated the presence of another, less dangerous type of bacteria but not the botulism bacteria.

Officials said the bacteria they found poses no health risk but could spoil the product in high quantities.

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China announces recall of Honda SUVs

BEIJING (AP) — Honda's Chinese unit is recalling 408,000 sport utility vehicles to repair a defective shock absorber rod in a new setback in China for Japanese automakers.

Dongfeng Honda Automobile Co. will recall Siwei CR-V vehicles made between March 2, 2010 and Aug. 30, 2012, the Chinese government's product quality agency said Wednesday.

Honda will replace a front shock absorber piston rod that in extreme cases might fracture, causing safety problems, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine.

The recall is a setback for Honda Motor Co. as Japanese automakers try to rebuild market share they lost last year during tensions last year between Beijing and Tokyo over ownership of disputed islands in the South China Sea

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BoE's Carney takes his message to the public

LONDON (AP) — The Bank of England's new governor took his ideas for spurring Britain's sluggish economy on the road Wednesday, traveling to the heart of the country to convince households and managers that interest rates will remain low and that he won't follow the U.S. in reining in the bank's stimulus efforts just yet.

Mark Carney's main mission is to shore up the British economy, which has lagged behind competitors in rebounding from the worst global recession since the 1930s. While the U.S. economy has grown 5 percent over the past five years and China by more than 50 percent, the U.K. still produces 3 percent less than it did at the start of the recession.

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 48.38 points, or 0.3 percent, to close at 14,824.51. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 4.48 points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,634.96. The Nasdaq composite rose 14.83 points, or 0.4 percent, to 3,593.35.

Benchmark oil for October delivery rose $1.09, or 1 percent, to $110.10 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Heating oil added 5 cents to $3.21 per gallon. Natural gas rose 1 cents to $3.58 per 1,000 cubic feet. Wholesale gasoline rose 5 cents to $2.96 per gallon.

Brent crude, the benchmark for international crudes, was up $1.20 to $115.56 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

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