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    Fed nods to firmer prices yet still focused on labor weakness
    U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Yellen testifies before the Senate Banking Committee on Capitol Hill in WashingtonBy Michael Flaherty and Jason Lange WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Federal Reserve on Wednesday reaffirmed it was in no rush to raise interest rates, even as it upgraded its assessment of the U.S. economy and expressed some comfort that inflation was moving up toward its target. After a two-day meeting, Fed policymakers took note of both faster economic growth and a decline in the unemployment rate, but expressed concern about remaining slack in the labor market. "Labor market conditions improved, with the unemployment rate declining further," the Fed said in a statement. "However, a range of labor market indicators suggests that there remains significant underutilization of labor resources." The reference confirmed that the central bank believes there is still a ways to go before benchmark borrowing costs need to move higher despite an improving outlook for jobs and prices.
    Argentina fails to reach debt agreement, default imminent
    Argentina's Economy Minister Kicillof arrives at the office of a court-appointed mediator in New YorkBy Richard Lough, Eliana Raszewski and Daniel Bases BUENOS AIRES/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Argentina faces its second default in more than 12 years after talks with holdout creditors failed on Wednesday. The country's economy minister, Axel Kicillof, speaking at a news conference at the Argentine consulate in New York, repeatedly referred to the holdout hedge funds as "vultures" after two days of talks failed to produce an agreement. A last-ditch plan for Argentine commercial banks to buy out the non-performing debt held by hedge funds and avert a default collapsed on Wednesday, a senior banking executive and a second source from the financial market said. "Unfortunately, no agreement was reached and the Republic of Argentina will imminently be in default," Daniel Pollack, the court-appointed mediator in the case, said in a statement on Wednesday evening.
    U.S. economy back on track with strong second-quarter rebound
    A carpenter works on a new home at a residential construction site in the west side of the Las Vegas Valley in Las VegasBy Lucia Mutikani WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. economy rebounded sharply in the second quarter as consumers stepped up spending and businesses restocked, putting it on course to close out the year on solid footing. Gross domestic product expanded at a 4.0 percent annual rate after shrinking at a revised 2.1 percent pace in the first quarter, the Commerce Department said on Wednesday.
    Apple to lay off about 200 people at Beats: Bloomberg
    A pedestrian walks past a Beats brand display in the subway system of New York(Reuters) - Apple Inc intends to lay off about 200 people at Beats Electronics LLC following its $3 billion acquisition of the headphone and music streaming services company, Bloomberg cited a person with knowledge of the restructuring as saying. The job cuts will mainly hit human resources, finance and other departments with significant overlap between the two, the news agency reported. ...
    Bank of America ordered to pay $1.27 billion for 'Hustle' fraud
    A Bank of America Merrill Lynch sign is seen on a building that houses its offices in SingaporeBy Jonathan Stempel NEW YORK (Reuters) - A federal judge on Wednesday ordered Bank of America Corp to pay a $1.27 billion penalty for fraud over shoddy mortgages sold by the former Countrywide Financial Corp. U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan ruled after a jury last October found the second-largest U.S. bank liable for the sale by Countrywide of defective loans to government-controlled mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Rakoff also ordered former mid-level Countrywide executive Rebecca Mairone, who was also found liable and was the only individual charged, to pay $1 million, citing her "leading role" in the fraud and calling some of her testimony "implausible." While the bank's penalty was below the $2.1 billion sought by the U.S. Department of Justice, it marks another legal defeat for Bank of America over its disastrous July 2008 purchase of Countrywide, which has cost tens of billions of dollars in litigation, loan buybacks and writedowns. Bank of America has also held talks on another, potentially multi-billion-dollar settlement to resolve separate government probes into mortgage securities, including from Countrywide and its Merrill Lynch unit.
    Exclusive: Cuomo intervened in BNP deal to get $1 billion more for NY state fund
    BNP Paribas logo is pictured on the building of the bank in GenevaOnly days before U.S. authorities reached a landmark $8.97 billion settlement with BNP Paribas over the bank’s dealings with countries subject to U.S. sanctions, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo intervened to ensure the state government got a much bigger share of the proceeds, according to three people familiar with the situation.     One of these people said Cuomo called Cyrus Vance, the Manhattan District Attorney, on June 27 to seek a big chunk of the $2.2 billion that was going to be available to Vance to tap for law enforcement projects.     Vance eventually agreed that $1.05 billion of the $2.2 billion would go into the state’s coffers because otherwise the whole deal could be jeopardized, this person said. The settlement was announced on Monday, June 30, after last-minute negotiations over the preceding weekend.     The state’s general fund was already set to receive $2.24 billion from a state regulator’s piece of the settlement, and the eleventh-hour deal pushed the state’s take up to $3.29 billion. That change was contained in a side agreement signed by Vance on June 29, and a lawyer for Cuomo on June 30.     The years-long negotiations with BNP – and the tussle over the proceeds – were complex.
    S&P 500, Nasdaq end up as Fed in no rush to raise rates
    The Twitter symbol is displayed at the post where the stock is traded on the floor of the New York Stock ExchangeBy Caroline Valetkevitch NEW YORK (Reuters) - The S&P 500 and Nasdaq ended higher on Wednesday after the Federal Reserve gave a rosier assessment of the U.S. economy while reaffirming that it is in no hurry to raise interest rates. Among the biggest positives were bank shares, with the S&P financial index up 0.4 percent, helping to support the S&P 500. Biotechnology stocks boosted the Nasdaq for a second straight day. The Nasdaq biotech index was up 1 percent after Amgen Inc posted better-than-expected earnings and raised its outlook, sending its shares up 5.4 percent to $130.01.
    European regulators training sights on Google's mobile software
    File photo of Google Chairman Eric Schmidt speaking at a Motorola phone launch event in New YorkBy Foo Yun Chee and Alexei Oreskovic BRUSSELS/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - European regulators are preparing what could be a stern challenge to Google Inc's mobile software business in the coming months after a nearly four-year investigation into the company's Web search practices left rivals and European politicians dissatisfied. Two sources with direct knowledge of the matter said that with a new antitrust chief taking over in November, European regulators are laying the groundwork for a case centered on whether Google abuses the 80 percent market share of its Android mobile operating system to promote services from maps to search. The Commission has stepped up inquiries just in recent weeks, sending companies questionnaires that seek far more details than previous queries on the matter in 2011 and 2013. In one questionnaire seen by Reuters, respondents were asked whether there was a requirement set by Google, written or unwritten, that they not pre-install apps, products or services on mobile devices that compete with Google software like its search engine, app store and maps.
    Exclusive: Cuomo intervened in BNP deal to get $1 billion more for NY state fund
    BNP Paribas logo is pictured on the building of the bank in GenevaOnly days before U.S. authorities reached a landmark $8.97 billion settlement with BNP Paribas over the bank’s dealings with countries subject to U.S. sanctions, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo intervened to ensure the state government got a much bigger share of the proceeds, according to three people familiar with the situation.     One of these people said Cuomo called Cyrus Vance, the Manhattan District Attorney, on June 27 to seek a big chunk of the $2.2 billion that was going to be available to Vance to tap for law enforcement projects.     Vance eventually agreed that $1.05 billion of the $2.2 billion would go into the state’s coffers because otherwise the whole deal could be jeopardized, this person said. The settlement was announced on Monday, June 30, after last-minute negotiations over the preceding weekend.     The state’s general fund was already set to receive $2.24 billion from a state regulator’s piece of the settlement, and the eleventh-hour deal pushed the state’s take up to $3.29 billion. That change was contained in a side agreement signed by Vance on June 29, and a lawyer for Cuomo on June 30.     The years-long negotiations with BNP – and the tussle over the proceeds – were complex.
    Yum Brands says China sales hit by food scandal
    A man walks out of the entrance of Husi Food factory in Shanghai(Reuters) - Yum Brands Inc said reports of improper food handling by Chinese supplier Shanghai Husi has had a "significant, negative impact" on same-store sales at its KFC and Pizza Hut outlets in China over the past 10 days. Yelp's shares fell 6.5 percent in extended trading. "If the significant sales impact is sustained, it will have a material effect on full-year earnings per share," the company said in a regulatory filing. (Reporting by Sruthi Ramakrishnan in Bangalore; Editing by Don Sebastian)
    S&P cuts Argentina's credit rating further as talks drag on
    A view shows the Standard & Poor's building in New York's financial district(Reuters) - Standard & Poor's on Wednesday cut its credit rating on Argentina's foreign-currency sovereign debt to "selective default" even as talks between officials from Latin America's No. 3 economy and a group of holdout creditors continued in New York. S&P said that in its opinion, Argentina has now failed to make a $539 million payment due on its discount bonds due in 2033. Argentina has exhausted all legal options to avoid payment. The default rating will remain until Argentina makes a payment on the discount bonds, S&P said.
    Chrysler recalls Fiat 500L on knee air bag issue
    The new Fiat 500L car is seen during its official presentation in downtown TurinChrysler Group LLC will recall about 29,500 Fiat 500L compact cars because knee air bags may not work properly if a driver is not wearing a seat belt, the company said on Wednesday. Testing by Chrysler and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration showed that the driver's knee air bag may not deploy in the proper position to protect fully the knees of an unbelted driver, a company spokesman said. Chrysler, a unit of Fiat SpA , said it is not aware of any injuries related to the issue. The recall will affect Fiat 500L cars from the 2014 and 2015 model years.

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