Among the stories for Wednesday from The Associated Press:
WASHINGTON — The U.S. economy grew from April through June at a modest seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.7 percent, as businesses spent more and the federal government cut less. The Commerce Department said Wednesday that growth improved from a 1.1 percent rate in the January-March quarter. While growth remains sluggish, the pickup was surprising as most economists predicted a far weaker second quarter. And it suggests the economy could accelerate later this year as businesses step up spending and the drag from steep government cuts fade. By Christopher S. Rugaber.
— ECONOMY-GDP-REVISIONS — Revised U.S. data paint better picture of economy last year; broader trends little changed.
WASHINGTON — When the Federal Reserve offers its latest word on interest rates this week, few think it will telegraph the one thing investors have been most eager to know: When it will slow its bond purchases, which have kept long-term borrowing rates low. By Martin Crutsinger.
Eds: Statement expected around 2 p.m.
NEW YORK — Facebook’s stock price has passed its $38 IPO price for the first time since its rocky initial public offering more than a year ago.
BOARDING THE PLANE
Window, middle, aisle. Rear to front. Getting people onto a plane quickly matters more than you might think. Passengers want to board early to find space in the overhead bins for their rolling carry-on bags. For airlines, every minute that a plane sits at the gate makes it more likely that the flight will be late, hurting the carrier’s on-time rating and causing passengers to miss connecting flights. But the perfect boarding process remains elusive. Even an astrophysicist couldn’t figure it out. By David Koenig.
BEIJING — Huang Dongliang says his uncle was being ignored by his low-paid cancer physician at a Chinese government hospital. So the family gave the doctor a “hongbao,” the traditional red envelope used for gifts, with 3,000 yuan ($480). “We could feel an obvious difference” after that, said Huang. “The doctor started to do more checkups, to give suggestions and advice and offered a detailed chemotherapy plan.” Such informal payments are pervasive in China’s dysfunctional health system. Low salaries and skimpy budgets drive doctors, nurses and administrators to make ends meet by accepting money from patients, drug suppliers and others. Accusations this month that GlaxoSmithKline employees bribed Chinese doctors to prescribe its drugs brought international attention to the flow of illicit money. But to China’s public, the practice has long been common knowledge. By Joe McDonald.
NEW YORK — Uncle Sam isn’t as easy of a customer to land as he used to be. The cost that goes into going after a federal contract was already rising sharply before $85 billion in federal budget cuts went into effect this spring. Now that many cuts are in place, small business owners are finding that it’s harder and even more expensive to do business with the government than before. And in many cases, revenue that they used to rely on isn’t coming in, or it’s taking longer to materialize. By Business Writer Joyce M. Rosenberg.
— SMALLBIZ-CONTRACTING — A look at the state of small business contracting.
MARKETS & ECONOMY:
WASHINGTON — A deal that gives college students and their parents lower interest rates for loans is heading toward its final vote. By Philip Elliott.
— ECONOMY-JOBS — A private survey by payroll company ADP shows U.S. businesses created a healthy 200,000 jobs this month, the fastest pace since December.
— BUDGET BATTLE-DEFENSE — A second, deeper round of automatic federal budget cuts is on its way, and it’s going to hit the Pentagon hard.
NEW YORK — Steady growth in the U.S. economy and higher company earnings are pushing the stock market higher in early trading.
— OIL PRICES — Oil prices trade near $103 a barrel.
PARIS — European aerospace group EADS is to change its name to Airbus and shake up its corporate structure as part of push to give its civil aviation division more prominence. The company will also reshuffle its space and military units into one division. Its first-half profit rose 31 percent to $1 billion. By Greg Keller.
— EARNS-MASTERCARD — MasterCard, the payments processing company, reports a 19 percent increase in its second-quarter profit as its purchase volumes increase.
— EARNS-WHOLE FOODS MARKET — Whole Foods Market reports quarterly financial results after the market closes.
— EARNS-AB-INBEV — Budweiser maker Anheuser-Busch InBev’s second-quarter profit fallS by nearly a quarter due to higher taxes and financing costs.
— BRITAIN-EARNS-DIAGEO — Drinks company Diageo, behind the brands Johnnie Walker whiskey, Smirnoff vodka and Guinness stout, says rising spirits consumption in the U.S. helps its profit rise 28 percent to $3.79 billion.
— FRANCE-EARNS-BNP PARIBAS — BNP Paribas says its profit slipped nearly 5 percent in the second quarter as investment banking continued to suffer from the tough economic conditions in Europe.
— GERMANY-BAYER-EARNS — German drug and chemicals company Bayer says profit rose 75 percent in the second quarter thanks to lower one-time charges and strong sales of new anti-clotting and eye drugs.
FRANKFURT, Germany — German automaker Volkswagen says second-quarter profit fell 50 percent from last year, when earnings were boosted by a one-time gain related to its takeover of Porsche. Excluding that, earnings rise 2 percent, beating analyst estimates and indicating the company is holding its own in a difficult European auto market. It says it will still achieve its earnings goal for the year. By David McHugh
— JAPAN-EARNS-HONDA — Honda’s quarterly profit slips 7 percent, largely on financial expenses and other spending, although its auto sales increase outside of Japan.
— ITALY-FIAT-CHRYSLER — Italy’s Fiat says it remains confident that it will win its court challenge to determine how much it should pay to buy some outstanding shares of U.S. automaker Chrysler. A Delaware judge’s decision Tuesday to delay a decision on price pending further evidence is likely to delay Fiat’s push to buy all of the Chrysler stock it doesn’t own.
— FRANCE-EARNS-PEUGEOT CITROEN — PSA Peugeot Citroen says its losses mounted in the first half as Europe’s recession ate into car sales just as it attempts to battle back from last year’s record $6.6 billion loss.
— FORD-NATURAL GAS PICKUP — Ford soon will offer a natural gas version of its F-150 pickup truck, the most popular vehicle in America.
LONDON — France’s Schneider Electric is to buy industrial software firm Invensys for $5.2 billion. Schneider, which has 140,000 employees, has signaled plans to offload non-core divisions within Invensys, which develops technology for oil refineries and other sectors. Invensys has 1,100 employees in Britain and the United States.
— GERMANY-SIEMENS-CEO — Germany’s Siemens appoints longtime finance chief Joe Kaeser as CEO, replacing Peter Loescher. AP photo
— JAPAN-DELTA — The CEO of Delta Air Lines urges the Japanese government to open the country’s skies to greater competition from foreign airlines.
TECHNOLOGY & MEDIA:
ROUND ROCK, Texas — A Dell board committee is rejecting a voting rule change behind Michael Dell’s increased offer to buy out the struggling PC maker he founded.
NEW YORK — The decision by Comcast Corp., the country’s largest cable company, to buy General Electric out of the NBCUniversal business looks like a smart one, as the media conglomerate posted strong results for the second quarter. By Peter Svensson.
— EARNS-CBS — CBS reports financial results after the market close.
— EARNS-NINTENDO — Nintendo is making money again courtesy of a weaker yen but its business selling game machines is ailing, with sales of its flagship Wii U console still lackluster.
— EARNS-PANASONIC — Japanese consumer electronics giant Panasonic says its quarterly earnings surged more than eight-fold, helped by the weaker yen and a one-time boost from a change in its corporate pension scheme.
ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Kodak is providing a clearer picture of its post-reorganization management plans, saying that CEO Antonio Perez will likely be replaced in the first year after it emerges from bankruptcy protection.
— MICROSOFT-OFFICE FOR ANDROID — Microsoft is bringing a pared-down version of its Office software to Android phones, but it won’t work on Android tablets just as it doesn’t on iPads.
— NSA CHIEF-VEGAS — NSA chief to face skeptical, tech-savvy crowd at annual Black Hat hacker convention in Vegas. Eds: Speech scheduled for 9am PDT.
LONDON — Further evidence emerges that the eurozone economy is on the mend after struggling with a recession that’s seen unemployment edge toward the 20 million mark. The number of unemployed across the 17 European Union countries that use the euro fell by 24,000 in June to 19.27 million. That’s the first fall since April 2011 and adds to the weight of recent evidence that suggests the recession in the eurozone has — or is about to — come to an end. By Pan Pylas.
— GERMANY-ECONOMY — Germany’s unemployment rate rises to 6.8 percent in July due to seasonal factors such as the start of the summer holiday period, but the labor market in Europe’s biggest economy remains solid.
— GREECE-FINANCIAL CRISIS — The IMF says Greece has made “exceptional” progress in stabilizing its economy and remains on course to end its recession next year, despite missing targets for privatization and axing state jobs.
TEL AVIV, Israel — State-of-the-art TV studios above an ancient Mideast port signal Israel’s arrival in a modern media landscape in which countries increasingly seek to broadcast their own perspective to the world. The first international channel dedicated to reporting the news from an Israeli point of view, i24news, will broadcast in English, Arabic and French. By Aron Heller.
— THAILAND-OIL SPILL — An oil spill that has marred a tourist island in the Gulf of Thailand has spread to nearby smaller isles as authorities raced to clean up the island’s once-white sands and clear waters.
— PHILIPPINES-BLACKOUT — Electricity is restored to most of a Philippine province that was entirely cut off for more than 24 hours when the national power grid operator stopped its supply due to $93 million in unpaid bills.