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AP Financial News Summary at 10:33 a.m. EDT

August 23, 2006

Existing Home Sales Drop in July

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WASHINGTON (AP) _ Sales of previously owned homes plunged in July to the lowest level in 2 1/2 years and the inventory of unsold homes climbed to a new record high, fresh signs that the housing market has lost steam.

Stocks Fall on Weak Housing Numbers

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NEW YORK (AP) _ Wall Street fell for a third straight day Wednesday after a report of slumping home sales raised concerns that the economy has slowed too much.

Gateway Shares Up on Bid for Retail Ops

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IRVINE, Calif. (AP) _ Gateway Inc. has received an unsolicited offer from eMachines founder Lap Shun Hui to acquire the computer and printer maker’s retail operations for $450 million.

Oil Slips on Iran’s Offer for More Talks

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VIENNA, Austria (AP) _ Oil prices dropped Wednesday as traders locked in profits after Iran offered to continue negotiations on its nuclear program.

Smithfield 1Q Profit Drops

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SMITHFIELD, Va. (AP) _ Smithfield Foods Inc. said Wednesday its fiscal first-quarter profit dropped 50 percent, weighed down by costs related to the sale of a business and lower earnings from its industry-leading pork production operations.

Nestle Posts Rise in 1st-Half Profits

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VEVEY, Switzerland (AP) _ Nestle SA, the world’s biggest food and drink company, reported an 11 percent rise in first-half net profit Wednesday thanks to cost cutting and internal growth and despite higher raw material prices.

Indian States Reiterate Coke, Pepsi Ban

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NEW DELHI, India (AP) _ Several Indian states on Wednesday insisted they would continue to ban the sale of Coca-Cola and PepsiCo soft drinks even though the federal Health Ministry dismissed allegations that the beverages contained pesticide residues.

BHP Billiton Says Profit Surged 63 Pct.

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) _ Anglo-Australian mining giant BHP Billiton Ltd. on Wednesday said its annual net profit surged 63 percent, setting a new Australian corporate earnings record thanks to soaring metal prices and insatiable demand from China.

U.S., ASEAN to Ink Greater Trade Pact

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KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) _ The United States will sign an agreement this week with the 10-member ASEAN bloc to allow more trade access to Southeast Asia while ensuring that U.S. intellectual property is better guarded in a region infamous for violations, according to a draft text.

NextWave Telecommunications Inc. Returns

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WASHINGTON (AP) _ The last time a company run by Allen B. Salmasi was a top bidder in a government airwaves auction, it took eight years and the Supreme Court to unravel the mess that followed.

Oil Lures West to Troubled Myanmar

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BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) _ Governments both East and West are often critical of Myanmar’s human rights abuses, but the country’s energy production is rising, and nations are quietly doing lucrative business with its junta leaders.

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