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AP Financial News Summary at 4:17 p.m. EDT

August 25, 2004

Reports Show a Mixed View of Economy

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WASHINGTON (AP) _ America’s factories saw orders for costly manufactured goods in July post the biggest gain in four months. New-homes sales, meanwhile, slid, according to a pair of reports that offered a mixed picture of economic activity.

Stocks Rally on Lower Oil Prices

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NEW YORK (AP) _ Stocks rallied in quiet trading Wednesday as lower oil prices brought out buyers, countering a pair of government reports that gave a mixed picture of the economy.

Oil Prices Sink Below $44 on Profit-Taking

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WASHINGTON (AP) _ Oil prices plummeted below $44 a barrel Thursday, sinking for the fourth consecutive day, as supply fears receded and profit-taking took over.

Home Depot Agrees to Settle Bias Claims

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ATLANTA (AP) _ The Home Depot Inc., the nation’s largest home improvement store chain, has agreed to settle discrimination claims brought by workers at some of its stores in Colorado for $5.5 million, the company said Wednesday.

Justice Dept. Cracks Down Internet Crime

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WASHINGTON (AP) _ Federal agents seized computers and software Wednesday as part of an investigation targeting an Internet network used to illegally share copyrighted music, movies, software and games, Attorney General John Ashcroft said.

Singapore Airlines Orders 18 Boeing Jets

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SINGAPORE (AP) _ Singapore Airlines, Asia’s most valuable flag-carrier, said Wednesday it had ordered up to 31 long-range Boeing 777-300 jetliners as it expands its fleet, but was for now spurning the U.S. plane maker’s new Dreamliner 7E7.

EU Probes Microsoft-Time Warner Deal

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BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) _ Risking another trans-Atlantic tussle over Microsoft Corp., European Union antitrust regulators said Wednesday they were investigating whether the software giant’s deal with media conglomerate Time Warner Inc. to develop anti-piracy software might lead to a new monopoly.

Hurricane-Ravaged Businesses Making Do

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PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. (AP) _ Nancy Cuffaro was back in business, serving up New York-style pizza and apple turnovers in a restaurant still dark and sweltering almost two weeks after Hurricane Charley knocked out the electricity.

Banknorth, TD Bank in Merger Talks

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PORTLAND, Maine (AP) _ TD Bank Financial Group is discussing ``a possible transaction″ with the Northeast regional banking company Banknorth Group Inc., the companies confirmed Wednesday amid reports that the Canadian bank was seeking a controlling stake. Banknorth shares jumped more than 10 percent after the announcement.

Seven Brokerages Fined Total $3.65M by SEC

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WASHINGTON (AP) _ Seven regional brokerage firms have been fined a total $3.65 million by federal regulators for allegedly failing to disclose that they received payments for issuing research on certain companies, in a settlement announced Wednesday.

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