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AP Financial News Summary at 4:25 p.m. EDT

August 3, 2006

AOL to Slash Payroll by 5,000 Employees

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NEW YORK (AP) _ AOL said Thursday it expects to drop as many as 5,000 employees, or a quarter of its global work force, within six months as the company restructures its business to draw more online advertising dollars.

Dow Closes Up 43, Nasdaq Finishes Up 14

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NEW YORK (AP) _ Mild economic data and strong retail sales lifted stocks Thursday and helped investors overcome concerns about the Federal Reserve’s expected decision on interest rate hikes next week.

Retailers Report Solid Sales in July

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NEW YORK (AP) _ Scorching heat gave the nation’s retailers an unexpected sales bounce in July, but the outlook for the back-to-school season remained muddled, with higher energy prices and interest rates still expected to challenge shoppers in the months ahead.

Latest Reports Indicate Economy Thrives

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WASHINGTON (AP) _ Retailers scored solid sales and factories saw orders pick up, hopeful signs the economy isn’t cracking under the pressure of high energy prices.

Oil Prices Slide As Storm Fears Recede

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NEW YORK (AP) _ Oil prices fell Thursday as fears receded that a tropical storm blowing through the Caribbean could damage oil facilities in the Gulf of Mexico.

Ford Issues Recall, Sees 2Q Loss

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WASHINGTON (AP) _ Ford Motor Co., already reeling from business setbacks, recalled 1.2 million trucks, sport utility vehicles and vans Thursday amid concerns about potential engine fires.

Starbucks Shares Sink As Sales Sputter

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SEATTLE (AP) _ Starbucks Corp. shares sank nearly 10 percent Thursday, a day after the coffee retailer said it was retooling some store operations to improve service in the wake of slower sales growth in July.

MGM Mirage 2Q Profit Up, but Shares Down

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LAS VEGAS (AP) _ MGM Mirage Inc., one of the world’s largest casino companies, said Thursday its second-quarter profit climbed 4 percent, boosted by a full quarter of results from its Mandalay Resorts Group properties and a strong performance at the Bellagio. But the results were below analysts’ expectations and the company’s shares tumbled nearly 7 percent.

ECB Increases Interest Rate to 3 Percent

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FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) _ The European Central Bank raised its interest rate by a quarter point to 3 percent on Thursday amid warnings that inflation and rising energy prices remained a threat to economic growth.

Bank of England Raises Interest Rates

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LONDON (AP) _ The Bank of England raised interest rates a quarter of a percentage point to 4.75 percent Thursday, citing persistently high inflation as it made a largely unexpected move that changed the cost of borrowing for the first time in a year.

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