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AP Financial News Summary at 3:23 p.m. EDT

July 28, 2004

U.S. Crude Prices Hit 21-Year High

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LONDON (AP) _ Crude prices shot to a 21-year high Wednesday as markets reacted to a threat by Russian authorities to shut down most of the production from that country’s largest oil company.

Time Warner’s 2Q Earnings Dip 27 Percent

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NEW YORK (AP) _ Time Warner Inc.’s net earnings fell 27 percent in the second quarter from a year ago, when profits were boosted by a $760 million settlement with Microsoft Corp. in a dispute over browsers and a gain from the sale of its stake in Comedy Central.

Stocks Decline on Soaring Oil Prices

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NEW YORK (AP) _ Stocks sagged Wednesday as crude prices neared $43 a barrel on news that Russia’s largest oil company may be forced to halt production, muting investors’ reaction to a strong earnings report and upbeat forecast from Boeing Co.

Boeing Reports $607 Million Profit in 2Q

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CHICAGO (AP) _ Boeing Co. reported a better-than-expected $607 million profit for the second quarter and raised its earnings estimates for the rest of this year and next, buoyed in part by an improving outlook for the long-stagnant commercial airplane business.

Fed Reports Slowdown in Consumer Spending

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WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Federal Reserve reported Wednesday that the U.S. economy cooled off in June and July as consumer spending, especially on autos, slowed significantly after a big surge in early spring.

Comcast Posts $262M Profit in 2Q

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Comcast Corp., the nation’s largest cable company, said Wednesday that strong sales of its Internet service and increased demand for cable features like video-on-demand helped it post a $262 million profit in its second quarter in contrast to a loss a year ago.

Unilever’s 2Q Profits Jump 33 Percent

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LONDON (AP) _ Unilever PLC, the maker of Lipton Tea and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, posted a 33 percent increase in second-quarter earnings but sales fell amid stiff competition, particularly in Europe, the company said Wednesday.

Reynolds’ Shareholders OK Merger With B&W

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) _ Shareholders of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. overwhelmingly approved a $4.2 billion merger with Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. on Wednesday, clearing the way for completion of the deal.

Sony’s Profit Soars in Latest Quarter

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TOKYO (AP) _ Sony Corp.’s profit surged as improved results from its cell-phone joint venture Sony Ericsson and other businesses in which it has an investment stake more than offset weaker operating results from its electronics and video-games businesses which saw shipments of its PlayStation 2 machines tumble.

Citigroup, Others to Pay $5M Each in Fines

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WASHINGTON (AP) _ Four Wall Street firms are paying $5 million each in fines and restitution to investors they allegedly overcharged for corporate bonds under settlements with securities regulators announced Wednesday.

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