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AP Financial News Summary at 2:17 p.m. EDT

August 23, 2006

Fresh Data Shows Cooling Housing Market

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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.

Phonebooks Highlight New Orleans Changes

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ On a recent hot day, the new phonebook landed with a thud on the stoop of a house that one year ago lay under water, a notable sign of normalcy.

Dow, Nasdaq Fall on Weak Housing Numbers

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NEW YORK (AP) _ Wall Street fell for a third straight session Wednesday as fresh signs of a housing slump triggered concern the economy is slowing too fast and could erode corporate profits.

IBM to Buy Security Company for $1.3B

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BOSTON (AP) _ IBM Corp. said Wednesday it will spend $1.3 billion in cash to acquire Internet Security Systems Inc., which performs network monitoring and analysis services for companies.

Smithfield 1Q Profit Drops 50 Percent

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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 1st-Half Profit Up 11 Percent

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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 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.

Weyerhaeuser Combines Unit With Domtar

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SEATTLE (AP) _ Weyerhaeuser Co., one of the nation’s largest forest product companies, said Wednesday it has agreed to combine its fine paper business with the Canadian paper maker Domtar Inc. in a deal it valued at about $3.3 billion.

Oil Prices Slip As Gas Supplies Rise

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WASHINGTON (AP) _ Oil prices declined Wednesday after U.S. government data showed rising supplies of gasoline and other fuels as refiners cranked up their output. Analysts said traders also locked in profits after Iran offered to continue negotiations on its nuclear program.

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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