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AP Financial News Summary at 4:56 p.m. EDT

August 18, 2006

Ford Announces Deep Production Cut

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DETROIT (AP) _ Ford announced its largest production cuts in more than 20 years on Friday, blaming high gas prices for pushing many customers away from its pickups and SUVs and toward higher-mileage models.

Dow Closes Up 47 on Investor Optimism

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NEW YORK (AP) _ Investors eked out Wall Street’s fifth-straight day of gains Friday, bucking concerns about lagging consumer sentiment and disappointing second-quarter results from Dell Inc.

BP Says It Restores Half of Prudhoe Bay

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) _ BP PLC on Friday said it had restored half of the production from Prudhoe Bay, nearly two weeks after threatening to shut the entire field down because of leaks from corroded pipelines.

Wal-Mart Battling to Revive Growth

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BENTONVILLE, Ark. (AP) _ Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is fighting battles on multiple fronts after posting its first quarterly profit decline in 10 years, and analysts question whether the world’s largest retailer can regain the feverish growth rates of its past.

Sector Wrap: Computers

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NEW YORK (AP) _ Two of the world’s largest computer makers posted quarterly earnings this week, with markedly different results.

Microsoft Switches Stock Buyback Tactic

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REDMOND, Wash. (AP) _ Microsoft Corp. said Friday it was switching tactics in its $40 billion stock buyback program after only $3.8 billion worth of shares were tendered in a ``Dutch auction″ that expired Thursday, well below the $20 billion it had been prepared to spend.

Oil Prices Briefly Fall Below $70

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LONDON (AP) _ Oil prices briefly dipped below $70 a barrel during trading Friday for the first time in almost two months after a wave of good news in the Middle East and from an Alaskan oil field.

Judge Rejects Fines for Cigarette Makers

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WASHINGTON (AP) _ A federal judge says the nation’s top cigarette makers conspired for decades to mislead the public about the health hazards and addictive nature of smoking, but she says there’s not much she can do to make them pay.

Suppliers Ready for End of C-17 Aircraft

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WASHINGTON (AP) _ Boeing Co. said Friday it will begin shutting down production of its C-17 cargo plane, a decision affecting nearly 700 companies and more than 25,000 people that provide parts and services that go into each aircraft.

Sector Wrap: Gap Continues to Flounder

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NEW YORK (AP) _ Failure to drive customer traffic and sell clothes that appeal to young people continue to weigh on Gap Inc., which posted its fourth straight quarter of lower earnings on Thursday, disappointing those who hoped for a turnaround at the nation’s largest specialty apparel retailer.

Northwest Files Appeal to Block Strike

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) _ Northwest Airlines Corp. filed an appeal as expected on Friday aimed at blocking a strike by flight attendants that could begin as early as Aug. 25.

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