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Thursday Morning Business Brief

September 4, 2014, 6:07 AM

Thursday Morning Business Brief

International stocks were lackluster today as investors looked ahead to a European Central Bank meeting and U.S. economic data. Declines were tempered by an easing of tensions over Ukraine. Futures suggest a muted Wall Street opening today after treading water yesterday. The dollar fell against the yen but gained against the euro. Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell below $95 a barrel.

  • Investors are anxiously awaiting the private-sector employment figures for August from payroll processor ADP. Also today, the government will report weekly jobless claims, trade data for July and revised second-quarter productivity data. The Institute for Supply Management will also issue its service sector index for August and Freddie Mac will report weekly mortgage rates.
  • Microsoft will seek to draw more people to its Internet-based services with two new mid-range smartphones it unveiled today. One is even designed to help people take better selfies. Both devices are under the Lumia brand Microsoft bought from Nokia. They run the latest version of Windows Phone 8 and feature Cortana, a Siri-like voice assistant. Microsoft used the IFA technology show in Berlin to announce the new Lumia 730 and 830 phones.
  • Fiat SpA says its merger with Chrysler is going ahead since there isn't enough opposition to derail it. Fiat says in a statement today that shareholders had cashed out 463 million euros ($609 million), under the 500 million-euro ($657 million) threshold that would have scuttled the deal. Fiat shareholders had overwhelmingly approved the deal, but Italian law gives dissenters the right to cash out. The merger has been in the works since 2009.
  • France's Competition Authority says Nespresso has for the first time agreed to open up its machines to knockoff coffee pods, under pressure from anti-trust regulators.  The authority found that Nespresso had tweaked its machines four times between 2007 and 2013 to make competitors' pods unusable. Under the agreement, the company will give competitors four months' warning about changes.

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