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Tuesday Midday Business Brief

July 8, 2014, 11:30 AM

Tuesday Midday Business Brief

U.S. stocks are opening lower for a second day in a row as investors position themselves for corporate earnings reports. Major U.S. companies start reporting their earnings this week, beginning with aluminum maker Alcoa later today.

  • The Vatican Bank is reporting a big dip in profits as Pope Francis presses to make the scandal-tainted institution more transparent. Balance sheets for 2013 show net profits for the Institute for Religious Works plunged to $4 million from $118 million in 2012. The bank continues to close accounts that don't meet tighter standards.
  • The United States and China will spend the next couple of days testing whether their annual economic and strategic discussions can produce tough compromises. The Obama administration would like agreements on climate change, an end to Chinese industrial cyberespionage and stricter rules governing maritime claims in Asia's contested, resource-rich seas. But China distrusts U.S. intentions and sees Washington encroaching in its internal and regional affairs.
  • Members of the World Trade Organization have begun negotiating a new agreement on almost $1 trillion of solar panels, soot removers and other environmental goods. Talks began today in Geneva and cover 86 percent of the global trade in that sector. The U.S. trade representative says a new agreement would eliminate tariffs of up to 35 percent on dozens of items and fulfill a key part of President Barack Obama's climate-change agenda.
  • India's new rail minister has proposed allowing foreign investment to modernize the country's cash-strapped state railways. India has one of the world's largest railways, serving 23 million passengers a day and employing more than 1.3 million workers employees. But the railways lost $5 billion last year, and a 2012 government-sponsored report nearly $93 billion will be needed over the next five years to upgrade infrastructure.

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