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Wednesday Afternoon Business Brief

July 23, 2014, 1:19 PM

Wednesday Afternoon Business Brief
  • Stocks are mixed this afternoon on Wall Street as traders weigh positive earnings from the technology industry against disappointing news from Boeing and other companies. Biotechnology stocks are among the biggest gainers.
  • The International Monetary Fund is dialing back its forecast for U.S. economic growth this year, mostly because of a sharp contraction in the first quarter. The IMF projects growth will be just 1.7 percent this year, down from a 2 percent estimate in June. That would be the slowest annual rate since the recession ended in June 2009. But the IMF still thinks growth resumed in the April-June quarter and will remain healthy in the second half of this year and next.
  • The nation's largest retail trade group has pared its annual sales forecast because of slower-than-expected growth during the first half of the year. The National Retail Federation now expects retail sales to rise 3.6 percent this year to $3.19 trillion, instead of its original prediction of a 4.1 percent increase, released in early February.  Retailers are struggling to recover from the effects of harsh winter weather.
  • General Motors is issuing six more recalls covering a total of almost 718,000 vehicles in the U.S. The latest recalls bring the total for GM so far this year to 60, affecting a record 29.7 million cars and trucks. The biggest recall announced today is for just over 414,000 cars and small SUVs for faulty seats. Other problems include incomplete welds on seat brackets, turn signal failures, power steering failures, loose suspension bolts and faulty roof rack bolts.
  • Regulators have voted to end a longtime staple of the investment industry: the fixed $1 share price for money-market mutual funds, at least for some money funds used by big investors. The idea is to minimize the risk of a mass withdrawal from the funds during a financial panic.  The Securities and Exchange Commission also is letting money funds block withdrawals when their assets fall below certain levels, or impose fees for withdrawals. The new rules were adopted today on a 3-2 vote.

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