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Wednesday Morning Business Brief

August 13, 2014, 5:56 AM

Wednesday Morning Business Brief

The stock market pulled back slightly Tuesday, following two days of gains, as investors focused on the damage that ongoing geopolitical tensions were causing the global economy. Energy stocks were among the biggest decliners, dragged down by lower oil prices. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 9.44 points, or 0.1 percent, to 16,560.54. The S&P 500 fell 3.17 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,933.75 and the Nasdaq composite fell 12.08 points, or 0.3 percent, to 4,389.25. Futures point to a higher opening today.

  • International stock markets overcame a contraction in Japan's economy and jitters about Ukraine and Iraq to mostly rise today, but analysts say new geopolitical developments would likely make for volatile trading. Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose to near $97.50 a barrel. The dollar gained against the yen and the euro.
  • Retail sales data for July and business inventories for June are due today from the Commerce Department. U.S. retail sales increased slightly in June, evidence that consumers remain cautious despite steady job gains this year. Retail sales are closely watched because consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of the economy.
  • Amazon is taking direct aim at mobile payment systems such as Square by introducing the Amazon Local Register. It's a credit-card processing device and mobile app designed to help small business owners accept payments through their smartphones and tablets. The move places the largest U.S. e-commerce retailer in competition with Square and other established mobile payment processing systems.
  • Faced with tougher and more resistant weeds, corn and soybean farmers are anxiously awaiting government decisions on a new version of a popular herbicide - and on genetically modified seeds to grow crops designed to resist it. Critics say more study is needed on the effects of the herbicide and they are concerned it could endanger public health. The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to rule this fall on a new version of the 2,4-D herbicide.

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