Update on the latest in business:

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Associated Press

Posted on July 15, 2014 at 3:02 AM

Updated Tuesday, Jul 15 at 3:02 AM

WALL STREET

Stocks move higher on earnings, acquisition news

UNDATED (AP) — Wall Street is shaking off last week's doldrums.

Stocks finished sharply higher yesterday, driven by a round of corporate deal news and strong earnings from Citigroup.

Investors cheered AECOM Technology's $4 billion acquisition of engineering and construction services company URS Corp.

Citigroup rose 3 percent after the bank turned in better-than-expected results and disclosed it has agreed to pay $7 billion to settle a federal probe into its mortgage securities business.

All told, the three major stock indexes notched their second gain in two days. That's a turnaround from last week, when the Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 0.9 percent, its worst showing since April.

The S&P 500 rose 9 1/2 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,977. Nine of the 10 sectors in the index rose, led by energy stocks.

The Dow Jones industrial average added nearly 112 points, or 0.7 percent, to 17,055. The Dow is down slightly from its July 3 record of 17,068.

The Nasdaq composite gained 25 points, or 0.6 percent, to 4,440..

The three stock indexes are all up for the year.

WORLD MARKETS

Asian shares higher as earnings lift Wall Street

TOKYO (AP) — Asian stocks markets were mostly higher today after strong corporate earnings bolstered Wall Street.

Investors are also looking ahead to major economic news with China due to report second quarter GDP tomorrow. Optimism about the world's No. 2 economy was encouraged by Premier Li Keqiang's comment last week that growth improved from 7.4 percent in the first quarter.

Regional markets are also clawing back losses sustained last week due to jitters about Portuguese bank Espirito Santo International after it reportedly missed a debt payment.

Apart from Japan's central bank meeting, U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen is due to testify before a congressional committee this week. Investors expect her to stick to a stance of keeping interest rates low for the time being.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose to near $101 per barrel. The dollar gained against the euro and the yen.

ECONOMY-THE DAY AHEAD

Major business and economic events scheduled for Tuesday:

UNDATED (AP) — The Commerce Department will issue two economic reports today. One will cover retail sales data for June.

In May, sales rose modestly as consumers turned cautious. Retail sales rose 0.3 percent, helped by a jump in demand for autos. The result follows a 0.5 percent climb in April.

The other report will focus on business inventories for May.

In April, businesses increased their stockpiles by the most in six months, signaling optimism that future demand will keep rising. Inventories rose 0.6 percent after a 0.4 percent March gain.

As the earning season continues, two financial powerhouses will release their quarterly results today: JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs Group. Both report before the market opens.

Also today, Johnson & Johnson will report earnings before the market opens.

CSX and Yahoo will release quarterly financial results after the market closes.

CREDIT CARD COLLECTIONS

US consumer bureau sues debt-collection law firm

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is suing a major debt collection law firm, alleging it is a "mill" that produces shoddy, mass-produced credit-card collection lawsuits.

The bureau's claim was filed in federal court in Atlanta on Monday and states that Frederick J. Hanna & Associates failed to do basic due diligence on the accuracy of suits it filed to collect defaulted consumer credit-card debts. In Georgia, one attorney signed off on 180,000 lawsuits over two years.

In a statement, Hanna & Associates said "we strongly deny the allegations of the complaint and, moreover, the overall characterization of our law firm."

The suit signaled potential trouble for other collections law firms and the banks that hire them. Hanna & Associates' past clients include JPMorgan Chase & Co and Capital One.

WORLD BANK FOR BRICS

Emerging nations plan their own World Bank, IMF

WASHINGTON (AP) — Fed up with U.S. dominance of the global financial system, five emerging market powers this week will launch their own versions of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

Harold Trinkunas, director of the Latin America Initiative at the Brookings Institution, says Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa —the so-called BRICS countries — are seeking "alternatives to the existing world order."

At a summit today through Thursday in Brazil, the five countries will unveil a $100 billion fund to fight financial crises, their version of the IMF. They will also launch a World Bank alternative, a new bank that will make loans for infrastructure projects across the developing world.

UNITED STATES-QATAR-ARMS SALE

US selling $11 billion in arms to Qatar

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Pentagon is making an $11 billion sale of Apache attack helicopters and Patriot and Javelin air-defense weapons to the Persian Gulf state of Qatar (GUH'-tur).

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and his Qatari counterpart, Hamad bin Ali al-Attiyah, met Monday at the Pentagon to sign the deal.

Qatar is a key U.S. ally and hosts a major U.S. air operations center. Qatar was instrumental in completing the deal that gained the May 31 release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was held for five years by the Taliban, in exchange for the release by the U.S. of five Taliban commanders imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The U.S. in recent years has made a priority of improving the air defenses of its Gulf allies.

WCUP-RATINGS

More than 26 million watch World Cup final in US

NEW YORK (AP) — With an estimated 26.5 million viewers, Sunday's World Cup final stands as the most-watched soccer game in U.S. history.

The Nielsen company said Monday that 17.3 million people watched Germany beat Argentina 1-0 on ABC. An additional 9.2 million tuned in to the game on the Spanish-language Univision network.

That tops the 24.7 million who watched the U.S.-Portugal match earlier in the tournament, and the same number of people who saw the 2010 World Cup final between the Netherlands and Spain.

Between well-played games and a time zone compatible with U.S. viewing, both networks were up significantly throughout the tournament from four years ago.

MEXICO-TELECOM REFORM

Mexican president signs law restricting telecoms

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto has signed into law a communications overhaul with tough restrictions on dominant companies in the telephone and television sectors.

The bill imposes fee limits and infrastructure-sharing requirements on any company that controls more than half the market in sectors like telephones, Internet or television.

Companies judged to have "preponderant" market positions face limits on how much and who they can charge, what fields they can enter and what kind of exclusivity arrangements they can make.

Pena Nieto says the change will increase competition in radio and television and create more effective phone and Internet services.

Billionaire Carlos Slim's America Movil phone company announced last week it will sell off assets to get the company below the 50 percent limit.

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