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Today's Headlines

Friday, August 1, 2014

Top News
John O. Brennan, the C.I.A. director, apologized to two senators in connection with the penetration of a computer network.
Inquiry by C.I.A. Affirms It Spied on Senate Panel


A report by the agency's inspector general also found that C.I.A. officers read the emails of the Senate investigators and sent a criminal referral to the Justice Department based on false information.
Israeli soldiers near the Gaza border on Thursday.
Cease-Fire in Gaza Conflict Takes Effect as Talks Are Set


The United States and the United Nations announced the 72-hour pause early Friday, a diplomatic bolt-from-the-blue that will set the stage for arduous negotiations between Israel and Hamas.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's shutdown of an ethics panel has drawn the attention of a United States attorney.
Cuomo's Back-Room Style Draws a Potent Critic


Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said his office was interested only in setting the record straight about the role it played in the handling of the disbanded anticorruption panel.
For more top news, go to »
Editors' Picks
A classroom in Monrovia, Liberia, on Thursday. Liberia has announced school closings to help combat the Ebola outbreak.


Emergency Efforts in Africa to Contain Ebola as Toll Rises


New measures to combat the disease included house-to-house searches, advisories against travel and the deployment of the army and the police.


When Wheelchairs Are Cool


In an age of equal rights, is it ever O.K. to play the disability card?
U.S. | Suicide Bomber From U.S. Came Home Before Attack
WORLD | Arab Leaders, Viewing Hamas as Worse Than Israel, Stay Silent
MAGAZINE | The Kids Who Beat Autism


"It's kind of like taking an exam, all the time. You always have to have the answer."
DOMINIC SIRI, a 21-year-old college student, on learning to drive in East Harlem.
Today's Video
Video VIDEO: Gaza Conflict Divides U.N. and Israel
A look at the increasingly tense relationship between the United Nations and Israel as the violence continues in Gaza.
. Related Article
Video VIDEO: Comic Shop Over the Multiplex
The reporter Dana Jennings on why the comic book may be a better alternative than the movie theater.
. Related Article
Video VIDEO: This Week's Movies | August 1, 2014
The New York Times film critics review "Guardians of the Galaxy," "Get On Up" and "Child of God."
. Related Review: 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
. Related Review: 'Get On Up'
. Related Review: 'Child of God'
For more video, go to »
School Shelters Offer Limited Safety, and Even Less Comfort


Life for about 200,000 people packed into more than 80 schools serving as shelters in Gaza is full of deprivation and discomfort.
A Ukrainian soldier and vehicles from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
Break in Fighting Lets International Team Reach Site of Ukraine Crash


Ukrainian officials said they had suspended offensive operations against pro-Russia rebels to allow the monitors to reach the site safely.
Secretary of State John Kerry, visiting a factory in New Delhi, is to meet with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday morning.
In India, Kerry to Meet New Prime Minister and Seek Improved Relations


With Prime Minister Narendra Modi pushing economic growth and better governance, the Obama administration has cast his election as a chance to bolster economic ties.
For more world news, go to »
Gov. Scott Walker called the decision on collective bargaining limits for public sector unions a win for
Wisconsin Justices Uphold Union Limits, a Victory for the Governor


The Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld a law that effectively ended collective bargaining for most public workers, in a victory for Gov. Scott Walker. The voting law that it upheld is blocked in federal court.
Phil Berger, left, president pro tem of the North Carolina Senate, with Senator Bob Rucho during a budget debate Thursday.
North Carolina Budget May Raise Teacher Pay


The North Carolina Senate moved toward sealing a long-sought budget accord on Thursday, voting in favor of a $21 billion plan that would raise the salaries of public schoolteachers but impose cuts elsewhere in state government.
Former Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia arrived in federal court in Richmond on Thursday for the corruption trial against him and his wife, Maureen.
Jury in Ex-Virginia Governor's Trial Hears of Money Transfer


Jonnie R. Williams Sr., a wealthy Virginia businessman and the star witness in the corruption trial of former Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife, testified for a second day on Thursday.
For more U.S. news, go to »

Speaker John A. Boehner on Thursday after a $659 million spending measure to address the surge of young migrants was withdrawn.
Rebellion Inside G.O.P. Scuttles Vote on Border Bill


A $659 million emergency spending measure to address the surge of young migrants was withdrawn, but leaders are expected to hold another meeting Friday morning to decide how to proceed.
. Video  Video: Boehner's Defense on Immigration
Mr. Cochran, 76, left, agreed to speak at the rural fair in Neshoba County for the first time in 17 years.
Sizing Up Senator Thad Cochran Alongside Tomatoes, Pies and Cows


Mississippi voters came to hear Mr. Cochran give his stump speech at the Neshoba County Fair, a 125-year-old tradition that signifies the beginning of the general election season.
Nick Casey, a Democrat, center, is running for Congress in West Virginia's Second District.
With Eyes on Seats in Maryland and West Virginia, Politicians Cross Borders


As congressional candidates take a chance on changing districts, and even states, to try to get elected, they raise the question of whether local ties even matter anymore.
For more political news, go to »
The MoneyPak card from Green Dot.


MoneyPak, a Popular Prepaid Money Card, Opens Path to Fraud Schemes


The MoneyPak card, used to transfer cash by those without access to conventional bank accounts, has also caught the eye of criminals, from a Maryland jail gang to an online prostitution ring in North Carolina.
Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange watched Thursday as the Dow Jones industrial average plunged 317 points.
Markets End July in Dive, but Analysts Are Upbeat


The stock market ended July with the sharpest decline in the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index since April, while the Dow Jones industrial index eliminated all of its gains for the year.
Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg, the F.D.A. commissioner, said the agency acted because of the concern over inaccurate test results.  
F.D.A. Acts on Lab Tests Developed In-House


The Food and Drug Administration said it felt the need to act to ensure the safety of home-brew test systems that are being developed and marketed widely.
For more business news, go to »
The recent burst of activity comes as the Internet behemoth prepares one of the most highly anticipated market debuts since Facebook's two years ago.
Alibaba Is Investing Huge Sums in an Array of U.S. Tech Companies


The Chinese retail giant has made a half-dozen major investments in American start-ups over the last year, focusing on mobile and e-commerce.
Microsoft is challenging the authority of federal prosecutors to force it to hand over a customer's email stored in a data center in Ireland.


Judge Rules That Microsoft Must Turn Over Data Stored in Ireland


Other big technology companies are watching the case, which Microsoft said it would appeal, as a potential threat to their plans to offer cloud computing overseas.
Xavier Niel founded Iliad, a cellphone upstart in France. The company sees a kindred disruptive spirit in T-Mobile US.


Upstart French Telecom Iliad Bids $15 Billion for a Majority Stake in T-Mobile US


The move by Iliad, the fourth largest cellphone operator in France, would be a huge test of its financial capabilities and comes as T-Mobile and Sprint have been in merger talks.
For more technology news, go to »
The Detroit Tigers boosted their rotation by acquiring David Price on the same day that the Oakland Athletics traded for Jon Lester, another starter.


Vintage Blockbusters Reshuffle Race


With their latest acquisitions, the Tigers and the Athletics hope to capture the championship that has eluded them in recent decades, but they may stand in each other's way again.
. On Eventful Day, the Action Begins With One Ace and Ends With Another
. On Baseball: Angels Were Way Ahead of the Trade Deadline
The Yankees acquired Stephen Drew from the Boston Red Sox for Kelly Johnson.
Yankees Acquire Martin Prado and Stephen Drew


Prado, signed through 2016, is a versatile player with a career .290 batting average. Drew, who was hitting .176 for the Red Sox, is a shortstop.
The former Bayern Munich star Markus Babbel playing in Brooklyn on Wednesday.
Deep-Pocketed Bayern Munich Is Open for Business in U.S.


The German soccer powerhouse Bayern Munich has opened an office in Manhattan in an effort to market itself more effectively in the United States.
For more sports news, go to

HONG KONG (MarketWatch) — Despite stronger-than-expected Chinese manufacturing data, Hong Kong stocks followed the overnight selloff on Wall Street and closed solidly lower on Friday, ending their eight-session string of gains.
China’s manufacturing sector continued to expand in July, with the official Purchase Managers Index hitting a 27-month high, data showed on Friday. Separately, the HSBC’s China manufacturing PMI rose to an 18-month high of 51.7 for last month.
However, the Hang Seng Index HK:HSI -0.91% finished Friday’s trading session with a 0.9% retreat, taking a negative lead from the U.S. markets overnight. The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA -0.40%  dropped 1.9% on Thursday, suffering its biggest daily decline since February.
In Hong Kong markets, property stocks were the main drag. Cheung Kong (Holdings) HK:0001 -4.71% , owned by Asia’s richest man Li Ka-shing, tumbled 4.7%, with investors setting side a 59% year-over-year jump in the company’s net profit for the first half.
China Overseas Land & InvestmentHK:0688 -2.31%  lost 2.3%, also failing to get enough a boost from a 18% increase in its first-half earnings.
In Japan, stocks fell to one week-low, as the Nikkei Average JP:NIK -0.63%  fell by 0.6% 15,523.10. The broader Topix index JP:I0000 +0.37%  also dropped 0.6%, while the yen USDJPY -0.32%  weakened to ¥102.941 from ¥102.779 in the previous day.
On the Chinese mainland, the Shanghai Composite Index CN:SHCOMP -0.74%  finished 0.7% lower. Elsewhere, Sydney’s S&P/ASX 200 AU:XJO -1.36%  declined 1.4%, and Seoul’s Kospi Composite Index KR:SEU -0.15%  slipped 0.2%.

More must-reads from MarketWatch:

Laura He is a MarketWatch reporter based in Hong Kong. Follow Laura on Twitter at: @lauraliuhe


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London open: Miners, RBS drag UK stocks lower ahead of US data
- Miners, RBS drag markets lower
- US labour-market data in focus
- UK stocks follow sell-off on Wall Street

techMARK 2,747.58 -0.63%
FTSE 100 6,688.51 -0.62%
FTSE 250 15,393.35 -0.66%

Falling share prices in the mining sector and a cool reaction to quarterly results from Royal Bank of Scotland ensured that UK stocks opened in negative territory on Friday morning, following on from a sell-off on Wall Street.

The FTSE 100 was lower for a third straight day, down 0.6% at 6,689 early on. The index has not closed below the 6,700 market since July 11th.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average sank 317 points, or 1.9%, on Thursday evening - its worst single-day decline since February - as investors fled for safety after a wave of corporate earnings, economic data and a debt default in Argentina.

Recent US figures - rising wage inflation and a sharp rebound in economic growth in particular - were causing traders to tread cautiously amid speculation that robust data could prompt the Federal Reserve to tighten policy sooner than expected after the end of quantitative easing.

As such, the US employment report will be the main event of the day on Friday. The consensus forecast is for a 231,000 gain in non-farm payrolls in July, down from an impressive 288,000 in June. The unemployment rate is expected to remain unchanged after falling to 6.1%, its lowest since September 2008.

"As always though, the devil is in the detail and it may be that revisions and/or wages growth take centre stage in terms of what is seen as influencing the Federal Reserve's timing on that all-important first interest rate hike," said Mike van Dulken, head of research at Accendo Markets.

Mining stocks and RBS provide a drag

Mining stocks were trading in the red early on with Glencore among the worst performers. The company announced this morning that it has completed the $7bn sale of its Las Bambas copper project in Peru, proceeds of which will be used to "immediately and materially de-gear [[the] balance sheet".

Sector peers Rio TintoRandgold ResourcesAnglo American and BHP Billiton were also out of favour.

RBS management to beat forecasts with a 367% increase in first-half operating profits to £2.6bn, but the market was left underwhelmed with the stock under pressure in morning trade. While impairment charges were sharply lower during the period - benefitting the bottom line - total income fell by 5.9% to £9.9bn.

British Airways and Iberia owner International Airlines Group was flying high as it moved into the black in the first half, said cost-cutting should help it boost annual profits and announced it was buying 16 Airbus jets.

Beverage can maker Rexam also advanced after saying it was on track after an in-line first half despite foreign exchange (FX) and high aluminium prices impacting interim results.

FX rates also weighed on first-half profits at engineering group IMI, but shares rose in early trading after the company said that organic revenues improved by 3%.

Outsourcing group Capita was a heavy faller after Credit Suisse downgraded the stock to 'neutral'.

FTSE 100 - RisersInternational Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 339.60p +2.66%
Rexam (REX) 513.00p +2.40%
Smith & Nephew (SN.) 1,044.00p +1.75%
Morrison (Wm) Supermarkets (MRW) 170.60p +1.19%
Admiral Group (ADM) 1,474.00p +1.17%
IMI (IMI) 1,429.00p +0.85%
British Sky Broadcasting Group (BSY) 885.00p +0.68%
Reckitt Benckiser Group (RB.) 5,280.00p +0.67%
Sainsbury (J) (SBRY) 314.70p +0.58%
Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) 1,101.00p +0.36%

FTSE 100 - FallersCapita (CPI) 1,173.00p -2.41%
United Utilities Group (UU.) 869.00p -2.36%
Schroders (SDR) 2,336.00p -2.26%
GKN (GKN) 335.50p -2.02%
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 348.20p -2.00%
Glencore (GLEN) 352.95p -1.97%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 3,329.00p -1.86%
Mondi (MNDI) 1,024.00p -1.82%
BT Group (BT.A) 382.00p -1.67%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 5,035.00p -1.66%

FTSE 250 - RisersDirect Line Insurance Group (DLG) 294.80p +3.44%
Afren (AFR) 112.40p +2.18%
Bank of Georgia Holdings (BGEO) 2,468.00p +1.36%
PZ Cussons (PZC) 357.60p +1.19%
Tate & Lyle (TATE) 629.50p +0.88%
Informa (INF) 491.70p +0.78%
Pets at Home Group (PETS) 179.60p +0.73%
Just Eat (JE.) 202.90p +0.69%
SIG (SHI) 168.40p +0.60%
Premier Oil (PMO) 323.70p +0.59%

FTSE 250 - FallersMan Group (EMG) 113.30p -4.79%
Infinis Energy (INFI) 224.90p -3.27%
Hochschild Mining (HOC) 158.00p -3.07%
Fidessa Group (FDSA) 2,023.00p -2.97%
RPS Group (RPS) 248.50p -2.74%
Exova Group (EXO) 225.20p -2.51%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 131.40p -2.38%
Merlin Entertainments (MERL) 346.10p -2.29%
Interserve (IRV) 622.00p -2.28%

UK Event Calendar
Friday August 01

Capital & Counties Properties , Direct Line Insurance Group, IMI, Jardine Matheson Holdings Ltd (Singapore Reg), Jardine Strategic Holdingd Ltd. (Singapore), Man Group, Rentokil Initial, Rexam, Robert Walters, Royal Bank of Scotland Group, Smith & Nephew, UBM, Vesuvius, William Hill

Driver Group, Heavitree Brewery, Heavitree Brewery 'A' Shares, TP5 VCT 'B' Shares

Mercantile Investment Trust (The), Torchmark Corp., Verizon Communications

Auto Sales (US) (15:00)
Construction Spending (US) (15:00)
ISM Manufacturing (US) (15:00)
ISM Prices Paid (US) (15:00)
Non-Farm Payrolls (US) (13:30)
Personal Consumption Expenditures (US) (13:30)
Personal Income (US) (13:30)
Personal Spending (US) (13:30)
PMI Manufacturing (EU) (09:00)
PMI Manufacturing (GER) (08:55)
U. of Michigan Confidence (Final) (US) (14:55)
Unemployment Rate (US) (13:30)

Smith & Nephew

M&G High Income Inv Trust Income & Growth Units

Electronic Data Processing

Hyder Consulting, Vedanta Resources

PMI Manufacturing (09:30)

Alpha Real Trust Ltd., API Group, Bisichi Mining, British Smaller Companies VCT, Brown (N.) Group, Carphone Warehouse Group, CML Microsystems, De La Rue, Dee Valley Group, Dee Valley Group (Non-Voting), Grafenia , Halfords Group, Homeserve, KCOM Group, Next, Shanks Group, TalkTalk Telecom Group , Tate & Lyle, Telecom Plus, United Utilities Group, Vianet Group, Workspace Group

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Europe open: Stocks fall before US non-farm payrolls
- US non-farm payrolls in focus
- Eurozone PMI revised lower

FTSE 100: -0.75%
DAX: -0.83%
CAC 40: -0.97%
FTSE MIB: -0.49%
IBEX 35: -1.21%
Stoxx 600: -0.75%

European stocks declined as investors awaited the release of the US non-farm payrolls report.

The US Labor Department's report is expected to show employers added 230,000 jobs in July, less than the 288,000 jobs in June. The unemployment rate is forecast to hold at 6.1%.

The Federal Reserve is closely monitoring jobs data to gauge whether the economy is healthy enough to sustain an interest rate hike.

The central bank on Wednesday decided to keep interest rates unchanged after its two-day policy meeting, saying while the jobs market has improved it still has room to grow. The Fed also cut monthly bond purchases by a further $10bn.

Analysts at Danske Bank predict a first increase in interest rates to come in April 2015, instead of towards the middle of next year.

In the Eurozone, Markit's purchasing managers' index for manufacturing was revised lower to 52.4 in July from 52.9, previously, surprising analysts who had expected it to remain unchanged. A reading above 50 signals expansion.

ArcelorMittal, Societe Generale

ArcelorMittal declined after lowering its full-year profit estimate.

Societe Generale jumped after second quarter profit beat analysts' forecasts.

Iliad slumped after offering $15bn for a controlling stake in T-Mobile US.

Vinci SA edged lower as Europe's biggest builder forecast a slight drop in 2014 revenue, compared to previous guidance of little change.

International Consolidated Airlines (IAG) gained after the parent company of British Airways reported better-than-expected second quarter operating profit. IAG also announced an order for 16 new wide-body jets at its Iberia arm.

The euro fell 0.06% to $1.3382.

Brent crude futures slipped 0.123% to $105.89 per barrel, according to the ICE.

US Market Report
US close: Stocks fall after US jobs, manufacturing data disappoints
- Weekly jobless claims rise
- Chicago PMI falls
- Argentina misses debt payment

DJIA: -1.88%
Nasdaq: -2.09%
S&P 500: -2.00%

US stocks slid after worse-than-expected reports on jobs and manufacturing in the world's biggest economy.

US initial weekly unemployment claims rose by 23,000 in the week ended 26 July to 302,000, according to the US Department of Labor on Thursday. The consensus estimate had been for a reading of 300,000. The previous week's estimate was revised sharply lower to 279,000.

The report comes ahead of Friday's official government monthly jobs data which will be closely watched by the market.

The Federal Reserve on Wednesday said the labour market was improving but still had room to grow, as it decided to keep interest rates unchanged and cut a further $10bn from monthly bond purchases.

Analysts at Danske Bank said they now project a first hike in interest rates arriving in April 2015, instead of towards the middle of next year.

Another US report on Thursday showed manufacturing activity unexpectedly fell in July. The Chicago purchasing managers' index declined to a reading of 52.6 from 62.6 in June, well below forecasts of 63.5 but above the 50 level that signals expansion.

Meanwhile, Argentina missed a deadline on Wednesday to pay $539m in interest after failing to agree on an accord with creditors from its last default in 2001.

Whole Foods, Kraft Food

Whole Foods retreated after the natural-goods grocer lowered its 2014 revenue forecast amid competition from new rivals.

Kraft Food Group also slumped after posting second quarter results that beat analysts' estimates.

Micron Technology dropped after earnings from Samsung Electronics posted its lowest quarterly profit since it became the largest mobile-phone producer in 2012.

West Texas Intermediate crude futures declined 6.8% for July, the most since May 2012, as US gasoline demand fell and as a strong dollar weighed on commodities.
Oil for September delivery dropped 2.1% to $98.17 a barrel on Thursday.

The US 10-year yield was down one basis point to 2.56%.

S&P 500 - Risers
Marathon Petroleum Corporation (MPC) $83.48 +5.70%
Tesoro Corp. (TSO) $61.54 +3.62%
Lam Research Corp. (LRCX) $70.00 +3.11%
Newell Rubbermaid Inc. (NWL) $32.48 +2.75%
Allstate Corp (The) (ALL) $58.45 +2.74%
Staples Inc. (SPLS) $11.59 +2.20%
Discovery Communications Inc. Class A (DISCA) $85.21 +1.79%
Avon Products Inc. (AVP) $13.20 +1.62%
Valero Energy Corp. (VLO) $50.80 +1.48%
United States Steel Corp. (X) $33.49 +1.39%

S&P 500 - Fallers
L-3 Communications Holdings Inc. (LLL) $104.96 -12.27%
Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. (GT) $25.18 -8.93%
Pentair plc (PNR) $64.07 -7.93%
Kraft Foods Group, Inc. (KRFT) $53.58 -7.23%
Helmerich & Payne Inc. (HP) $106.26 -7.20%
Murphy Oil Corp. (MUR) $62.13 -6.88%
Genworth Financial Inc. (GNW) $13.10 -6.29%
Kellogg Co. (K) $59.83 -6.12%
Micron Technology Inc. (MU) $30.55 -6.09%
Legg Mason Inc. (LM) $47.45 -5.98%

Dow Jones I.A - Risers

Dow Jones I.A - Fallers
Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) $98.94 -4.17%
American Express Co. (AXP) $88.00 -3.20%
Nike Inc. (NKE) $77.13 -3.12%
Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) $50.42 -2.59%
Caterpillar Inc. (CAT) $100.75 -2.54%
Chevron Corp. (CVX) $129.24 -2.48%
Merck & Co. Inc. (MRK) $56.74 -2.31%
Unitedhealth Group Inc. (UNH) $81.05 -2.29%
Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) $100.09 -2.16%
AT&T Inc. (T) $35.59 -2.12%

Nasdaq 100 - Risers
Staples Inc. (SPLS) $11.59 +2.20%
Discovery Communications Inc. Class A (DISCA) $85.21 +1.79%
Broadcom Corp. (BRCM) $38.26 +1.03%
KLA-Tencor Corp. (KLAC) $71.49 +0.13%

Nasdaq 100 - Fallers
Kraft Foods Group, Inc. (KRFT) $53.58 -7.23%
Micron Technology Inc. (MU) $30.55 -6.09%
TripAdvisor Inc. (TRIP) $94.84 -5.18%
Charter Communications Inc. (CHTR) $154.52 -4.48%
Garmin Ltd. (GRMN) $55.02 -4.45%
Illumina Inc. (ILMN) $159.91 -4.09%
Autodesk Inc. (ADSK) $53.35 -4.06%
Adobe Systems Inc. (ADBE) $69.25 -3.67%
Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. (VRTX) $88.91 -3.37%

Newspaper Round Up
Friday newspaper round-up: Argentina, Gaza, Shell...
Argentina's government was in a defiant mood on Thursday after defaulting on its debt for the second time in 13 years. Economy minister Axel Kicillof, speaking after 11th hour talks with bondholders in New York failed to avert a default, played down the impact it would have on the country's citizens. "We're not going to sign an agreement that jeopardises the future of all Argentinians," he told a press conference in New York. "Argentinians can remain calm because tomorrow will just be another day and the world will keep on spinning." - The Guardian

Hamas and Israel have this morning begun a tense 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire after The White House described the Israeli shelling of a UN school which killed 15 people as "totally unacceptable and totally indefensible". A spokesman said there appeared to be little doubt "whose artillery was involved". The school in northern Gaza was sheltering civilians who had been told to leave their homes by the Israeli army. - The Independent

Shell has mothballed a multibillion-dollar shale gas joint venture in eastern Ukraine amid the escalating conflict with Russia. The Anglo-Dutch oil group said that the project, to drill for shale gas in almost 8,000 sq km near the site of the downed Malaysian airliner, was on hold. Analysts had expected the company to invest up to $10 billion after signing an agreement with the Ukrainian government in September in what would have been one of the largest foreign investments in the country. - The Times

The owner of British Gas has attacked the energy industry regulator for making "false" accusations of profiteering in an escalating rift over the size of household bills for electricity and gas. Centrica yesterday revealed a 40 per cent slump in half-year profits, partly due to mild winter weather, and insisted that its profits for the year would be less than half the £106-per-home cited as an industry average by Ofgem this week. - The Times

The shooting down of a Malaysia Airlines jet over Ukraine highlights how businesses must protect themselves in an increasingly dangerous world, according BAE Systems' chief executive. Ian King, boss of the defence group, said the loss of the aircraft showed how systems originally produced for the military could now be needed by civil companies. [[...] Mr King said: "After events that have recently happened to commercial airliners [[I can see] a lot more of our technology being used." - The Telegraph

More than 4,000 households in England used the government's Help to Buy loan scheme to buy properties in June, the highest monthly total since the scheme began in 2013. The latest government data indicated more than 4,300 completions during the month, with more than 27,100 homes bought using the scheme. The figures refer to the first phase of Help to Buy, which offers buyers an interest-free loan worth up to 20% of the price of a new-build home. - The Guardian

Inheritance tax payments are closing in on pre-recession levels after climbing 8.6 per cent in just one year, official figures show. Total payments hit around £3.4billion in the last year as rising house prices saw thousands more middle class families snared by the £325,000 threshold. - The Daily Mail

The Telegraph
A landmark day for British Airways owner International Airlines Group, which has seen its Spanish airline Iberia finally fly back into profit following two years of restructuring, including thousands of job cuts. IAG says Iberia made a €16m operating profit in the second quarter of the year, following years of losses after the 2011 tie-up between BA and the airline.

Willie Walsh, IAG's chief executive, says the company's three airlines - BA, Iberia and the Spanish carrier Vueling - are seeing their best trading since 2007, and have pushed the parent company to a €96m first half profit, against a €503m loss last year.

New William Hill boss James Henderson takes over from long-time boss Ralph Topping today, and has used the occasion to announce that the company was one of the winner's from this summer's World Cup. Britain's biggest bookmaker returned to profit growth in the second quarter of the year, with World Cup betting increasing by 80pc on the last tournament in 2010, and online gambling up 211pc.

However, the tournament was a bright spot in a first half of 2014 that saw a 15pc decline in pre-tax profits, which William Hill has put down to "less favourable sporting results". The group says it is successfully moving towards digital channels, with over half of its operating profits coming from online and mobile channels as high street operations face an increasing tax burden.

Royal Bank of Scotland unexpectedly announced a near-doubling in profits ahead of schedule last week, but the bank has used its full results announcement this morning to once again warn on Scottish independence. The state-owned bank says a vote in favour of independence would be "likely to significantly impact the group's credit ratings". RBS adds that the aftermath of a yes vote would have a "material adverse effect on the group's business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects".

Meanwhile, Direct Line, sold off by RBS over the last two years, says cost cuts have led to an 8pc rise in first half profit. Insurance giant Axasays earnings in the UK and Ireland are up 33pc in the first half of the year.

Ofcom, the telecoms regulator, has watered down proposed increases in fees mobile phone networks pay to use the airwaves. And Smith & Nephew, the medical technology giant, has posted a 3pc rise in second-quarter revenues to $1.15bn due to emerging market growth.

The health of the UK's manufacturing sector is in focus this morning, with the Markit/CIPS PMI figures for July out at 09.30. Analysts are expecting a slight slowdown in growth, although the sector is still believed to be expanding strongly.

Equivalent figures for the eurozone are out at 09.00 - France'snumbers in particular have been dreary recently - while China'smanufacturing sector is expanding at the fastest rate for two years, according to official statistics.

This afternoon, US unemployment figures for July will be released.June's figures blew away expectations, with jobless numbers falling to a six-year-low of 6.1pc. The question for traders is whether this momentum has continued, or if June simply saw a sharp snapback after a cold start to the year. The numbers will be out at 13.30.

Join the Telegraph's Questor Editor John Ficenec and markets reporter Ben Martin at 08.30 this morning for our markets webchat, discussing all the key issues affecting this morning's trading.  
Somewhere between a punt and a hunch
Matthew Freud describes his £5m stake in PR company Huntsworth
The total amount of money Lloyds has now set aside to cover PPI claims
Graham Ruddick has written an open letter to new Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis, saying he must listen to Aldi and Lidl shoppers.
Ambrose Evans-Pritchard reports that Argentina has threatened to take the US to the International Court of Justice for judicial malpractice following its second default in 12 years.
Emily Gosden writes that energy regulator Ofgem is confusing consumers by publishing inaccurately high estimates of company profits, Centrica has claimed.
The Financial Times (£): Sberbank, Russia’s largest lender, will beblocked from accessing Europe’s medium- and long-term money marketsas the EU confirmed wide-ranging sanctions against Russia. 
The Mail: Two thirds of Britons aspire to buy a larger house as the average size of homes continue to decrease - but only about third believe they will actually manage to move up the ladder, a survey shows.
The Guardian: Eurozone inflation fell to its lowest level in almost five years in July, bringing the threat of a dangerous deflationary spiral closer.
The FTSE 100 lost 43.33 points to 6,730.11.
In the US, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 317.06 points to 16,563.30, while the S&P 500 dropped 39.38 points to 1,930.69.
We believe the concerns are overdone and do not expect the service to have a significant impact on Rightmove
UBS reassured investors that Agents' Mutual, a new rival to Rightmove, was not a major threat.
Brent crude oil fell 0.49pc to $106.02 a barrel. Gold dropped 0.71pc to $1,285 an ounce. More here.
Sterling fell 0.16 cents against the euro to €1.2618 and dropped 0.20 cents against the dollar to $1.6883. More here.

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Top Stories | Friday , 01 Aug 2014

Hecla eyes zinc to buoy bottom line

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