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China factory index at 18-month high in July

POSTED BY: Associated Press
Wednesday, July 23, 2014 - 10:41 PM

HONG KONG (AP) — A survey shows China's factory activity rose in July to its highest level in 18 months, a sign that mini-stimulus measures to shore up the world's No. 2 economy have taken hold.

The preliminary HSBC purchasing managers' index released Thursday rose to 52.0 in July from 50.7 in June.

The index uses a 100-point scale on which numbers below 50 indicate contraction.

The report said overall new orders and new export orders in China's giant manufacturing industry rose faster in July than the month before.

UN aid chief says Gaza ceasefire is vital

POSTED BY: Associated Press
Wednesday, July 23, 2014 - 10:21 PM

TOKYO (AP) — The U.N.'s humanitarian chief said Thursday that a ceasefire to stop the violence in Gaza is vital because of the deteriorating situation.

Valerie Amos, the undersecretary general for humanitarian affairs, said people are running out of food and more than 100,000 are sheltering in U.N. schools.

South Korea unveils stimulus after ferry sinking

POSTED BY: Associated Press
Wednesday, July 23, 2014 - 09:31 PM

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea's government unveiled stimulus plans Thursday after the shock of a deadly ferry sinking slowed economic growth to the lowest level in three quarters.

The finance ministry said government spending would increase by 11.7 trillion won ($11.4 billion). Another 29 trillion won would be available to small- and medium-sized companies through loans and other financial support.

To stimulate the real estate market, the government will ease mortgage rules that limit household loans for home buyers.

Japan trade deficit at record $75B in first half

POSTED BY: Associated Press
Wednesday, July 23, 2014 - 09:23 PM

TOKYO (AP) — Japan's trade deficit surged to a record 7.6 trillion yen ($74.9 billion) in the first half of the year as exports failed to keep pace with surging imports, the Finance Ministry reported Thursday.

Japan's bulging import bill was partly due to a jump in demand as businesses and consumers stepped up purchases ahead of an April 1 increase in the sales tax to 8 percent from 5 percent.

Venezuelan network Telesur expands into English

POSTED BY: Associated Press
Wednesday, July 23, 2014 - 07:39 PM

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — The Spanish-language television network started by the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez as a vehicle for promoting in Latin America his leftist brand of political change will now reach audiences in English.

Argentina president says country will not default

POSTED BY: Associated Press
Wednesday, July 23, 2014 - 07:11 PM

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Argentina's president said Wednesday that her country will not go into default because it has been paying debts to bondholders on time.

The government is in negotiations to resolve a dispute with creditors over $1.5 billion in unpaid debts that could lead Argentina to its second default in 13 years.

Patriotic parade at big Peru psychiatric hospital

POSTED BY: Associated Press
Wednesday, July 23, 2014 - 06:42 PM

LIMA, Peru (AP) — Patients and staff at Peru's largest psychiatric hospital put on a patriotic parade at the facility Wednesday to celebrate the 193rd anniversary of the country's independence from Spain.

About 200 of them donned costumes to portray soldiers, noted Peruvians, Incas and the rebels who drove out Spanish forces in 1821.

Fans hop aboard exclusive train to Comic-Con

POSTED BY: Associated Press
Wednesday, July 23, 2014 - 06:13 PM

ABOARD THE SILVER SPLENDOR (AP) — For a lucky fellowship of fans, Comic-Con is beginning early on a private train car trekking to the pop-culture convention.

The fan-centric social networking site Wikia picked 30 users to board a private vintage carriage transformed into the Wikia Fan Express, a special expedition Wednesday from Los Angeles to San Diego that included an assortment of unique on-board entertainment, including special sneak peeks and Q&A sessions.

Cuba, US begin 5-game exhibition baseball series

POSTED BY: Associated Press
Wednesday, July 23, 2014 - 06:13 PM

HAVANA (AP) — Cuba is hoping to use a five-game baseball exhibition against a team of U.S. college players to bounce back from recent disappointing international results in a sport that's considered the island's national pastime.

The series that started Wednesday in Cuba is the third time Cuban and U.S. baseball squads have met since 2012, when games resumed after being discontinued in 1996.

Cuba long dominated amateur baseball, winning Olympic gold in 1992, 1996 and 2004.

New Zealand raises interest rate to 3.5 percent

POSTED BY: Associated Press
Wednesday, July 23, 2014 - 05:34 PM

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand on Thursday raised its benchmark interest rate to 3.5 percent but signaled it was pausing its program of rate hikes.

The announcement prompted a sharp drop in the New Zealand dollar, which was trading down nearly 1 percent at $0.8625.

New Zealand has been going it alone among developed nations this year by embarking on interest-rate tightening. Thursday marked the central bank's fourth successive hike of 0.25 percent.

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