Stocks finish little changed
Stocks ended little changed Wednesday as meeting minutes from the Federal Reserve raised concerns about the economy after Intel's earnings strength renewed optimism about corporate results.
The Dow Jones industrial average gained about 4 points to close at 10,366. The S&P 500 index lost less than one point, while the Nasdaq composite rose nearly 8 points, or 0.3 percent.
Stocks staged a modest rally early in the session on optimism about second-quarter corporate profits. But the advance faded after the central bank released minutes from its June policy meeting showing that Fed officials have a more pessimistic view of the economy, stoking fears about a slowdown in the second half of the year.
Oil prices hit highest level in 2 months, near $80
Oil prices continue to swing in the mid- to upper-$70s this week as investors digest the first wave of quarterly corporate results, and mixed economic and supply data.
A strong outlook for global crude demand pushed prices up three percent Tuesday, and oil continued to climb slightly higher Wednesday following a better-than-expected weekly government inventory report.
Prices have been trading between $70 and $80 a barrel since May. Last week, they posted their biggest weekly gain since May, jumping 5.5 percent to hit $76.09.
But on Monday prices retreated ahead of the start of earnings season and the release of a slew of economic reports. However, prices spiked again on Tuesday and Wednesday, pushing them back to two-month highs.
Treasury prices rose Wednesday after a disappointing U.S. retail sales report, and a moderately strong auction of $13 billion in long bonds.
The benchmark 10-year note was up 22/32 to 103-17/32 and its yield fell to 3.05 percent. Bond prices and yields move in opposite directions.
The 2-year note edged up 4/32 to 100-1/32 with a yield of 0.61 percent, while the 30-year bond added 1-13/32 to 106 and yielded 4.01 percent.
The Commerce department released a report earlier Wednesday that said retail sales fell for the second straight month in June. Total retail sales fell 0.5% to $360.2 billion last month.
Economists surveyed by Briefing.com expected that sales would slip by only 0.2 percent. The downbeat data pushed investors toward the safe haven of bonds, pulling prices higher - even though bond prices often fall ahead of auctions.
CNNMoney.com reporters Julianne Pepitone, Ben Rooney and Hibah Yousuf contributed to this report.
The five most popular CNN.com stories during the last 24 hours, according to Newspulse.
Texas mayor, daughter die in murder-suicide: Police in a Dallas, Texas, suburb indicated Wednesday that the town's mayor likely killed her daughter before turning the weapon on herself.
BP: First steps of test on oil well begin: BP is proceeding with a critical test of its crippled well in the Gulf of Mexico - a test that could show whether an end finally is in sight to the environmental disaster that's been unfolding for nearly three months.
The secrets of a 72-year marriage from the 'Original Grandparents': Internet sensations Harry and Barbara Cooper - 98 and 93, respectively - are telling everyone how their marriage has lasted seven decades.
Oscar winners Cruz, Bardem marry: Spanish actors Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz tied the knot in the Bahamas earlier this month, the latter's publicist says.
Got an iPhone 4? You'll need duct tape: Apple's iPhone 4 has a design flaw that's best fixed with a sliver of duct tape, according to Consumer Reports.
BP is proceeding with a critical test of its crippled well in the Gulf of Mexico - a test that could show whether an end finally is in sight to the environmental disaster that's been unfolding for nearly three months.
The U.S. government told BP Tuesday to proceed with an "integrity" test on the well in the Gulf of Mexico, and BP began the process of shutting off valves on its new capping stack, to see whether the well can hold the pressure.
It's hoped the tests will show whether the well can be contained, either by closing the 30-foot, 75-ton cap stack or siphoning off oil to the surface.
That would signal a beginning of an end to the catastrophe that began when the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded April 20, killing 11 workers and launching the relentless oil spill. But even if the well is contained, the cleanup could take years.
Mexican President Felipe Calderon has announced the resignation of Interior Secretary Fernando Gomez Mont, who oversaw security efforts against drug cartels in Mexico.
Read more on CNN.com.
The European Union says it has reinforced security at the training base it runs in Uganda for Somali soldiers, in the wake of the Kampala terrorist attacks Sunday.
An EU military training team is putting a total of 911 Somali recruits through their paces at a camp in Bihanga, in the hills of south-west Uganda. A Portuguese squad is training the recruits to fight in built-up areas, while French and Spanish trainers are developing an officer corps.
A European official told CNN that while security at the base was being tightened, the attacks in Kampala would not affect the program. She said the attacks – in which 74 people were killed – underlined the need for the training, so that a new Somali army could confront Islamic extremists. The al Qaeda affiliate Shabaab, which is fighting to overthrow the Transitional Federal Government in Somalia, claimed responsibility for the bomb attacks. FULL POST
A patient pleaded with a Food and Drug Administration panel to keep the diabetes drug Avandia on the market as a second day of hearings on the safety of the medication got under way Wednesday.
The 33-member advisory committee had heard Tuesday from researchers who blasted a safety study funded and organized by the drug's manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline, as well as company scientists who defended the product against accusations that Avandia increases the risk of heart attack or stroke in its users.
The committee is expected to vote on whether to recommend yanking the drug from the market Wednesday afternoon.
Debate was under way Wednesday in Argentina's Senate on a same-sex marriage bill that already has passed the lower chamber of Congress. A vote was expected later Wednesday.
The bill would give same-sex couples equal marriage rights, including the ability to adopt children.
Addressing claims that church leaders have been lobbying lawmakers about the proposal, Sen. Miguel Angel Pichetto told the state-run Telam news agency that he had not been pressured.
"There is some pressure in some provinces where the church plays a prominent role, but such is democracy," he said.
As the recession continues to play a monumental role in the mid-term election battle, CNN has learned that President Barack Obama quietly met with billionaire Warren Buffett for an hour-long meeting at the White House Wednesday, according to senior officials familiar with the chat.
The 11:15 a.m. meeting was not listed on Obama's public schedule, the officials said, but the White House released a photograph of the encounter after it had ended.
In addition to the economic crisis, the two men discussed energy reform and other issues, according to the officials.
The Catholic Church Thursday will release its new rules to try to prevent clergy from abusing children, a source close to the Vatican told CNN.
They will be aimed more at firming up existing practices than announcing new rules, said the source, who asked not to be named because they were talking about the regulations before they are made public.
The Vatican will add the possession of child pornography to the list of most serious crimes, declare the abuse of any mentally retarded person to be as bad as the abuse of children, and double the statute of limitations on the Vatican's own prosecution of suspected abuse.
[Updated at 2:18 p.m.] Police in Newark said during a briefing that there was no bomb found in a vehicle parked near a Newark overpass.
Officials did say however they were still looking for the person who owned the car - to see if it was a hoax that attempted to bring police to the scene.
[Posted at 12:42 p.m.] A "possible explosive device" is being investigated in a Dodge vehicle parked near a railroad overpass, Newark Police Director Garry McCarthy tells CNN’s Allan Chernoff.
McCarthy told CNN that there are two gas containers and wires in the vehicle, located just off McCarter Highway in Newark, New Jersey. He stressed there are wires in the vehicle, but he is not saying the containers are "wired."
Two robots are at the scene as part of the bomb squad.
Train service has not been affected, New Jersey Transit spokesman Dan Stessel told CNN.
The Arabic news network al Arabiya has broadcast part of a video made by Faisal Shahzad, the Pakistani-American convicted of trying to blow up a vehicle packed with cylinders and other bomb-making material in New York’s Times Square.
Shahzad speaks in English, a gun at his side. His remarks include the following:
This attack against the United States will also be a revenge attack in the name of all the mujahideen, the fighters and the weak and the oppressed Muslims, like the martyrs Baitullah Mehsud and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and all Muslims and Arabs who were martyred, I will carry out this operation on their behalf, and I hope that this will bring joy to the hearts of Muslims". (Mehsud was the leader of the Pakistani Taliban and is thought to have been killed in a US drone attack in August 2009. al-Zarqawi was the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq.)
"Eight years have passed with the war in Afghanistan and you will see that the war of the Muslims have just begun, and we will show you how Islam will spread throughout the world."
"Jihad is one of the prominent pillars in Islam. People are praying and they pay the Zakat, they fast and they travel for pilgrimage. They may follow one portion of their faith and they may leave the other which is fighting in the name of God. And the interpretation of jihad is fighting the holy fight in the path of God, and it is the most noble act of sanctity in Islam and one of its main pillars. Jihad strengthened the basis of Islam and with Jihad, the word of God will rise and his religion will prevail. Staying away from Jihad will lead to destruction of the true faith and will place Muslims in a humiliating situation where their land gets robbed and they lose their power. "
More as the full video becomes available.
A Rwandan opposition politician was found dead Wednesday after he went missing the day before, according to an official with the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda.
Andre Kagwa Rwisereka, deputy-president of the party, was last seen alive by his sister Monday night, and was planning to make his way to the Rwandan capital of Kigali for a meeting Tuesday, said Frank Habineza, the party's president.
Rwisereka's car was found abandoned Tuesday, Habineza said. His car and house keys and driver's license were inside, but there was no sign of him.
Rwisereka's body was found by residents in a wetland area about 3 kilometers from the city of Butare and 2 kilometers from the National University of Rwanda, Habineza said. Rwisereka's head was nearly severed from his body, he said.
The city of Oakland, California, has laid off 80 police officers, citing budget concerns.
Negotiations between the city and the officers' union collapsed Tuesday over the issue of job security. According to the city's website, Oakland's final offer to the Oakland Police Officers Association guaranteed one year of no layoffs, with union members paying an escalating percentage of their city pension, topping out at 9 percent in January 2013.
A Seattle cartoonist who drew a cartoon about the Prophet Mohammed has been warned by the FBI about death threats made against her by a radical cleric with ties to al Qaeda, an FBI agent said Tuesday.
"She should be taken as a prime target of assassination," terror suspect Anwar al-Awlaki purportedly wrote about cartoonist Molly Norris in an English-language magazine called Inspire that claimed to be a publication of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
"This campaign is not a practice of freedom of speech, but is a nationwide mass movement of Americans" who are "going out of their way to offend Muslims worldwide," the article signed by al-Awlaki continued. Al-Awlaki is himself being sought in Yemen for his alleged role as a planner of the failed bombing of a Detroit-bound passenger plane on Christmas Day last year.
Norris has been advised to take precautions to ensure her safety, said FBI Special Agent Marty Prewett. FULL POST
"This talk is a little bit insane," confided Peter Molyneux, the head of the European games division of Microsoft, as he prepared to demo a game called "Milo" at the TED Global conference in Oxford on Tuesday.
He asked audience members to cross their fingers as they waited to see if the live demo would work.
"Milo" is a story-telling game about a little boy who's unhappy because his family has moved from London to New England and his parents are too busy to listen to what's on his mind. Molyneux said his goal with the game, which is still under development, is to recreate the feeling he had as a 4-year-old child when his father told him a story about a robot.
The idea, he said, is to create a real, living boy in a computer.
Three Yemen security force members and two militants were killed in strikes on separate security buildings in the southern region of the Arab nation Wednesday, an official who is authorized to talk to the media confirmed to CNN.
The attacks took place in the Abyan province as security forces were lining up for morning marches, other local officials told CNN. One of the buildings is used by Yemeni intelligence and the other by police.
The Yemeni official, who asked not to be named, said more than 10 people on motorbikes staged the attacks, which also left more than a half dozen injured.
Walking past the AK-47s at the gates of Yemen's Central Security Forces seemed rather easy although it was not Yemeni soldiers asking questions - it was Americans in a Land Cruiser.
The anti-terror headquarters in Sana'a has a number of foreign guests these days, but until now they have never been caught on camera.
Beneath hats and behind sunglasses, U.S. and British military trainers put Yemeni security forces through their paces - teaching them how to fight al Qaeda.
At the training grounds in the mountains surrounding the ancient city, they were finishing up classes for the day. FULL POST
Ground zero mosque – Those for and against a proposed mosque near ground zero butted heads Tuesday night during a passionate three-hour hearing of New York's Landmarks Preservation Commission. Officially, the hearing was for testimony on whether a more than century-old building near ground zero is worth preserving. Supporters of the landmark status are opposed to a project to build a mosque and community center at the site where Islamist hijackers destroyed the World Trade Center twin towers on September 11, 2001. The commission is expected to vote on whether to grant the building landmark status in August.
Gulf oil disaster – BP was set to continue reviewing testing procedures Wednesday, a day after delaying crucial "integrity tests" on a new stacking cap placed on its ruptured oil well in the Gulf of Mexico. The oil giant had expected the tests – to check pressure in the well and determine if it can be sealed once and for all – to get under way Tuesday afternoon. But Tuesday night, officials announced that additional analysis of the well testing procedure was needed.
The actor known for portraying the scheming Texas oil baron J.R. Ewing in the classic prime-time soap opera “Dallas” has become a solar energy pitchman.
The Oregonian newspaper reports that Hagman, 78, has recorded commercials for SolarWorld, a German manufacturer of solar cells in Hillsboro, Oregon. The company is using a slogan that parodies Sarah Palin’s famous “Drill, baby, drill” declaration from the 2008 presidential campaign. "'Shine, baby, shine' is an inexhaustible source of energy," said Hagman, who boasts what may be the country’s largest residential solar energy system at his home north of Los Angeles, California. "When affordable oil gives out, we're in real trouble - I mean the collapse of civilization, within 15 to 20 years," he said.
Hagman told the newspaper that his push for solar energy solutions is not only about finding alternatives to fossil fuels. "We've got a work force that's looking for jobs," he said. "We've got a long line of people returning from wars."