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Business Highlights

The Associated Press

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Federal Reserve projects further gradual hikes in key rate

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Federal Reserve says that it expects low unemployment and rising inflation will keep it on track to raise interest rates at a gradual pace over the next two years. By late 2019, the Fed says its key policy rate should be at a level that will be slightly restrictive for growth.

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Papa John's is pulling founder's image from its marketing

NEW YORK (AP) -- Papa John's is pulling founder John Schnatter's image from marketing materials following reports he used a racial slur. The company confirms the decision to remove Schnatter as the marketing face of Papa John's and says the details are still being worked out. Schnatter remains on the board and owns nearly 30 percent of the company.

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JPMorgan's profits rise 18 percent, helped by lower taxes

NEW YORK (AP) -- JPMorgan Chase says second-quarter profits rose by 18 percent from a year ago, as the bank continues to benefit from higher interest rates and a lower tax bill following last year's passage of President Donald Trump's tax law. Per-share earnings of $2.29 topped analysts' estimates. CEO Jamie Dimon said bank clients are concerned about the U.S. trade dispute with China but it hasn't impacted their investment decisions.

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Wells Fargo 2Q earnings fall as impact of scandals linger

NEW YORK (AP) -- Wells Fargo says second-quarter earnings fell to $5.19 billion from $5.86 billion a year ago. The bank, based in San Francisco, said it had earnings of 98 cents per share, or $1.08 per share excluding a one-time tax expense. The result was below analysts' expectations.

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Citigroup 2Q earnings rise 16 pct; revenue growth is tepid

NEW YORK (AP) -- Citigroup's second-quarter profits jumped 16 percent from a year earlier, the bank said Friday, helped by a much lower tax bill and higher revenue earned on loans and interest. Citigroup said it earned $4.49 billion, up from $3.87 billion a year ago.

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Corporations market at World Cup despite absence of US

MOSCOW (AP) -- Business went on at the World Cup without the presence of the United States but the tournament's visibility decreased across America. Budweiser, Coca-Cola and Visa were among the sponsors with large operations in Russia for the tournament.

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Industrial park blast kills 19, hurts 12 in southwest China

BEIJING (AP) -- China's official Xinhua News Agency says a blast in an industrial park in a southwestern province has killed 19 people and injured 12. The agency says the Thursday evening blast occurred at an industrial park in the city of Yibin in Sichuan province. Xinhua is citing the county government as saying the fire was put out on Friday morning and the injured are in stable condition. Efforts have been made to improve work safety standards but deadly industrial accidents remain common in China.

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Commerce's Ross selling stock in response to ethics concerns

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross says he is selling off all his vast stock holdings after news reports raised questions about the timing of some of his stock transactions and he received a sharp reprimand from the chief federal ethics officer. But it's not clear whether the sales by Ross will be enough to satisfy ethics critics and end the episode. Before joining the Trump administration, Ross made billions investing in distressed companies.

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Dems: Novartis deal with Cohen sought access to policymakers

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A report released by a group of Senate Democrats says President Donald Trump's former personal lawyer was in frequent contact with top officials of the pharmaceutical giant Novartis as part of the lawyer's $1.2 million consulting deal with the Swiss-based company. The report also says the company expected lawyer Michael Cohen to provide access to Trump administration policymakers, though the report doesn't show any evidence that Cohen approached Trump or others in the administration.

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US agency urges automakers to speed up Takata recalls

DETROIT (AP) -- The U.S. government's road safety agency is urging automakers to speed up replacement of potentially dangerous Takata air bag inflators. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says in a statement that it has met with 19 affected companies, urging them to accelerate the recalls and to post recall plans on their websites.

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Despite some wobbles, stocks end the week with more gains

NEW YORK (AP) -- U.S. stocks wrap up another solid week with gains for industrial companies, retailers and energy companies. The market shook off an early loss, but big banks including Wells Fargo and Citigroup dipped after their second-quarter results disappointed investors. AT&T fell after the Department of Justice asked a court to overturn its purchase of Time Warner.

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The S&P 500 index edged up 3.02 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,801.31. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 94.52 points, or 0.4 percent, to 25,019.41. The Nasdaq composite rose 2.06 points to 7,825.98. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks fell 3.20 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,687.08.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose 1 percent to $71.01 a barrel in New York while Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 1.4 percent to $75.33 per barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline rose 1.7 percent to $2.11 a gallon. Heating oil added 0.5 percent to $2.13 a gallon. Natural gas fell 1.6 percent to $2.75 per 1,000 cubic feet.