Economy Briefs: Stocks fall as economy slows across Asia

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U.S. stocks fell Monday as evidence mounted that the global economic slowdown is dragging on Asia.

The losses broke the longest winning streak for the Standard & Poor’s 500 index since December 2010. The index had risen for six straight days.

Japan’s economy grew in the second quarter at a 1.4 percent annual rate, slower than many analysts expected. Last week, China released dismal figures on retail sales and exports in July.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 38.52 points at 13,169.43. The S&P 500 declined 1.76 to 1,404.11. The Dow is still up 7.8 percent for the year, and the S&P is up 11.7 percent.

AGRICULTURE

Meat producers to get government drought aid

The government will buy up to $170 million worth of pork, lamb, chicken and catfish to help drought-stricken farmers, the White House said Monday as President Obama brought his re-election campaign to rural voters in Iowa.

The purchase for food banks and other federal food nutrition programs is expected to help producers struggling with the high cost of feed during the worst drought in a quarter-century.

COURTS

Judge tentatively OKs $40M shoe settlement

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A federal judge on Monday tentatively approved a $40 million settlement between Skechers USA Inc. and consumers who bought the toning shoes after ads made unfounded claims that the footwear would help people lose weight and strengthen muscles.

An undetermined number of people will be able to get a maximum repayment for their purchases — up to $80 per pair of Shape-Ups, $84 per pair of Resistance Runner shoes, up to $54 per pair of Podded Sole Shoes and $40 per pair for Tone-Ups.

The settlement covers more than 70 lawsuits from across the country. The lawsuits were consolidated in federal court in Louisville. Skechers denied the allegations but said it settled to avoid long litigation

TELECOMMUNICATIONS

Phone companies lose broadband subscribers

NEW YORK — Phone companies are losing the high-speed Internet game. In the second quarter, the land-line phone industry lost broadband subscribers for the first time, as cable companies continued to pile on new household and small-business customers, thanks to the higher speeds they offer in most areas.

Phone lines, designed to carry conversations, and often decades old, are poorly suited to carry Internet signals compared with the heavily shielded cables that carry TV signals. That means cable companies find it much easier and cheaper to provide fast Internet service compared with the digital subscriber lines, or DSL, that phone companies provide in most areas.

Cable providers now offer download speeds of 100 megabits per second in many areas, about 20 times faster than DSL.

The country’s largest Internet service provider is cable company Comcast Corp., with 18.7 million, followed by AT&T, with 16.4 million.

ECONOMY

FedEx plans buyouts in cost-cutting effort

NEW YORK — FedEx will soon begin offering buyouts to U.S. employees in an effort to cut costs in the face of a weakening global economy.

The world’s second-largest package delivery company hinted at cutbacks earlier this summer when it said that slowing economic growth would crimp its earnings well into next year. It already has removed some aircraft from its fleet of more than 600 to account for a loss of demand.

Second-quarter results released in late July by larger rival United Parcel Service Inc. suggested that the global economic slowdown may be even worse than FedEx anticipated.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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