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Economy Briefs: European group says Beijing should curb state industry

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BEIJING — A European business group appealed to China on Thursday to curb state industry as a new generation of Communist Party leaders takes power, adding to warnings the government-dominated economy needs sweeping reforms to keep growth high.

"Incremental and piecemeal reforms must give way to urgent and comprehensive reform," the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China said in a report. "These changes are now urgently required not only for China, but also for global economic growth."

The World Bank and other government advisers say China needs to rein in state companies and promote free-market competition to keep the world's second-largest economy growing strongly. They say without that, Chinese income growth could stall.

The decline in China's growth to a three-year low of 7.6 percent in the second quarter prompted calls for faster change. Analysts expect no major steps until after new party leaders are installed in a once-a-decade transition in October. Even then, the scale of possible changes is unclear.

"On the eve of a generational leadership transition, China holds a historic opportunity to raise its economy to a new level," the European Chamber said. "A prompt and fundamental shift is required to carry out necessary economic rebalancing."

TECHNOLOGY

Amazon unveils new, larger Kindle Fire models

SANTA MONICA, Calif. — Amazon.com Inc. unveiled four new Kindle Fire models Thursday, including ones with larger screens, as the online retailer steps up competition with Apple Inc. ahead of the holiday shopping season.

Amazon unveiled the larger Kindle Fire amid expectations of a smaller iPad from Apple.

The larger Fires will have screens that measure 8.6 inches diagonally, compared with 9.7 inches for the iPad. The original Fire had 7-inch screens. The speculation on the mini iPad is that it'll have a 7.85-inch screen. Apple isn't commenting, but it has an event scheduled next week, during which it is expected to at least announce a new iPhone.

Amazon is hoping to make a dent in a tablet computer market dominated by Apple's iPad. Amazon has been selling lower-priced tablets at thin, if any, profit margins to boost sales of digital items from its online store. As a result, it has been able to compete with the iPad on price.

The basic, 7-inch Fire model will cost $159, down from $199 for the original model. It will start shipping Sept. 14. The cheapest iPad costs $399 and the most recent models start at $499.

Amazon is coming out with a high-end version called Kindle Fire HD. It will have two Wi-Fi channels for faster transfers. That will be crucial for high-definition movies and other large files, CEO Jeff Bezos said.

NEW JERSEY

State moves to privatize lottery sales, marketing

TRENTON — Four companies interested in running portions of the New Jersey Lottery attended a mandatory information session in Trenton on Thursday, the first step toward privatization.

The state Treasury Department is looking to hand over sales and marketing operations to a private vendor next year. The state would retain ownership of the lottery under the plan, and state employees would continue to manage its operations, though those jobs are not guaranteed.

New Jersey has the eighth-largest state lottery in the country and employs 150 people, most of whom manage the network of lottery retailers.

The state thinks a privately managed lottery could bring in more revenue, which it shares with education and social services programs. Last year, the lottery grossed $2.8 billion in revenue, and $950 million of it was directed to state programs and institutions.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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