- Associated Press - Thursday, August 14, 2014

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Eurozone recovery grinds to halt amid Ukraine fear

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) - After four quarters of meager growth, the fragile economic recovery in the 18-country eurozone creaked to a halt in the second quarter.

Growth was zero. After only 0.2 percent in the first quarter.

Now who will get out and push? The European Central Bank, with a further monetary stimulus? Or governments in France and Italy, which have dragged their heels in making their economies more business-friendly?

Either or both could help. Especially if the Ukraine crisis mushrooms with a Russian invasion that would scare off business investment even more - and extend one bad quarter into an outright recession.

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Stores have a solid start to back-to-school season

NEW YORK (AP) - The back-to-school shopping season is off to a promising start, but retailers may be sacrificing profit for sales.

The National Retail Federation expects the average family with school-aged children to spend $669.28 for back-to-school items, up 5 percent from last year. That would be the second-highest amount since the industry trade group started tracking spending in 2004.

But major retailers like Wal-Mart and Macy’s are discounting merchandise and increasing spending to upgrade their stores and websites just to grab the attention of U.S. shoppers during the second-biggest shopping period of the year. All that discounting and investing has worked to start the season off strong, they say, but it also hurts their bottom lines.

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Wal-Mart cuts profit outlook as sales stay sluggish, costs mount

BENTONVILLE, Ark. (AP) - Wal-Mart Stores Inc. cut its annual profit outlook on Thursday amid sluggish sales, higher-than-expected health care costs and the need to invest more in its e-commerce operations.

The world’s largest retailer eked out a 0.6 percent increase in second-quarter profit, dragged down by a weak U.S. business.

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