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Last Update: Friday, July 25, 2014 1:27 PM EDT

DURABLE GOODS
Orders for US durable goods up 0.7 percent in June

Orders for long-lasting manufactured goods rebounded in June after a May decline, helped by a recovery in demand in a key category that signals business investment plans.

The Commerce Department says that orders for durable goods increased 0.7 percent in June on a seasonally adjusted basis following a 1 percent decline in May.

A category viewed as a proxy for business investment plans rose a solid 1.4 percent, recovering after a revised 1.2 percent drop in May. It was the best showing since orders in this core capital goods category rose 4.7 percent in March.

The strength last month came from solid gains in demand for commercial aircraft and machinery. Economists expect economic activity will strengthen in the second half of the year, helped by stronger factory production.



HYUNDAI-INVESTIGATION
US agency probes Hyundai Sonata air bag problem

U.S. safety regulators are investigating whether an electrical problem can knock out the air bags on some older Hyundai Sonatas.

The probe announced Friday covers about 394,000 midsize cars from the 2006 through 2008 model years.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says it has received 83 complaints about the problem. The agency says a sensor inside the seat belt buckle might fail. This can cause the air bags to malfunction or not inflate if there's a crash.

The problem also can affect the mechanism that tightens the seat belts before a crash. The problem can happen in either the driver or passenger buckles. In most cases the air bag warning light came on.

Investigations can lead to recalls but none has been issued so far in this case.



CHILD TAX CREDIT
House votes to limit tax credit for immigrants

The House has passed a bill that would gradually increase the child tax credit and make it available to more families with higher incomes.

But millions of low-income families would lose the $1,000-a-child credit in 2018, when enhancements championed by President Barack Obama are set to expire.

The bill also aims to make a dent in illegal immigration by prohibiting people without Social Security numbers from claiming a portion of the credit reserved for low-income families.

The White House has threatened to veto the bill, saying it favors high-income taxpayers over the poor, while adding $90 billion to the budget deficit over the next decade.

House Republicans say the bill strengthens the tax credit by increasing it as inflation rises, and by making it available to more middle-income families.



BRITAIN-ECONOMY
UK economy grows 0.8 pct to reach pre-crisis size

Official figures show Britain's economy has surpassed its pre-recession size for the first time since the 2008 global banking crisis.

The Office for National Statistics says gross domestic product grew by 0.8 percent in the three months through June compared with the previous quarter. It grew 3.1 percent over the year, putting it 0.2 percent ahead of its pre-crisis peak in early 2008.

The global financial crisis triggered a deep downturn for the British economy. By mid-2009, GDP was more than 7 percent below its pre-recession level.

Treasury chief George Osborne said Friday's figures marked a "major milestone in our long-term economic plan."

Government critics say the recovery is not built on solid foundations and point out that per-capita GDP remains about 6 percent lower than before the crisis.



GERMANY-ECONOMY
German business confidence drops again

German business confidence is down for a third month in a row amid ongoing concerns about the economic impact of the crises in Ukraine and Iraq.

The closely-watched Ifo Institute survey fell to 108 points in July from 109.7 points in June. Economists had widely been expecting a slight rise over June's figure.

The institute said Friday that businesses' assessment of their current situation fell to 112.9 points from 114.8 the previous month, while their expectations for the future fell to 103.4 from 104.8.

The Ifo survey is based on monthly responses from about 7,000 companies.



RUSSIA-INTEREST RATES
Russia raises key rate amid Ukraine concerns

Russia's central bank has unexpectedly raised its key interest rate in a bid to stem inflation and support the currency as the country faces increasing economic pressure over its policies in Ukraine.

The bank said Friday it has lifted its one-week auction rate by 0.5 percentage points to 8 percent. The central bank cited "heightened geopolitical risks" that are likely to push down the Russian ruble, fueling consumer price inflation. Higher rates tend to support a currency but can hurt economic growth.

The rate has risen from 5.5 at the beginning of the year. That has helped support the ruble after a period of weakness, but growth is sliding.

The United States last week imposed tougher sanctions on Russia over its alleged unwillingness to help end the conflict in Ukraine.



EUROPE-FLIGHTS CANCELED-ISRAEL
Germany's Lufthansa to resume Tel Aviv flights

Germany's biggest airline, Lufthansa, says it and subsidiaries in other European countries will resume flights to Tel Aviv on Saturday after canceling operations for several days over safety concerns.

Lufthansa said Friday that it made the decision "on the basis of the most up-to-date information we have available and our own assessment of the local security situation."

It says flights will resume in stages starting Saturday morning. The decision also applies to subsidiaries Germanwings, Austrian Airlines, Swiss and Brussels Airlines.

The European Aviation Safety Agency on Thursday lifted a recommendation that airlines refrain from flying to Israel's main airport, which it made because of security concerns after a Hamas missile landed nearby this week. However, Lufthansa canceled flights scheduled for Friday.



AIR CANADA- ISRAEL FLIGHT
Air Canada plane told to circle Tel Aviv airport

An Air Canada flight had to circle Tel Aviv's airport for 10 minutes after air traffic control said the conditions needed to be confirmed as safe for landing.

Airline spokeswoman Isabelle Arthur said Friday Flight AC84 was advised to circle by Israeli Air Traffic Control shortly before 12 p.m. local time. She says the plane altered its course about 5 miles from Ben Gurion airport and landed 10 minutes later without incident. She did not say why.

Arthur says the return flight to Toronto departed Tel Aviv about two hours later. The airline plans to operate this evening's flight to Tel Aviv.

Flights by Air Canada and other airlines to Tel Aviv resumed Thursday after a suspension Tuesday following a Hamas rocket strike nearby.



CANADA-PANAMA-FLIGHT GROUNDED
US fighter jets escort plane back to Toronto

Two U.S. F16 fighter jets have escorted a plane bound for Panama back to Toronto's Pearson Airport. The airline says the plane turned around after a passenger threatened the aircraft.

A Sunwing Airlines spokeswoman says the plane left Toronto at 7 a.m. and turned around over West Virginia when an "agitated passenger directly threatened the aircraft." She didn't elaborate on the threat.

NORAD says the two fighter jets from Ohio flew with the plane out of U.S. airspace to Toronto as a "precaution."

The flight, carrying 183 passengers and six crew members, landed safely and no one was injured.

Police say a 25-year-old Canadian man has been arrested.



SPACE NEEDLE DRONE
Amazon worker piloted drone around Space Needle

Police say an out-of-town Amazon employee was the operator behind a drone that buzzed the Seattle Space Needle this week.

Witnesses told police they saw the craft fly back into a fifth-floor room in a nearby hotel. Police contacted the man who admitted operating the drone equipped with a camera Tuesday. He told authorities he wanted to try out the recently purchased craft.

Police had received reports the drone had crashed into the landmark of Seattle's 1962 World's Fair but they saw no evidence of that.

The man agreed not to fly his drone in public while in town.










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