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Associated Press

Posted on September 2, 2013 at 5:01 PM

Updated Monday, Sep 2 at 5:01 PM

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Why gold is making a comeback

Gold is having a summer revival.

The price of gold touched $1,420 an ounce this week, a three-and-a-half month high, as escalating tensions in the Middle East, volatile currency markets and renewed demand for jewelry in China and India pushed prices higher.

Gold has surged 15 percent since sinking to $1,212 an ounce, its lowest level in almost three years, on June 27. A gain of 20 percent or more would put the metal back in a bull market.

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US consumer spending up weak 0.1 percent in July

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. consumers barely increased their spending in July as their income grew more slowly, held back in part by steep government spending cuts that reduced federal workers' salaries. The tepid gains suggest economic growth is off to a weak start in the July-September quarter.

The Commerce Department said Friday that consumer spending rose just 0.1 percent in July from the previous month. That's slower than June's 0.6 percent increase. Consumers cut their spending on long-lasting manufactured goods, such as cars and appliances. Spending on services was unchanged.

Income rose 0.1 percent in July following a 0.3 percent June gain. Overall wages and salaries tumbled $21.8 billion from June — a third of the decline came from forced furloughs of federal workers.

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Weighing Yellen vs. Summers for Federal Reserve

WASHINGTON (AP) — Lawrence Summers is the White House insider with a direct line to President Barack Obama. Janet Yellen is the Federal Reserve veteran with a long list of congressional patrons.

The two Ivy League-trained economists have emerged as leading contenders to replace Ben Bernanke as chairman of the Fed, the nation's central bank. Obama could announce his nominee in the coming weeks.

As presidential nominations go, the top Fed post ranks higher than Cabinet secretaries without the longevity of Supreme Court justices. Fed chairmen serve four-year terms but their stints don't coincide with presidential terms and the Fed's independence is jealously guarded.

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Economy is being eclipsed as top campaign issue

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama still calls shoring up the middle class his "No. 1 priority," but recent events overseas and at home are overshadowing the U.S. economy as a political issue.

The civil war in Syria and alleged use by Damascus of chemical weapons, political turmoil in Egypt and revelations about the extent of the National Security Agency's surveillance programs are complicating Obama's efforts to keep the focus on the economy.

And while the slow and uneven recovery is now 4 years old, its advance could be threatened by U.S.-led airstrikes against targets in Syria that might send already rising oil prices soaring.

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Zurich to look at 'undue pressure' on CFO

GENEVA (AP) — After the apparent suicide of its chief financial officer and the sudden resignation of its chairman in response, Zurich Insurance Group has launched an investigation into their working relationship.

Zurich's acting chairman, Tom de Swaan, said Friday that the company's board would look into the possibility of "undue pressure" placed upon Pierre Wauthier, who was found dead Monday and left a note describing his dealings with former chairman Josef Ackermann.

Ackermann said he resigned abruptly on Thursday to avoid any damage to Zurich's reputation, citing "unfounded" allegations by Wauthier's family that he bore some responsibility for the former CFO's death.

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Tooth Fairy inflation: Price of a tooth nears $4

NEW YORK (AP) — Days of finding a quarter under your pillow are long gone. The Tooth Fairy no longer leaves loose change.

Kids this year are getting an average of $3.70 per lost tooth, a 23 percent jump over last year's rate of $3. And that's a 42 percent spike from the $2.60 per tooth that the Tooth Fairy gave in 2011, according to a new survey by payment processor Visa Inc., released Friday with an update of the company's Tooth Fairy personal finance app.

Part of the reason for the sharp rise: Parents don't want their kids to be the ones at the playground who received the lowest amount.

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APNewsBreak: US: Iran can't access much oil income

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. has concluded that nearly half of Iran's monthly earnings from crude oil exports are accumulating in accounts overseas because of sanctions that restrict Tehran's access to the money.

The estimates, provided to The Associated Press by a senior U.S. official and never released before, are the latest indication that new sanctions imposed in February are deepening Iran's economic distress and making it increasingly difficult to access billions of dollars in vital oil revenues. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of sanctions policy.

The U.S. hopes the pressure will force Iran to compromise on its nuclear program, which the West suspects is aimed at making a weapon. Iran insists it is for peaceful purposes only and has not budged on demands to halt uranium enrichment, a process that can be used to make fuel for energy production or for a nuclear weapon.

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Apple offers iPhone trade-in ahead of unveiling

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Excited about the new iPhone expected to be unveiled Sept. 10? Apple will now join others in allowing you to trade in your old model.

The company said starting Friday that it would give customers credit for functioning older models at Apple Stores. The credit can be used toward the purchase of a new iPhone, which will be activated in the store.

It didn't say how much older phones would be worth. But other brokers such as Gazelle.com offer anywhere from $10 for a working iPhone 3G to $350 for an iPhone 5 that is in pristine condition.

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China fines brokerage $85 million for stock market chaos

BEIJING (AP) — One of China's biggest securities firms was fined a record $85 million on Friday and its former CEO was banned from the industry after computerized trading mistakes caused wild swings in Chinese stock prices two weeks ago.

A multibillion-dollar avalanche of buy orders from Everbright Securities on Aug. 16 propelled China's main market index up 6.5 percent before it fell back and ended the day down. Regulators blamed a design flaw in Everbright's computerized trading system.

In addition to the 523 million yuan ($85 million) fine, the highest ever imposed on a Chinese brokerage, regulators will seize 87.2 million yuan ($14 million) in improper trading profits, state media reported, citing China's market regulator.

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Steady European jobless rate, business optimism up

BRUSSELS (AP) — The number of jobless in Europe fell slightly in July and business optimism rose, according to official data released Friday, adding to the tentative signs that the region's economy is staging a modest comeback.

Europe's statistics office said Friday the number of unemployed in the eurozone was down by 15,000 to 19.23 million, marking the second consecutive fall since April 2011. The jobless rate remained at a record of high of 12.1 percent.

Meanwhile, an index of European business sentiment rose again on the month while the monthly inflation rate for the 17 nations using the euro decreased.

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial fell 30.64 points, or 0.2 percent, to close at 14,810.31, and the Nasdaq composite dropped 30.43 points, or 0.8 percent, to 3,589.87. The Standard & Poor's 500 index dropped 5.20 points, or 0.3 percent, to close at 1,632.97.

Benchmark oil for October delivery fell $1.15, or 1.1 percent, to $107.65 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange Friday. Brent crude, the benchmark for international crudes, was down 95 cents to $114.10 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

Wholesale gasoline was down 4.1 cents to $2.89 per gallon. Heating oil lost 5.2 cents to $3.14 per gallon. Natural gas dropped 3.7 cents to $3.58 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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