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    FILE - In this July 17, 2015 file photo, Toyota Motor Corp.'s head of public relations Julie Hamp speaks during a press conference in Toyota, central Japan.  Hamp, Toyota's most senior female executive, has resigned following her arrest in Japan on suspicion of drug law violations, the automaker said Wednesday, July 1, 2015. (Tsutomu Agechi/Kyodo News via AP, File) JAPAN OUT, CREDIT MANDATORY
    Tsutomu Agechi/Kyodo News via APToyota Motor's former head of public relations, Julie Hamp.

    TOKYO -- Julie Hamp, Toyota's most senior female executive, has resigned following her arrest in Japan on suspicion of drug law violations, the automaker said Wednesday.

    Hamp tendered her resignation through her attorneys Tuesday, and Toyota Motor (TM) accepted it because of "the concerns and inconvenience that recent events have caused our stakeholders," the company said.

    Hamp, a 55-year-old American who was Toyota's newly appointed head of public relations, was arrested on June 18 on suspicion of importing oxycodone, a narcotic pain killer, into Japan. The drug is tightly controlled in the country.

    Toyota declined to disclose other details, noting the investigation was ongoing.

    Hamp, who previously worked for Toyota's U.S. operations, remains in custody and has not been available for comment. Police have said she denied she tried to bring in an illegal drug.

    She has not been formally charged. Japanese authorities can detain suspects without charge for up to 23 days. It is unclear when she might be released.

    Police raided Toyota's headquarters in Toyota City in central Japan and its offices in Tokyo and Nagoya five days after her arrest.

    Her appointment in April had been highlighted by Toyota as a step toward promoting diversity.

    Toyota reiterated Wednesday that it remains committed to diversity. But it acknowledged in a statement that it still needs to become "a truly global company," noting that Hamp's appointment had been a "big step" for the company.

    Toyota President Akio Toyoda has said the company should have helped Hamp more in settling into her job in Japan. He also has said he believes Hamp did not intend to break the law.

    Her arrest came as she was moving her things from the U.S., and police came to her Tokyo hotel after finding the drug in a package that was mailed to her. Japanese media said the drugs were hidden in a package containing jewelry.

    Although Japanese Toyota officials have been posted abroad, Hamp was the first senior foreign Toyota executive to be fully stationed in Japan.

    Foreigners have sometimes been detained in Japan for mailing or bringing in medicines they used at home. Such drugs may be banned in Japan or require special approval.

    Before joining Toyota in 2012, Hamp worked for PepsiCo (PEP) and General Motors (GM).

    She oversaw marketing and communications for the Toyota, Lexus and Scion brands in the U.S. before her latest promotion.


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    APDonald Trump and Miss Connecticut USA Erin Brady pose onstage after Brady won the 2013 Miss USA pageant.

    NEW YORK -- As fallout built over Donald Trump's remarks about immigrants from Mexico, the Republican presidential candidate answered back with legal action to match his trademark brashness, filing a $500 million lawsuit.

    The suit against Univision for dropping the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants claims breach of contract, defamation and First Amendment violations, and contends Univision turned on him because it supports Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton for president.

    In a statement, Univision called Trump's lawsuit "factually false and legally ridiculous." It said it will "continue to fight against Mr. Trump's ongoing efforts to run away from the derogatory comments he made."

    Univision, which moved last week to opt out of Trump's pageants because of the celebrity businessman's remarks earlier this month, is now far from alone.

    On Tuesday, a TV company backed by Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim said it was scrapping a project in development with him, and Mexico announced it won't be sending a contestant to the Miss Universe contest, which Slim partly owns.

    Ora TV became the latest company to cut ties with Trump over his presidential campaign kickoff speech in which he declared that some Mexican immigrants bring drugs and crime to the U.S. and are rapists.

    The company didn't give any details about the project it had been developing with Trump. Slim holds a majority interest in Ora TV, which produces shows including "Larry King Now" and "Off the Grid with Jesse Ventura."

    And a day after Televisa, the Mexican TV network that airs Miss Universe, said there would be no telecast for the next contest, Miss Mexico pageant director Lupita Jones said Mexico would boycott Miss Universe.

    Jones said Trump damaged the pageant and its tradition of convening countries for an event that showcases "friendship, unity and breaking down cultural barriers."

    NBC previously announced it wouldn't air the Miss USA or Miss Universe pageants.

    In a TV interview, Trump said contestants are suffering because of the backlash.

    "We have 50 of the most lovely women you've ever seen right now in Louisiana, and they have been abandoned by NBC and abandoned by Univision," Trump said on Fox News Channel's "The O'Reilly Factor," adding, "They have been crushed."

    Trump refused to back down from his campaign remarks, calling them "totally accurate."

    The Miss USA pageant, set to take place July 12 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, also lost both its co-hosts Tuesday, with "Dancing with the Stars" Cheryl Burke and MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts bowing out. The Miss USA pageant had no specifics on who might host in their place but said the proceedings would be live-streamed on its website.

    Last week, the hosts of the Univision simulcast, Roselyn Sanchez and Cristian de la Fuente, said they wouldn't take part in the Spanish-language telecast.

    Aftershocks spread into another lucrative part of Trump's empire, as the Ricky Martin Foundation announced it would withdraw a golf tournament from a Trump-owned property.

    The tournament, which draws professional players and big sponsors, raises money for child advocacy and scholarships for Latino students. It was to be held Aug. 21 at the Trump International Golf Club in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico. It has been moved to the Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Beach Resort.

    The PGA Tour, which runs a World Golf Championship at Trump Doral near Miami, and the PGA of America, declined to comment on whether Trump's remarks would impact their relationships with him.

    -Associated Press writers Mae Anderson, Katherine Corcoran, Doug Ferguson and Lynn Elber contributed to this report.


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    Students Scrambling as Remaining Corinthian Colleges Shut Down
    Al Seib/Los Angeles Times via Getty ImagesA banner advertising new courses hangs outside Everest College in Alhambra, Calif. Parent Corinthian Colleges closed the college in April.

    WASHINGTON -- Exotic dancers hired as admissions counselors. Recruiters told to seek out "impatient" individuals who have "few people in their lives who care about them." Military personnel still recovering from brain damage told to sign on the dotted line.

    In the two decades since trade schools started popping up on U.S. stock exchanges to maximize profits, allegations of misconduct have been rampant. On Wednesday, new rules go into effect for any school with a career-training program. Graduates have to be able to earn enough money to repay their student loans, or a school risks losing access to financial aid. In general, annual loan payments shouldn't exceed 20 percent of a graduate's discretionary income or 8 percent of total earnings.

    It's a modest step, consumer advocates say, that will probably succeed in shutting down the most obviously fraudulent programs, often criminal justice and medical training programs that can cost as much as $75,000 but aren't sought after by employers. Still, the government's new definition for "gainful employment" is unlikely to change what's become a complicated, enduring problem in the U.S.

    Too many poor kids, mostly minorities, are reaching adulthood with little education, no prospect of attending a four-year traditional college and not enough time, money or knowhow to figure out an alternative path through a local community college. What these students do have is eligibility for government-backed student loans and grants, making them targets for predatory lending schemes that look much like tactics used by subprime lenders during the housing crisis.

    Meanwhile, there remains little appetite in Congress and the White House to wade into the business of deciding which diplomas and schools are worthwhile. House and Senate Republicans have proposed blocking enforcement of the regulations, while the White House said it's backing off from the idea of developing its own college ratings plan.

    "This is a civil rights issue, plain and simple," said Maura Dundon, senior policy council at the Center for Responsible Lending, which estimates that 28 percent of black students studying for a four-year degree are enrolled at a for-profit college compared to only 10 percent of white students.

    For-profit schools say they are meeting a need of students looking for job training.

    "Who else in higher education is educating these students? I have yet to get a cogent answer to this," said Noah Black, a spokesman for the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities, or APSCU, a group that represents the $30 billion-a-year industry and sued unsuccessfully to block the regulations.

    Republicans in Congress have swung behind the industry, saying the Education Department's debt-to-earnings ratio doesn't make sense.

    "If every graduate in the University of Tennessee's political science program were to come work on Capitol Hill, then that program would be shut down," said Sen. Lamar Alexander, who chairs the committee that oversees education and labor issues.

    Well intentioned or not, the unfettered rise of for-profit colleges since the 1990s is costing taxpayers. For-profit schools consistently take in more federal loan money than nonprofit schools, despite enrolling a smaller number of students. Yet, for-profit students also account for 47 percent of all federal student loan defaults, according to a 2012 Senate investigation.

    In addition to loan defaults, state and federal investigations have turned up widespread allegations of fraud and deceptive business practices, particularly in the case of the now-defunct for-profit chain Corinthian Colleges. The findings have been so startling that last month the Education Department launched a major consumer bailout program and appointed a "special master" to oversee debt relief for students.

    Certain Corinthian-related programs, including those at Heald College, were deemed so unfair and predatory that the Education Department set up a website to make the process of debt relief easier for those students. Officials estimate bad debt resulting from Heald College at about $542 million.

    The total could climb. The Education Department estimates it loaned some $3.6 billion in the past five years to Corinthian students before the government forced it to sell or close its campuses.

    Other for-profits too are showing signs of trouble: ITT Educational Services, Education Management Corp., University of Phoenix, Career Education Corp., Kaplan and DeVry University are among those that have disclosed to shareholders that they are or have been subjects of investigations by state or federal authorities.

    These are our taxpayer dollars that form federal student loans, that are used to educate people and supposedly place them in jobs. When did that cease to be a public trust?

    "These are our taxpayer dollars that form federal student loans, that are used to educate people and supposedly place them in jobs. When did that cease to be a public trust?" said Jack Conway, the state attorney general in Kentucky and the leader of a working group of 37 states investigating for-profit schools.

    The latest regulations have so far survived two challenges in court, but include what reform advocates say is still a big loophole: The regulations only consider graduates of a program and whether they can find employment. The rules don't consider how many students attend a school and drop out, either because they were never qualified in the first place or because they realized the program wasn't going to get them a job.

    White House officials said the rules are the toughest viable legal option at a time when many lawmakers are defending the industry. They estimate the regulation will affect some 841,000 students enrolled in training programs that won't result in employment.

    "This industry is well-funded, has powerful backers in Congress and has worked relentlessly to avoid even the most commonsense measures," Education Secretary Arne Duncan said. "But today, despite their efforts, new safeguards for students become a reality."

    APSCU's Black said the administration's focus on employment makes the regulations unfair. Nonprofit public and private colleges churn out numerous degrees that don't immediately translate into jobs, he said.

    "By whose metric are these worthless degrees?" he asked.


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    Success By Trump Fragrance Launch
    Slaven Vlasic/Getty ImagesDonald Trump at the Success by Trump fragrance launch at Macy's Herald Square in 2012.
    By Krystina Gustafson

    Macy's (M) is ending its 11-year partnership with Donald Trump, in response to uproar from Hispanic consumers who were upset with the businessman's disparaging remarks about Latinos.

    "Macy's is a company that stands for diversity and inclusion," the company said in a statement Wednesday. "We welcome all customers, and respect for the dignity of all people is a cornerstone of our culture. We are disappointed and distressed by recent remarks about immigrants from Mexico."

    In a separate statement, Trump said he was the one who decided to terminate the partnership, citing "the pressure being put on [Macy's] by outside sources." Trump also said that he has "never been happy about the fact that the ties and shirts are made in China."

    "While selling Trump ties and shirts at Macy's is a small business in terms of dollar volume, my principles are far more important and therefore much more valuable," he said in the statement.

    Trump's menswear collection, which includes ties and dress shirts, has been carried at the department store since 2004. The partnership's end comes after more than 728,000 people signed a petition on asking Macy's CEO Terry Lundgren to "dump Trump." And on Tuesday, online Latino organization issued a statement saying it "demand Macy's take a stand against discrimination."

    Following Macy's announcement, Angelo Carusone, who started's petition, said the retailer has "finally made the right decision to stop investing in and supporting Donald Trump."

    Arturo Carmona, executive director of, said the organization is "thrilled to see Macy's dumping Donald Trump's toxic discrimination against Latinos."

    Macy's move also follows decisions by NBC and Univision to stop airing his "Miss USA" and "Miss Universe" pageants.

    Macy's has prioritized building connections with Hispanic customers, through its exclusive line with Mexican performer Thalía Sodi, and by holding Hispanic Heritage Month events in its stores.

    The department store also sells products from Ivanka Trump's fashion line.

    (Disclosure: NBCUniversal is the parent company of CNBC.)


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    Airlines Higher Fares
    Nick Ut/AP

    WASHINGTON -- The U.S. government is investigating possible collusion among major airlines to limit available seats, which keeps airfares high, according to a document obtained by The Associated Press.

    The civil antitrust investigation by the Justice Department appears to focus on whether airlines illegally signaled to each other how quickly they would add new flights, routes and extra seats.

    A letter received Tuesday by major U.S. carriers demands copies of all communications the airlines had with each other, Wall Street analysts and major shareholders about their plans for passenger-carrying capacity, or "the undesirability of your company or any other airline increasing capacity."

    The Justice Department asked each airline for its passenger-carrying capacity both by region, and overall, since January 2010.

    'Unlawful Coordination'

    Justice Department spokeswoman Emily Pierce confirmed that the department is looking into potential "unlawful coordination" among some airlines. She declined to comment further or say which airlines are being investigated.

    On a day when the overall stock market was up, stocks of the major U.S. airlines ended the day down 1 to 3 percent on news of the investigation.

    American Airlines (AAL), Delta Air Lines (DAL), Southwest Airlines (LUV) and United Airlines (UAL) all said they received a letter and are complying. Several smaller carriers, including JetBlue Airways (JBLU) and Frontier Airlines, said they hadn't been contacted by the government.

    The airlines publicly discussed capacity early last month in Miami at the International Air Transport Association's annual meeting. After hearing about that meeting, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., requested a Justice Department investigation.

    The department had tried to block the most recent merger, the 2013 joining of American Airlines and US Airways, but ultimately agreed to let it proceed after the airlines made minor concessions.

    Capacity Problem?

    Some Wall Street analysts argue that to remain financially strong, airlines shouldn't expand capacity faster than the U.S. economy. And from January 2010 to January 2014, they didn't.

    In that 4-year period, capacity on domestic flights was virtually flat while the U.S. economy grew about 2.2 percent a year. From January 2014 to January 2015, however, the airlines expanded by 5.5 percent, topping the economy's 2.4 percent growth for 2014.

    Thanks to a series of mergers starting in 2008, America, Delta, Southwest and United now control more than 80 percent of the seats in the domestic travel market. They've eliminated unprofitable flights, filled more seats on planes and made a very public effort to slow growth to command higher airfares.

    It worked. The average domestic airfare rose an inflation-adjusted 13 percent from 2009 to 2014, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. And that doesn't include the billions of dollars airlines collect from new fees. During the past 12 months, the airlines took in $3.6 billion in bag fees and $3 billion in reservation-change fees.

    That has led to record profits. In the past two years, U.S. airlines earned a combined $19.7 billion.

    This year could bring even higher profits thanks to a massive drop in the price of jet fuel, airlines' single highest expense. In April, U.S. airlines paid $1.94 a gallon, down 34 percent from the year before.

    That worries Wall Street analysts and investors. Cheap fuel has led airlines to make money-losing decisions in the past, rapidly expanding, launching new routes and setting unrealistically low fares to lure passengers. Airlines already flying those routes would match the fare, and all carriers would lose money.

    Market Jitters

    Such price wars are long gone, but today's low fuel costs along with recent comments from airline executives have given the market jitters.

    Airline stocks plunged in May after the chief financial officer of Southwest said at an industry event that the carrier would increase passenger-carrying capacity by 7 to 8 percent, an increase over an earlier target.

    Wolfe Research analyst Hunter Keay, who hosted that May 19 conference, told investors in a note afterward that the big airlines are unhappy to be restraining growth while low-cost airlines like Spirit (SAVE) grow much faster. He urged the major airlines to "step up" and cut routes for the good of the industry.

    On June 1, Southwest CEO Gary Kelly said his airline would cap its 2015 growth at 7 percent. That sparked a rally in airline stocks, as investors were more assured that capacity growth would be limited.

    Keay said Wednesday that he had not been contacted by the government and doesn't think the airlines have been acting inappropriately.

    "The analyst community is bringing up the subject. You certainly can't fault an airline executive for responding to the question," Keay said. "The capacity continues to grow at the airports people want to fly to and air travel remains a particular good value for the consumer, especially for the utility that it provides."

    -Koenig reported from Dallas, Mayerowitz from New York.


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    Electrolux AB Buys General Electric Co.s Home Appliances Unit For $3.3 Billion
    Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images
    NEW YORK -- The U.S. government is seeking to stop Electrolux from buying General Electric's appliance division, saying the combined company would dominate sales of kitchen appliances to customers like homebuilders, property managers, hotels and governments.

    General Electric (GE) says it will defend the sale in court and aims to complete the $3.3 billion deal this year. The companies announced the sale in September.

    The U.S. Department of Justice has filed suit asking a U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., to block the sale. It says GE and Electrolux, the owner of the Frigidaire brand, have been competing for decades to sell appliances like ranges, cooktops, and wall ovens.

    The agency says Electrolux would eliminate a major competitor if it buys the GE division, and Electrolux and Whirlpool (WHR) would be the only major companies selling appliances to many customers.

    The Justice Department said the deal would be bad news for buyers of major cooking appliances, but it is most concerned about "contract channel" sales, where suppliers sell to homebuilders, to the builders and managers of apartment buildings and condominiums, hotels and motels; and to governments. It said Electrolux has made major efforts to win more contract channel business over the last decade, but is now seeking to acquire GE's business instead of competing with it.

    Electrolux is based in Stockholm, and the deal would be its largest acquisition ever. Electrolux is ranked as the world's second biggest home appliance maker after Whirlpool.

    GE wants to focus on an industrial core and has been selling or leaving other businesses. It sold NBCUniversal to Comcast Corp. and also sold its insurance operations, spun off its consumer credit card business into a new company called Synchrony Financial, agreed to sell its GE Capital lending business and most of its GE Capital Real Estate unit and said earlier this month that it will sell its private equity business.

    Shares of GE were little changed, rising 4 cents to $26.61 in afternoon trading.


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    Financial Markets Wall Street
    Richard Drew/AP
    By Sinead Carew

    NEW YORK -- Stocks closed higher Wednesday but were down from earlier highs as energy stocks declined and Greece's debt crisis showed no clear signs of resolution.

    The benchmark S&P 500's energy sector was dragged down by the biggest slide in oil prices since April after traders were surprised by a report that showed U.S. crude stockpiles rose for the first time in more than two months.

    Eurozone central bank chiefs kept in place their cap on a funding lifeline to Greece, maintaining pressure as Greece's lenders run out of cash. The country's banks have been shut since Monday ahead of a Sunday referendum on the bailout package offered by its international lenders last week.

    Until it's all said and done they're just jockeying for position back and forth. The negotiation process still isn't over.

    Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said Athens aims to secure a deal Monday and would be willing to accept "strict" conditions in a new bailout package, if the sustainability of Greece's debt is guaranteed.

    Investor hopes for a Greek debt deal, which earlier had helped drive a rally, ebbed during the day, according to Michael Matousek, head trader at U.S. Global Investors in San Antonio.

    "Until it's all said and done they're just jockeying for position back and forth. The negotiation process still isn't over," Matousek said.

    Many investors were also holding off ahead of Thursday's scheduled release of the closely watched U.S. non-farm payroll report for June while the three-day weekend celebrating the Fourth of July holiday kept others away, said Brian Fenske, head of sales trading at ITG in New York.

    While the market was primarily driven by Greece's woes, stronger-than-expected jobs and construction data gave stocks some support as did Swiss insurance giant ACE Ltd.'s (ACE) $28 billion offer for upmarket property insurer Chubb.

    Chubb's (CB) shares ended up 26 percent to $119.99, making it the second biggest boost for the S&P 500. Rival Travelers (TRV) rose 2.7 percent, the biggest driver for the Dow.

    Upbeat Economic News

    U.S. private employers added 237,000 jobs in June, the biggest gain since December, while construction spending rose in May to its highest level in just over 6½ years, reports showed.

    The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) rose 138.4 points, or 0.8 percent, to 17,757.91, the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GSPC) gained 14.31 points, or 0.7 percent, to 2,077.42, and the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) added 26.26 points, or 0.5 percent, to 5,013.12.

    The S&P energy sector fell 1.3 percent, the only S&P sector in the red Wednesday. U.S. crude oil futures settled down 4.2 percent at $56.96 a barrel. Brent settled off 2.5 percent at $62.01.

    Airline stocks tumbled after the U.S. Department of Justice said it was investigating whether some carriers were colluding to keep ticket prices high.

    Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 1,914 to 1,179, for a 1.62-to-1 ratio on the upside; on the Nasdaq, 1,475 issues rose and 1,288 fell for a 1.15-to-1 ratio favoring advancers.

    The benchmark S&P 500 index posted 14 new 52-week highs and 22 new lows; the Nasdaq composite recorded 76 new highs and 89 new lows.

    About 6.4 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, below the 7.4 billion average for the last five sessions, according to data from BATS Global Markets.

    -Siddharth Cavale contributed reporting from Bangalore.

    What to watch Thursday:
    • At 8:30 a.m. Eastern time, the Labor Department releases employment data for June and weekly jobless claims.
    • At 10 a.m., the Commerce Department releases factory orders for May, and Freddie Mac releases weekly mortgage rates.


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    Gay Marriage Mississippi
    Jeff Amy/AP
    By Krystal Steinmetz

    Brace yourselves for wedding bells and an economic windfall.

    The Supreme Court's recent decision to legalize same-sex marriage across the United States will drive an estimated $2.6 billion in spending over the next three years, leading to $185 million in state and local tax revenue, and creating at least 13,000 jobs, according to a December 2014 report by the Williams Institute, a think tank based at the UCLA School of Law.

    "Same-sex couples and their out-of-town guests spend money to celebrate weddings," said Williams Institute Distinguished Scholar M.V. Lee Badgett in a statement. "As we have seen in states that already extend marriage to same-sex couples, this spending boost can lead to an influx of tourism dollars that benefit local businesses and an increase in state and local tax revenue."

    While the wedding industry will receive the most obvious boon from the legalization of gay marriage, other businesses also stand to benefit, from airlines and hotels to stores that sell wedding gifts and attire for wedding guests.

    Before last week's Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage, 13 states outlawed the practice. Based on projections from the Williams Institute, these five states that had same-sex marriage bans in effect before the ruling will benefit the most from gay marriages over the next three years:
    1. Texas: The Lone Star State can expect a $181.6 million boost from same-sex marriages.
    2. Georgia: Marriage equality means an extra $78.8 million will flow into the state economy.
    3. Ohio: The Buckeye State can expect a $70.8 million economic boost over the next three years.
    4. Michigan: Over the next few years, the state economy of Michigan can expect an extra $53.2 million because of marriage equality.
    5. Tennessee: Marriage equality means a $36.7 million boost to the economy in Tennessee.
    For more about the potential economic impact from marriage equality, click here.

    Also, check out "15 Ways to Save Big on Your Dream Wedding."

    What do you think about the potential economic windfall of same-sex marriages? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

    Wedding Gifts That Keep On Giving


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    a man receiving money from the...
    By Elyssa Kirkham

    Independence Day is always observed on July 4, and many workers will get this day off from work -- some will even get July 3 off as well. If you're one of the many Americans enjoying the holiday, you might want to run errands and head to the bank on those days.

    But are banks open on the Fourth of July and July 3, the Friday before the holiday? Here's a look at which banks are open or closed on both days.

    Is the Fourth of July a Bank Holiday?

    The Federal Reserve designates bank holidays based on the federal government's designated public holidays. This includes Independence Day. The Fourth of July is a bank holiday, so Federal Reserve banks and branches will be closed.

    Are Banks Open on July 3?

    Because July 4 falls on a Saturday this year, the usual bank hours during the week will be unaffected. Even though many agencies and offices will close early Friday in recognition of Independence Day, July 3 isn't a bank holiday and most banks will be open.

    Chase, Bank of America and Other Banks Closed on July 4

    So will your bank be open on Independence Day? To help you quickly find out if your bank will be closed on July 4, GOBankingRates confirmed Fourth of July hours from 21 of the biggest financial institutions, including Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and U.S. Bank.

    GOBankingRates found that a couple of banks will likely offer July 4 hours at certain locations, listed below. In addition to visiting these locations, bank customers can also complete a number of transactions -- including depositing check and withdrawing cash -- using banking technology:
    • PNC Bank might keep select branches open on the Fourth. Visit PNC Bank's website to verify holidays observed by your local branch.
    • U.S. Bank confirmed that some regular branches might open on Saturday, while in-store branches will generally remain open. U.S. Bank customers should check with their branches to verify Fourth of July hours.
    Additionally, GOBankingRates confirmed that the following banks are closed on July 4:
    • Bank of America is closed on July 4 in observance of Independence Day.
    • Bank of the West is keeping locations open July 3, but will close the next day for the Fourth of July.
    • BB&T recognizes July 4 as a holiday and will close branches that day.
    • BBVA Compass offices and locations are closed on the Fourth of July.
    • Capital One follows the bank holidays set by the Federal Reserve, so it will open on July 3 and close for Independence Day.
    • Chase Bank will close all branches on July 4 but open on July 3. Most call centers will be open on July 4 as well.
    • Citi will close all branches on the Fourth of July, but branches will follow normal hours on July 3.
    • Citizens Bank will follow regular hours on July 3, but it will be closed Saturday for Independence Day.
    • Fifth Third Bank will close on the Fourth of July, while keeping doors open on July 3.
    • Huntington Bank hours won't be affected July 3, but all locations (including Meijer and Giant Eagle branches) will be closed on the Fourth of July.
    • KeyBank branches will close on July 4.
    • M&T Bank is closed on July 4 for Independence Day.
    • People's United Bank will close branches on the Fourth of July.
    • Union Bank will be open July 3 and closed for the holiday on Saturday.
    • Regions Bank is observing Independence Day and will close branches on July 4.
    • Santander is closed on Independence Day.
    • SunTrust Bank locations will be closed on July 4 for the holiday.
    • TD Bank will close on the Fourth of July.
    • Wells Fargo is closing most branches on both July 3 and July 4, though there might be some exceptions. Customers can check their local branches or call their local store to verify hours.
    This article originally appeared on


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    Putting golden egg in nest
    Getty Images
    By Karla Bowsher

    Where you retire directly impacts your savings and thus your quality of life in retirement.

    As the financial website GOBankingRates reports:

    Deciding where to retire shouldn't be something you do based on weather or even proximity to kids. ... If you want to retire and maintain your nest egg, you should be looking at important regional factors, such as taxes, local living expenses and the affordability and accessibility of health care.

    Those are the factors GOBankingRates recently analyzed in every U.S. state to determine the best and worst states in which to retire rich.

    The top three states are:

    New Hampshire
    • Pros: No sales tax, no Social Security income tax, no estate tax, no inheritance tax, excellent health care, above-average Medicare payouts
    • Cons: High cost of living, above-average home prices, middling deposit account rates, second-highest median property tax in the country, above-average individual health insurance premiums
    • Pros: No sales tax, no Social Security tax, no inheritance tax, low property tax, high Medicare payouts
    • Cons: Estate tax (16 percent), above-average cost of living, above-average home prices, pricey average individual health insurance premiums
    • Pros: No Social Security tax, no estate tax, no inheritance tax, fairly low property taxes, low local tax rates, low cost of living, above-average local deposit rates for retirees, low average individual insurance premiums
    • Cons: Average score for seniors' health care, average Medicare payouts
    The states that made up the top 10 are:
    1. New Hampshire
    2. Delaware
    3. Idaho
    4. Wisconsin
    5. Wyoming
    6. Alaska
    7. South Dakota
    8. Michigan
    9. Utah
    10. Arkansas
    The worst states are:
    1. New York
    2. New Jersey
    3. Illinois
    4. Connecticut
    5. California
    6. Vermont
    7. Rhode Island
    8. Massachusetts
    9. Washington
    10. Nebraska
    To learn more about preparing for a comfortable retirement -- regardless of how far off it might be for you -- be sure to check out "The 10 Golden Rules of Retiring Rich."

    Have you thought about what state you want to retire in? Have you considered state-specific factors like taxes that would affect your retirement savings? Share your thoughts in a comment below or on Facebook.

    Like this article? Sign up for our newsletter and we'll send you a regular digest of our newest stories, full of money saving tips and advice, free!

    Retiring Soon? Don't Make These Mistakes


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    Woman putting coin into piggy bank
    Getty ImagesResearch shows millennials have more diversified portfolios and take better advantage of types of retirement accounts.
    By Joanne Cleaver

    Accustomed to algorithms that anticipate their needs for shopping, travel and content, millennials appear to be adopting a contrarian approach to investing, preferring a more hands-on strategy.

    New research from TD Ameritrade (AMTD) and Wells Fargo (WFC) finds that millennials' portfolios tend to be better diversified than those of older generations. "They skew a little more to individual stocks," says Nicole Sherrod, managing director of the trader group at TD Ameritrade. "They are pickers. They're tremendously conscious when it comes to brand."

    Complementary findings by Wells Fargo, in examining 401(k) plans it administers, indicate that 82 percent of millennials' plans meet the Wells Fargo definition of a diversified portfolio, with at least two equity funds, a fixed-income fund and employer stock comprising no more than 20 percent of the asset allotment.

    Millennials also take better advantage of types of retirement accounts, according to the Wells Fargo data: Twelve percent of millennials contribute to a Roth 401(k) account -- 50 percent more than four years ago. By comparison, 11 percent of Generation X and 7 percent of baby boomer investors use Roths, which enable account holders to contribute in after-tax dollars and withdraw funds tax-free after retiring.

    Sherrod says millennials (those ages 25 to 34) have taken the classic investing advice of "buy what you know" to a new level. Their favorite investing brands are Apple, with 13 percent holding the technology stock in some form. Older generations love Apple (AAPL), too, making it the "No. 1 investment on any given day in 2014," Sherrod says.

    Millennials also prefer eco-conscious equities, such as Tesla (TSLA), and are enthusiastic about international stocks, such as Alibaba (BABA). (AMZN) is one of the top picks for Gen-Xers who are in their busy midlife phase and are likely to be using it nearly daily, Sherrod says.

    In a finding that won't surprise any grandma anywhere, Facebook (FB) is the No. 3 most popular stock for younger boomers. (Facebook may be on the screens of retirees and older boomers but it is less likely to be in their portfolios.)

    As of mid-May, the most widely held stocks across all generations, according to TD Ameritrade, were Apple, Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-B), General Electric (GE), Microsoft (MSFT) and Bank of America (BAC).

    Millennials were the only generation with Disney (DIS) in their top 10 stock holdings, while Verizon (VZ) and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) were equally popular only with retirees age 65 and older. In general, older boomers preferred consumer goods stocks less than older generations.

    Swarn Chatterjee, an associate professor in the University of Georgia's Department of Financial Planning, Housing & Consumer Economics, says that like other generations, millennials buy what they know, but what they know tends to be technology stocks and related services.

    [Millennials'] investment choices are based on what they are more familiar with, which differs from baby boomers.

    "Their investment choices are based on what they are more familiar with, which differs from baby boomers," Chatterjee says. Accustomed to having algorithms curate their choices in movies, friends, content, travel and shopping, millennials are conversant in researching stocks and in gathering input from friends via online channels, he adds.

    What can the generations learn from each other?

    In Chatterjee's opinion, millennials "probably are overlooking some blue chip stocks." This generation also needs to be careful to not underestimate volatility, he adds.

    Millennials are engaged in saving and investing, agrees Joe Ready, head of Wells Fargo Institutional Retirement and Trust, but they need to be sure that they don't assume that the market performance of the past five years will continue uninterrupted.

    "Don't think that the market will win the day for you. Work on your savings rate. Inch it up 1 percent a year. When you combine that with the allocation decisions they make, they've got something," Ready says.

    Meanwhile, boomers have become risk-adverse, he adds, especially those nearing retirement who are wary of having much -- or any -- money in stocks.

    A Wells Fargo-sponsored survey released last fall, which surveyed more than 1,000 middle-class Americans, found that 71 percent of non-retirees ages 50 to 59 weren't confident they will have saved enough to "to live the lifestyle they want" in retirement.

    "They've done the right things, and they're close to the finish line. They've gotten conservative," Ready says. "It's important to keep in mind that you'll have a long time in retirement. You have to manage risk but you also have to have a reasonable exposure to it. If you get too conservative, inflation and overall, over time, may erode your purchasing power if you're not adequately diversified."


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    Earns Wal-Mart
    Seth Perlman/AP
    By Gina Martinez

    Walmart is known for stellar deals, but these days it has some serious competition from dollar stores. A recent price comparison of 42 products showed Walmart (WMT) neck-and-neck with Family Dollar (FDO) and Dollar General (DG), which sell party supplies and seasonal items, office and school supplies, personal care products, household goods, and other merchandise for less than $10.

    Analysts expect to see even lower prices at Family Dollar now that the chain is merging with Dollar Tree, where everything really does cost no more than $1. This aggressive pricing model helps consumers find better bargains at Dollar Tree than Walmart on many low-cost items. On a recent shopping trip, rounded up 28 Dollar Tree products that cost less than the cheapest comparable item at Walmart. (Dollar Tree doesn't carry many national brands, so in most cases, it wasn't possible to compare identical products.)

    Aluminum Foil. Most households keep aluminum foil in the kitchen, and when the roll runs out, the $5-plus price tag at many grocery and convenience stores is an unwelcome expense. At Walmart, 90 square feet of aluminum foil sells for $2.97 under the retailer's Great Value private label, while Dollar Tree's 40-square-foot Ultra-brand roll costs $1. That's 2.5 cents a foot compared with 3.3 cents at Walmart.

    Baby Oil. Lots of parents use baby oil to soothe newborns' skin, and it's handy to have around for everything from removing eye makeup to untangling jewelry chains. At Dollar Tree, 10 ounces of Angel of Mine baby oil goes for $1, whereas Walmart's Equate brand is priced at $1.98 for 14 ounces. At 10 cents an ounce vs. 14 cents an ounce, it's a close call but still a win for the dollar store.

    Bandages. Whether you have active kids, can be a bit clumsy, or just want to be prepared for anything, it's nice to have a stockpile of bandages. A box of 100 assorted bandages costs $3.98 if you buy the Curad brand at Walmart but only $1 if you opt for Assured-brand bandages at Dollar Tree.

    Batteries. Dollar Tree customers can get a 10-count pack of Sunbeam AA batteries for $1. Walmart, by contrast, has Go Green batteries in 20-count packs for $4.44, more than twice the price per battery. You may not want to buy batteries at the dollar store, however. They've been shown to contain less stored energy than brand-name batteries.

    Cereal. If you're looking to save on generic cereal, should you choose Walmart's Great Value brand or Dollar Tree's Malt-o-Meal? The dollar store is the answer, but not by much, with 10-ounce boxes of cereal in classic varieties for $1 each (10 cents an ounce). That compares to $2.18 for 14- to 20-ounce boxes at Walmart, or about 11 to 16 cents an ounce. Wondering about taste? Malt-O-Meal Golden Puffs and Frosted Mini Spooners are unanimous recommendations in reviews on the Dollar Tree website.

    Cotton Swabs. Consumers can save on these toiletry essentials at Dollar Tree, where 250 swabs sell for $1. At Walmart, the best options are 500-count packages from several different brands for $2.98. On the Dollar Tree website, most reviewers recommend the Assured brand product. They say the swabs are sturdy enough, with paper sticks instead of plastic, but several warn that the cotton has come off in their ears.

    Dish Soap. The LA's Totally Awesome line gets good reviews on the Dollar Tree website, and dish soap sells for an almost-too-good-to-believe price of $1 for a 50-ounce bottle in stores. At Walmart, the cheapest choice is 52 ounces of Ajax for $2.96, almost three times the price.

    Flashlight. As a precaution, it's smart to stow flashlights around the house and in the car. Walmart sells two for $4.97, but Dollar Tree has the retail giant beat once again, with flashlights for a buck each. Like the Walmart product, they take two DD batteries and measure between 7 and 8 inches. Reviewers recommend them as long-lasting and convenient, although some customers who ordered cases of 24 online found a few duds.

    Glass Cleaner. Cleaning products are one of the best things to buy at the dollar store. At Dollar Tree, consumers can find a 40-ounce bottle of Solutions glass and multi-surface cleaner for $1. It's formulated with vinegar and works well, reviewers say. At Walmart, the cheapest options (Glass Plus and the store's Great Value brand) were $2.17 for 32 ounces.

    Hand Sanitizer. Hand sanitizers available at Dollar Tree (Assured brand) and Walmart (Germ-X) both contain more than 60 percent ethyl alcohol, the minimum recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The prices: $1.98 for 10 ounces at Walmart compared with (of course) $1 for the same size bottle at Dollar Tree.

    Headphones. If you're convinced that even the best cheap headphones don't sound that great and will break soon enough, you may just want to go for the cheapest option available. Earbuds and on-ear headphones start at $4.14 at Walmart vs. $1 at Dollar Tree.

    Hydrogen Peroxide. Use it for wound treatment, cleaning, stain removal, and personal health and beauty, but don't pay too much for hydrogen peroxide. A 16-ounce bottle at Walmart runs $1.41, whereas Dollar Tree offers twice that amount (32 ounces) for about 70 percent of the Walmart price.

    Educational Flashcards. Anything to help children be successful in school and get them away from ubiquitous screens, right? At Dollar Tree, flashcard packs for math and word recognition cost $1 each. The cheapest analogous flashcards at Walmart were twice that much, and most of the options were even pricier.

    Kitchen Storage Containers. Cheap, reusable containers store everything from leftovers to art supplies and are an economical choice for people who like to give away food. The most affordable option at Walmart was five 5-ounce Glad containers for $2.57. Dollar Tree offers a huge variety of $1 sets of varying sizes, including three 8-ounce containers and four 9.4-ounce containers. There are a few reports online of lids popping off, but overall the Sure Fresh brand garners positive reviews.

    Notebooks and Paper. This one's no contest: At the dollar store, a 120-sheet spiral-bound notebook costs $1 compared with $4.60 each for similar products at Walmart. Composition books are 100 sheets for $1 vs. 50 sheets for $1.72 (about 70 percent less per sheet). A 150-sheet pack of paper comes to $3.98 at Walmart but just a buck at the dollar store.

    Party Supplies. Why overspend on one-time-use items such as balloons, streamers, and the like? These things add up when you're planning a party. At Dollar Tree, $1 buys 10 invitations, three gift bags, 12 party cups, 20 party napkins, a 12-foot banner, or a foil balloon. These items are all costlier at Walmart, where invitations start at $1.49 for eight, gift bags are 79 cents a pop, cups are $1.98 for eight, and napkins are $1.67 for 16. Foil balloons and comparable banners start at $2.49 and $1.29, respectively.

    Picture Frames. To get a good deal on picture frames at Walmart, consumers generally have to buy a set, such as six 8x10 frames from store brand Mainstays starting at $11.76. Dollar Tree offers comparable frames in various sizes for $1 each. The only way to get that rate at Walmart is to purchase a dozen 4x6 or 5x7 frames for $12.

    Plastic Tumbler. Like to bring your own beverages? Colorful, 35-ounce plastic tumblers come with lids, straws, and $1 price tags at Dollar Tree. Smaller 16- and 22-ounce cups from Walmart run $5.79 and up. Hundreds of online reviewers vouch for the quality of Dollar Tree tumblers of various sizes.

    Pool and Beach Toys. Available for $1 each at Dollar Tree: a pool noodle, a kids' swim mask, a pail and shovel, and inflatables such as tubes and arm bands. Walmart's prices for these items were considerably higher and the quality seemed comparable (floating products are durable and goggles leak-free, according to Dollar Tree reviews). The best deals we saw at Walmart were floats and arm bands for $4.17 each; tubes for $3.40 each; a six-pack of noodles for $11.69; and swim masks for $4.37 each.

    Pot and Pan Brush. Dollar Tree sells a Scrub Buddies pot and pan scrubbing brush with a long handle for -- you guessed it -- $1. The only comparable item at Walmart was a Scotch-Brite brush for $2.99. The dollar store product has earned the unanimous approval of more than a dozen reviewers, many of whom say it's more durable than pricier brushes from big-box stores.

    Potholders. Walmart packages potholders from its Mainstays brand in sets of two starting at $2.98. At the dollar store, customers can get a pack of two potholders plus an oven mitt for the usual $1 price. All the products come in a variety of colors to match kitchen decor.

    Pregnancy Tests. This might come as a surprise, but many women swear by dollar-store pregnancy tests, and studies have shown they're as accurate as more expensive varieties. At Dollar Tree, a New Choice test will set you back $1. The cheapest option at Walmart is the house brand Equate, at $2.98.

    Shampoo and Conditioner. Low-end shampoos such as White Rain and VO5 come in 12.5- and 20-ounce bottles for $1 at Dollar Tree. A comparable brand, Suave -- available in a variety of scents, like the others -- costs $2.74 for 28 ounces at Walmart. That's about 10 cents an ounce vs. as low as 5 cents an ounce at Dollar Tree.

    Spices. Salt, pepper, garlic powder, and many other basic dried spices are available at Dollar Tree in standard-size bottles of varying weights (1 ounce to 5 ounces depending on the item). At $1 apiece, or as little as 50 cents an ounce, you could accumulate a uniform spice collection on the cheap. At Walmart, the best value tends to be extra-large McCormick-brand containers (10 ounces to 20 ounces) at about 55 cents an ounce or more. Smaller bottles are more expensive. Reviewers assert that the quality at the dollar store matches supermarket brands; just be sure to check the expiration dates.

    Sugar. Domino is one of the relatively few national brands Dollar Tree stocks. At Walmart, 1 pound of the white sugar is $1.28, as opposed to $1 at Dollar Tree. Light and dark brown sugars are likewise $1 a pound at Dollar Tree. Walmart commonly sells 2-pound boxes of brown sugar for $2.34 each. These differences are slight but relevant if you're on a tight budget and saving your pennies, especially given that you're getting an identical product.

    Sunglasses. Dollar Tree has a selection of "fashion sunglasses" for a mere $1 each, whereas Walmart's lowest-priced sunglasses for kids are between $2 and $3 and the least costly adult options are at least $5.99. Of course, you can't expect high quality sunglasses from either store, but for cheap shades you don't have to worry about losing or breaking, Dollar Tree is the place.

    Sunscreen. Proper sun protection requires a lot of sunscreen, but you don't have to shell out big bucks for broad-spectrum, SPF 50 coverage. Walmart's best deal is 16 fluid ounces of Equate sunscreen for $9. At Dollar Tree, customers can get a 3-ounce bottle for a purse or pocket from the brand EAD. Buy six for a total of $6, and you get more sunscreen for less cash than you'd spend at Walmart.

    Vases. From collecting spare change to holding cooking utensils, a cheap vase can do much more than display flowers. At Dollar Tree, 8-inch vases in assorted colors cost $1 each. The cheapest option we saw at Walmart was a 5-inch vase for $4.


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    Job Market Less Bang For The Buck
    M. Spencer Green/AP
    By Lucia Mutikani

    WASHINGTON -- Job growth slowed in June and Americans left the labor force in droves, tempering expectations for a September interest rate hike from the Federal Reserve.

    The Labor Department said Thursday nonfarm payrolls rose 223,000 last month after a downwardly revised 254,000 increase in May, with construction and government employment unchanged, and the mining sector purging more jobs.

    April payrolls were also lowered, meaning 60,000 fewer jobs were created during the two months than previously reported. The unemployment rate fell two-tenths of a percentage point to 5.3 percent, the lowest since April 2008, but that was a sign of weakness as 432,000 people dropped out of the labor force.

    ... this report certainly isn't pushing the Fed to accelerate the liftoff timeline.

    "While we've been seeing positive signs of the economy picking up moving into the second half, this report certainly isn't pushing the Fed to accelerate the liftoff timeline," said Ted Wieseman, an economist at Morgan Stanley in New York.

    Still, June's payrolls increase ran well above the average for the first five months and the jobless rate is near the 5 percent to 5.2 percent range most Fed officials consider consistent with full employment.

    Before the report, interest rate futures were pricing in a more than 50 percent chance of a December hike, but bets shifted to early 2016. Economists still believe the Fed, which has kept its short-term interest rate near zero since December 2008, will tighten monetary policy this year.

    The dollar fell marginally against a basket of currencies, while prices for U.S. Treasury debt ended higher. U.S. stocks closed little changed on festering worries over Greece's debt crisis.

    From consumer spending to housing and consumer confidence, economic reports had taken a decisively strong tenor since May, prompting many forecasters to raise their second-quarter growth estimates to above a 3 percent annual pace.

    Caution Urged

    The economy contracted at a 0.2 percent rate in the January-March quarter. While the weak employment report raises the risk that growth will slow in the third quarter, economists cautioned against reading to much into the disappointing report as calendar and seasonal quirks could have influenced the data.

    The labor force participation rate fell to 62.6 percent, the lowest since October 1977, from a four-month high of 62.9 percent in May.

    "By far the biggest source of the increase in non-participants was people transitioning from employment to not in the labor force," said Michael Feroli, an economist at JPMorgan (JPM) in New York. "Far fewer transitioned from unemployed to not in the labor force."

    Economists had forecast nonfarm payrolls rising 230,000 last month and the unemployment rate dipping to 5.4 percent.

    Average hourly earnings were unchanged as mining and manufacturing wages fell. However, manufacturing overtime touched a 4-month high in June. Average hourly earnings increased 2 percent in the 12 months through June, decelerating from 2.3 percent in May.

    Anecdotal evidence and other measures of wage growth suggest paychecks are getting fatter.

    State and local governments have raised the minimum wage and surveys show entry-level wages for new college graduates are rising. In addition, Walmart (WMT), the nation's largest private employer, has announced wage increases twice this year.

    Though construction payrolls were unchanged in June, construction spending hit a more than 6½-year-high in May. Residential construction, building permits and new home sales are all at cycle highs.

    "With housing showing so much forward momentum, we find it hard to accept that not a single net new person was hired in the construction industry," said Bernard Baumohl, chief global economist at The Economic Outlook Group in Princeton, New Jersey.

    Not All Bad

    There were, however, some encouraging signs in the employment report. Though the participation rate tumbled last month, other labor market measures that Fed officials are eyeing as they contemplate raising interest rates for the first time since 2006 improved significantly.

    A broad measure of joblessness that includes people who want to work but have given up searching and those working part-time because they can't find full-time employment fell to 10.5 percent, the lowest since July 2008, from 10.8 percent in May.

    The number of discouraged workers in June was the lowest since October 2008. In addition, the number of long-term unemployed continued to fall, touching its lowest level since late September 2008. Americans are also experiencing shorter spells of unemployment.

    Last month, factory jobs increased 4,000, adding to a 7,000 gain in May. Retail payrolls rose a solid 32,900 and temporary help, a potential harbinger of future permanent hiring, increased 19,800 jobs, the most since December.

    The mining sector, however, lost 3,000 more jobs because of layoffs in the energy industry. But the pace of declines is slowing. The sector shed 18,000 jobs in May.

    Oil-field companies, including Schlumberger (SLM), Baker Hughes (BHI) and Halliburton (HAL), have announced thousands of job cuts after a more than 60 percent plunge in crude oil prices last year.


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    Gulf Oil Spill Anniversary
    Patrick Semansky/APAn inspector walks in an area of dead marsh grass on Fourchon Beach in Port Fourchon, La., in 2011, affected by oil from the BP oil spill.
    By Abhiram Nandakumar, Ron Bousso and Kathy Finn

    BP has reached a comprehensive $18.7 billion settlement with the U.S. government and five states, a landmark deal that effectively ends years of litigation over environmental damage and human casualties caused by the 2010 Gulf of Mexico spill.

    It could be the largest settlement with a single entity in U.S. history, the U.S. Justice Department said.

    The April 20, 2010, rig explosion killed 11 workers and spewed millions of barrels of oil for nearly three months onto the shorelines of several states.

    The agreement covers U.S. Clean Water Act fines and natural resources damages, along with claims by Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and 400 local government entities.

    This is a realistic outcome which provides clarity and certainty for all parties.

    BP's London-listed shares rose as much as 5.3 percent as the extent of the company's liabilities became clear for investors, even as it increased its cumulative pretax charge for the disaster by about $10 billion to $53.8 billion. BP's (BP) New York-traded shares rose 5 percent to $41.20.

    "This is a realistic outcome which provides clarity and certainty for all parties," BP Chief Executive Officer Bob Dudley said in a statement. "For BP, this agreement will resolve the largest liabilities remaining from the tragic accident."

    The size of the settlement was slightly more than the $17.6 billion that investors had feared BP would be fined under the Clean Water Act for gross negligence.

    The maximum possible Clean Water Act fine was later trimmed to $13.7 billion after U.S. District Court Judge Carl Barbier found 3.19 million barrels spilled, less than the U.S. government claimed.

    Barbier was expected to rule on that issue later this year, but even after that, BP would have still faced years of lawsuits to address claims by states and by the federal government under a natural resources damage assessment.

    The settlement announced Thursday closes off the remaining liabilities and will bring over $6.8 billion to states.

    "This agreement will not only restore the damage inflicted on our coastal resources by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, it will also allow Louisiana to continue aggressively fighting coastal erosion," Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal.


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    Slash Your Summer Cooling Bill
    Summer is here and as the temperature continues to rise, you've probably noticed that your energy bill does, too. However, by following a few easy tips, you can keep the cool air flowing without overpaying.

    First, if you have a window AC unit, put it in a spot that doesn't get a lot of sun. By keeping it cool, the unit will run up to 10 percent more efficiently, and save you money in the long run. Once you've found a window with shade, seal the perimeter with some weather stripping to keep the cold air from escaping. You can pick some up at the hardware store for under 10 bucks.

    Another easy way to keep your AC unit running smoothly, is by cleaning the filter once a month. Simply pop open the front cover and slide out the filter. Then, rinse it with warm water until all of the dirt and debris is gone. Once it's completely dry, put the filter back in its slot and you're good to go. By doing this regularly, you'll reduce the amount of energy your air conditioner uses by up to 15 percent, which means a lower electricity bill for you each month.

    Next, if you have central air, use a programmable thermostat so that you don't waste money cooling off the house while no one's home. When you are home, keep it set to 78 degrees. It's a great balance. You'll still feel cool and comfortable and by keeping it set to that magic number, you can knock up to 20 percent off your bill.

    Finally, one of the best ways to lower your cooling bill is by using a ceiling fan. Not only will it allow you to set your thermostat to a higher temperature, they cost less than a penny an hour to run. And since you can pick one up at a home improvement store for as little as $40, it's a really affordable way to keep cool.

    Remember these tips to save on your energy bill this summer. You'll see that with a few small adjustments, you can keep your house cool without breaking the bank.

    View Poll


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    Auto Sales
    Carlos Osorio/APFord Focus vehicles in a storage lot in Ypsilanti, Mich.
    NEW YORK -- Ford is recalling 432,000 Focus, C-Max and Escape vehicles because of a software problem that could keep their engines running after drivers try to shut them down.

    Ford Motor (F) says there is a flaw in the body control module software in the vehicles. As a result of the problem, the engine could keep running after the key is turned to "off" and removed, or after the start/stop button is pressed to turn the engine off.

    The Dearborn, Michigan-based company says no injuries or accidents have been associated with the problem. Ford says dealers will update the software at no cost to consumers.

    The recall covers some model 2015 Focus cars, C-Max hybrids and Escape sport utility vehicles. The Focus vehicles were made in Michigan as far back as June 2014, while the C-Maxes were made in Michigan starting in April 2014 and the Escapes were built in Louisville starting in April 2014.

    About 375,000 of the cars were sold in the U.S., 52,000 in Canada and 5,000 in Mexico.

    Last week Ford said it would recall 203,500 Transit Connect vans and Escape sport utility vehicles in North America because of instrument panel and seatbelt problems.


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    Whole Foods Dispute
    Julie Jacobson/AP
    NEW YORK -- Whole Foods Market (WFM) is apologizing to its shoppers for incorrect pricing, a week after a New York investigation found that the natural food grocer routinely overcharged for prepackaged fruits, vegetables and deli meats.

    "Straight up, we made some mistakes," said co-CEO Walter Robb, as he stood beside co-CEO John Mackey in a YouTube video posted Wednesday. "We want to own that."

    We apologize to our customers for any discrepancies that may have occurred.

    Robb and Mackey said that the pricing mistakes were unintentional and that the company will increase its training at stores across the country. Going forward, Whole Foods will give items away for free if customers discover they were overcharged. "We apologize to our customers for any discrepancies that may have occurred," the company said in blog post.

    Last week, New York's Department of Consumer Affairs said it was expanding its investigation after finding that Whole Foods stores in the city regularly ripped customers off, including overcharging $14.84 for a package of coconut shrimp and $4.85 for eight chicken tenders. The department tested 80 types of prepackaged items and found all of them had mislabeled weights. The investigation focused on eight stores in the city.

    In a statement, Commissioner Julie Menin said that the Department of Consumer Affairs was "gratified" that Whole Foods admitted to issues with its prepackaged food labels.

    In the YouTube video, Mackey said there was a "very small percentage" of weighing errors with items made in stores, including sandwiches, fresh juices and cut fruits.

    "We know they are unintentional because the mistakes are both in the customer's favor and sometimes not in the customer's favor," Robb said.

    Based in Austin, Texas, Whole Foods Market operates 422 stores around the world.


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    Financial Markets Wall Street
    Richard Drew/AP
    By Sinead Carew

    NEW YORK -- Stocks closed slightly lower Thursday after the International Monetary Fund warned Greece ahead of its Sunday referendum that it faces a huge financial hole and mixed jobs data dampened the U.S. economic outlook.

    While the IMF was warning that Greece needed an extra 50 billion euros over the next three years to stay afloat, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was urging voters to reject a bailout offer from lenders and saying he hoped to sign a new deal Monday.

    Given the referendum on Sunday in Greece and the holiday weekend, at least for today the action was somewhat muted compared to the rest of the week.

    "Given the referendum on Sunday in Greece and the holiday weekend, at least for today the action was somewhat muted compared to the rest of the week." Michael Arone, chief investment strategist for State Street Global Advisors' U.S. Intermediary Business.

    Trading volume remained low ahead of a long weekend. U.S. markets won't open Friday to observe Independence Day.

    Slowing U.S. job growth in June tempered expectations for a Federal Reserve interest rate increase in September.

    Nonfarm payrolls increased 223,000 last month, below the 230,000 expected by economists polled by Reuters, while average hourly earnings were unchanged in June, taking the year-on-year increase to a paltry 2 percent.

    The Fed has said it will raise interest rates only when data shows a sustained economic recovery.

    The utilities sector was the best performer in the S&P, rising 1.4 percent. That sector has been battered by a 10.6 percent decline so far this year as investors have been switching positions in anticipation of an interest rate increase.

    Investors also faced uncertainty over volatility in China's stock markets and a debt crisis in Puerto Rico.

    "There's not enough certainty to be taking long positions going into the holiday weekend," Richard Weeks, managing director at HighTower Advisors in Vienna, Virginia.

    The Day in Numbers

    The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) fell 27.8 points, or 0.2 percent, to 17,730.11; the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GSPC) slipped 0.6 points, or 0.03 percent, to 2,076.78, and the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) dropped 3.91 points, or 0.1 percent, to 5,009.21.

    All three indexes fell for the week, with the S&P 500's decline the biggest since March. The Dow had its biggest weekly decline since April, while the Nasdaq had its biggest weekly decline since early May

    BP's (BP) U.S.-listed shares rose 5 percent to $41.29 after the company agreed to settle claims from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill for $18.7 billion.

    Xoom (XOOM) shares rose 21 percent to $25.05 after PayPal, which is slated to separate from eBay later this month, said it would buy the digital money transfer provider. EBay (EBAY) rose 2.4 percent.

    Western Union (WU), the S&P's biggest percentage loser, fell 6.9 percent to $18.99 after Evercore ISI cut its rating on the stock to "hold" from "buy," citing the Xoom deal.

    Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 1,536 to 1,516, for a 1.01-to-1 ratio on the upside; on the Nasdaq, 1,761 issues fell and 1,015 advanced for a 1.73-to-1 ratio favoring decliners.

    The benchmark S&P 500 index was posting 17 new 52-week highs and 9 new lows; the Nasdaq composite was recording 48 new highs and 80 new lows.

    About 5.5 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, compared with the 7.6 billion average for the last five sessions, according to data from BATS Global Markets.

    -Rodrigo Campos contributed reporting.

    What to watch Friday:
    • U.S. stock and bond market is closed for Independence Day (observed).


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    Next Generation Coupons
    Rick Bowmer/AP
    By Lisa Poisso

    If the eye-rolling and heavy sighs of impatient customers waiting for the cashier to process your stack of coupons leave you utterly mortified, extreme couponing might not be for you. But, that doesn't mean you should avoid couponing altogether. After all, more people than not use coupons.

    People are fine with saving on their J. Crew sweater, but they're embarrassed saving on a box of cereal.

    Coupons in the News reports only 11 percent of people surveyed in 2014 for the 2015 Promotion Industry Analysis said they never use coupons. And, the most prodigious users of coupons (22 percent) are actually shoppers with six-figure incomes, according to the Statistic Brain Research Institute.

    Even so, some shoppers feel too embarrassed to present coupons at the register. "People are fine with saving on their J. Crew sweater, but they're embarrassed saving on a box of cereal," said Joanie Demer, co-founder of "It's inexplicable."

    But thanks to technology, there are numerous ways shoppers can use their coupons without the fear of embarrassment. Load-to-card rewards, rebate apps and other types of electronic coupons -- sometimes called e-coupons -- allow shoppers to save money before or after the checkout lane. "There's lots of new ways to coupon without taking any action at the store and keeping everything on the down low," said Demer.

    Time-Saving Electronic Coupons and Coupon Apps

    The beauty of electronic coupons is how quick and easy they are to use. By using electronic coupons or coupon apps, shoppers are more likely to perceive you as a savvy insider than a deals-hungry discount digger. In fact, using a smartphone during checkout has become routine -- it's predicted that more than 74 million Americans will use smartphone mobile coupons this year.

    Paper coupons are still big business, but easier, high-tech alternatives help shoppers save without all the clipping and organizing. These new types of coupons and savings tools help you save in all the same ways you remember from traditional paper coupons and sales: discounts, free shipping offers, buy-one-get-one deals, first-time customer incentives and more.

    1. Electronic coupons. Electronic coupons can refer not only to digital coupons you store and show on your smartphone, but also a handful of other digital savings tools as well:
    • Printable coupons you find online: Print these coupons out and carry them along to present at the register.
    • Coupon codes, typically used for online shopping: Plug in these alphanumeric codes to the discount or coupon field when you're placing an online order to get an instant discount.
    • Store loyalty cards: Sign up for these promotional programs advertised in your favorite stores or on their websites to receive your loyalty card. Show or scan your store card at the register to receive credit for your purchase or any special discounts or coupons. If your wallet fills up with too many cards, digitize them on your smartphone with an app like Key Ring, which can also digitize your loyalty cards.
    • Card-linked offers: These are digital coupons or discounts loaded directly onto your store loyalty card, debit card or credit card. At checkout, the deals and savings are applied to your card.
    2. Smartphone coupon apps. Many smartphone coupon apps help you track down and manage digital and printable coupons. These apps all work a little differently, though, so research each one before you start downloading.

    For example, Cellfire lets you view all of your saved coupons and allows you to save grocery coupons to your store loyalty card. You can even receive email notifications so that you know about existing offers when you walk into the store. With Grocery IQ, you can print out coupons or add coupons to you savings card as well.

    When you download the SavingStar app, you can select the offers you want and link them to your grocery or drugstore loyalty card. After checkout, or after you take a picture of your receipt, you will receive your savings in your SavingStar account. Once you've earned $5, you can cash out to your bank or PayPal.

    There are also apps affiliated with specific stores and retailers. Demer calls Target's Cartwheel app the best all-around savings tool she uses today. In the app, choose up to 10 offers you want. Then at checkout, have the cashier scan the barcode on your smartphone to receive the discounts. "It's one barcode, no matter how many offers, so you're not going to be holding up the checkout lane," said Demer.

    3. Amazon subscriptions and coupons. Amazon has a "Subscribe & Save Coupons" page where you can see all available coupons. You can redeem a coupon you find on Amazon by clicking on it, selecting "Subscribe Now" and setting a delivery quantity and frequency.

    Demer is a huge fan of this service, even though she's not affiliated with Amazon in any way. "Their prices are really competitive," she said. "I really feel like I want to hitch my bandwagon to Amazon ..."

    The trick to earning the 15 percent discount on your entire order for Amazon's subscription items is to make sure you're receiving at least five subscription items on your monthly delivery day. Since you can set subscription intervals from one to six months, be sure you have five items in each monthly delivery in order to earn the discount.

    Many products on Amazon, such as snacks, personal care items and household basics, come with coupon orders. Just "clip" the coupon to receive the discount at checkout.

    "You can add a coupon and subscribe to the item, so it's sort of like extreme couponing online," Demer said. "You're stacking multiple ways to save."

    4. Rebate apps. Rebate apps give you cash back based on what you actually buy at the store. Because rebate apps do their work once you've come home from the store, they might be one of the most discreet coupon and savings tools out there.

    With rebate apps like Ibotta, Checkout 51 and Snap by Groupon, all the work happens before or after you shop. There's absolutely no action required at the checkout -- in fact, you can leave your smartphone at home with some rebate apps.

    To use a rebate app, browse and add any offers you're interested in before you go shopping. Once you're home again after shopping, take a picture of your receipt and upload it to the app to receive cash back for the items you purchased.

    A final word of advice if you're using any type of electronic coupon or deal: Store employees aren't always comfortable with e-coupon technology. Should you run into technical difficulties during checkout, discreet couponers will probably prefer to try it again at another time rather than attempting to troubleshoot at the register.

    Where to Find Electronic Coupons

    A savvy coupon shopper will use different methods to find coupons, including coupon websites, brand websites, retailer websites, search engines and social media. Try or to get started. You can also find online coupons and discounts on sites such as CouponSherpa and RetailMeNot. And don't forget about coupons for smartphones and apps such as Cellfire and Grocery IQ.

    Here's a neat trick for nudging online retailers into sending you email coupons and coupon codes: Abandon the items you want in your online shopping cart without purchasing them. In an attempt to close the sale, some retailers will email you a coupon code for whatever you've left in the cart.

    You can often score coupons by being a supportive follower on social media, too. Some stores and brands will share coupon codes and deals with their social media fans. Or, they might use newsletters and brand clubs.

    Finally, don't neglect the power of an internet search to find the coupons you want. Hit your favorite search engine with the name of the store or brand plus the word "coupon."

    Top Brands and Stores That Offer Coupons

    With electronic coupons and rebates, it's easy and convenient to keep your couponing profile low key while still enjoying coupons for popular and high-end stores and brands, including Lacoste, J. Crew Factory, Banana Republic, Athleta and Aero. You can link these brands' offers right to your debit or credit card through

    The best card-loaded deals and electronic grocery coupons, according to Demer, come from Safeway, Vons and its affiliates. Stores known for their great deals, such as Kohl's, also tend to offer coupons.

    The Best Coupon Savings Strategy

    The tools that ultimately save coupon expert Demer the most money just happen to be the most discreet, a real bonus for users who prefer not to advertise their affinity for coupons. Surprisingly, as easy and convenient as they are, card-loaded offers and other electronic coupons don't form the backbone of her ongoing savings.

    "I am able to save more -- a great deal more -- with rebate apps, for example," she said.

    The other big gun in Demer's arsenal is the double whammy of Amazon subscriptions and clickable coupons. "I'm seeing pretty significant price savings -- that's how I'm beating Costco prices," she said.

    But, it's good old-fashioned sales that save Demer the most money, even more than couponing.

    "It's still for me all about the combination," she said. "But the No. 1 driver that's going to reduce your budget is the mental shift that says, 'Instead of shopping around what I ran out of or the recipes I just found on Pinterest, I'm going to look at my sale circular. I'm going to visit, and I'm going to make my purchase decisions based on what's on sale.' "

    This story originally appeared on


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    Retail Sales
    APJuly Fourth is a great time to celebrate our country and grab a deal or two.
    By Lori McDaniel

    The scorching heat and humidity are reason enough to head indoors and shop the Fourth of July sales. An even better idea? Shop online and completely skip venturing out in the heat. However, determining which stores have the best sales can be a bit tricky, so I've rounded up my favorite holiday sales to help you navigate the crowds and net the most savings.

    Best Buy

    If you've been waiting to buy an appliance, now's a great time. Through July 15, Best Buy is running its July Fourth Major Appliance Sale. Get up to 44 percent off French door refrigerators or as much as 33 percent off washing machines and dryers from top brands Samsung, Whirlpool and LG. If you need a stove, you'll save 40 percent on brands like Frigidaire, Amana and GE. You'll also find deals on built-in dishwashers and over-the-range microwaves. Layer a coupon and save even more.

    Don't forget about Best Buy's free home delivery, haul-away and recycling for purchases totaling $399 or more. If you're looking for financing options, Best Buy also offers 18-month finances on major appliance purchases of at least $599.


    Find bargains to help spruce up your home at Overstock's Independence Day Sale. You'll find savings of up to 70 percent on area rugs, memory foam mattresses, furniture and more. If your purchase totals at least $50, your order will ship for free. Make sure you look for coupon codes to maximize your savings.


    Find deep discounts on power equipment and tools at Sears. You'll get up to 50 percent off tools, 40 percent off appliance hot buys, and an extra 5 percent off power lawn, and garden and outdoor storage items already marked up to 20 percent off. Update your outdoor patio for less with an extra 10 percent off patio furniture sets already marked as much as 40 percent off.

    Look to save even more with free delivery options. Through July Fourth, when you order online and choose the in-store pickup, you'll save an additional $50 off your order when you use a coupon. That easily could be worth a short drive.


    If you're looking to buy new furniture or upgrade to a new mattress, shop Macy's July Fourth Furniture & Mattress sale. You'll score 50 percent to 70 percent off select outdoor furniture, and get free delivery on purchases of at least $999. Plus, get the lowest price of the season on accent furniture. You'll also save as much as 40 percent on beds, select dining room sets and more. And get a whopping 65 percent off mattress sets from respected brands like Beautyrest, Serta, Sealy, Tempur-Pedic and Stearns & Foster.

    Through July 5, Macy's also is offering no down payment and 0 percent, 12-month financing on mattress and furniture purchases of at least $499. Those savings add up.

    Home Depot

    If you're in the market for a new grill, you'll save 10 percent on select models at Home Depot, plus receive free shipping. Brands include Char-Broil, Char-Griller, Broil-Mate, Blue Rhino, Cuisinart and Coleman. You'll find everything from portable and full-sized propane gas grills to charcoal and even electric options.

    Home Depot also has up to 25 percent off ceiling fans and lights from Hampton Bay, Hunter and more. Saving on something that'll keep you cool sounds like a win-win.


    Let's be real, it's hard to resist the lure of Target, and you'll feel a bit better about those impulse buys if you shop there during its July Fourth sale. You'll save up to 30 percent on patio furniture, accessories, and outdoor lighting; outdoor toys, camping equipment, bikes, and water gear; as well as on furniture, bedding, rugs and other home decor. At $25, Target's spend limit for free shipping is low, and if you decide you're unhappy with your purchase, you can return it for free.

    Old Navy

    Old Navy knows how to do up the Fourth of July. Shop its All-American Summer Sale and get up to 60 percent off the entire store. Check out its Americana the Beautiful collection, which features shirts, shorts and even dresses in patriotic colors. You'll find children's T-shirts as low as $4 and adult T-shirts from $5, as well as women's dresses at $8 and kids shorts for $10. Plus, when you spend at least $50 online you'll get free shipping and returns on all orders are free.

    It's not too late to snag a last-minute deal on July Fourth travel. will help you save as much as 50 percent at various locations. Top destinations include Las Vegas; San Francisco; Portland, Oregon; Phoenix; and Oahu Island, Hawaii. Simply book your travel by July 4 for travel before July 18.

    When choosing your hotel, make sure you take into account minimum stays, which some hotels require before they offer the discount. Finally, look for coupons online for further savings. currently has a coupon for $5 off bookings over $50.

    Whatever sale you decide hit, make sure you look for hidden fees! And again, don't forget to use coupons to save where you can (especially on shipping). I hope you score some great deals!

    Lori McDaniel is the senior content manager at She's a wife and mother of two who can't seem to shake her taste for the finer things in life, which means she always is on the hunt for a great deal.


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