The Associated Press___ Toyota debuts new Camry amid tough competition DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) â¿¿ Toyota unveiled its first redesign of the Camry in five years on Tuesday. While it promises new technology and other upgrades, America's best-selling car faces a fight to stay on top. Toyota introduced the car at simultaneous events in California, Michigan and at the Georgetown, Ky., plant where the Camry is made. The Camry will carry an entertainment system called Entune, which lets drivers connect to mobile applications such as Pandora. Analysts say competition from rivals has never been stronger. The Hyundai Sonata has been praised for its sharp styling, fuel economy and price tag â¿¿ it starts at $500 less than the 2011 Camry â¿¿ while General Motors will soon release a redesigned Chevrolet Malibu. The Nissan Altima, Ford Fusion and Honda Accord are also closing in on Camry's lead. ___ Adidas launches barefoot shoe PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) â¿¿ Adidas is going barefoot. The world's second-largest athletic company unveiled its first "barefoot" training shoe Tuesday, which is designed to mimic the experience of exercising barefoot while providing the protection, traction and durability of a shoe. The Adipure Trainer, which is a cross between a glove for the feet and a traditional shoe, hits U.S. stores in November priced at $90. The barefoot shoe is part of a strategy by Adidas, which is based in Germany, to expand into the U.S. where rival Nike dominates. Adidas joins a list of athletic makers trying to tap into the small but burgeoning U.S. market of fanatical runners and gym-goers who swear by shoes designed with as little material between the wearer and the ground as possible. ___ New-home sales fall, 2011 could be worst year yet WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ Sales of new homes fell for the third straight month in July, a sign that housing remains a drag on the economy. If the current pace continues, 2011 would be the worst year for new-home sales on records dating back at least half a century.
Sales fell nearly 1 percent in July to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 298,000, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. That's less than half the 700,000 that economists say represent a healthy market.Last year, 323,000 homes were sold â¿¿ the worst year since 1963. While new homes represent less than one-fifth of the housing market, they have an outsize impact on the economy. Each home built creates an average of three jobs and $90,000 in taxes, according to the National Association of Home Builders. High unemployment, larger required down payments and tougher lending standards are preventing many people from buying homes. ___ FDIC: Number of problem banks fell to 865 in second quarter WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ The number of troubled banks tracked by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. fell in the April-June quarter, the first quarterly drop in five years. Growth in bank earnings slowed, a sign that the financial industry is feeling the effects of a weak economy. The FDIC said Tuesday that there were 865 banks on its confidential "problem" list in the second quarter, or roughly 11.5 percent of all federally insured banks. That was down from 888 in the January-March quarter and the first decline since mid-2006. Those are banks considered to have low capital cushions against risk. The FDIC also said the banking industry earned $28.8 billion in the second quarter, up from $20.9 billion in the same period last year. That marked the eighth straight quarter that earnings rose from the previous year. It was the smallest gain in the past seven quarters. ___ Quake affects NYSE traders, sparks brief sell-off NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ The earthquake that began in Virginia and was felt as far north as New York briefly threatened to reverse Tuesday's stock rally. The Dow Jones industrial average sank 60 points soon after the quake hit, but quickly recovered.
Lou Pastina, head of operations at the New York Stock Exchange, said the street-level trading floor in Lower Manhattan didn't shake. People in many tall buildings in the area felt a rumbling and their employees went outside and gathered on sidewalks, he said. Traders quickly became aware of the quake from television broadcasts.The quake hit at 1:51 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow immediately began falling, then began rising again 32 minutes later, at 2:23 p.m. ___ Administration moves plan to ax hundreds of rules WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ The Obama administration disclosed plans Tuesday to cut or roll back hundreds of federal regulations. The administration says it will streamline tax forms at the Internal Revenue Service, let railroad companies pass on installing expensive new technology, and speed up the visa process for low-risk visitors to the U.S. The administration said the regulations will save businesses up to $10 billion over the next five years and spur job growth in the private sector. The move, announced while President Barack Obama was on vacation in Martha's Vineyard, was the latest White House gesture to reach out to a business community that has often felt alienated from the administration. ___ Medtronic fiscal first-quarter profit slips 1 percent Medtronic Inc., the world's largest medical device maker, saw its fiscal first-quarter earnings slip 1 percent as challenges in two of its biggest businesses countered overseas revenue gains. Sales to international markets like Asia and Latin America are growing by double-digits, but not enough to offset deteriorating demand in the U.S., where tighter hospital budgets and safety concerns have hurt sales of the company's heart and spinal devices. The Minneapolis-based company said net income fell to $821 million, or 77 cents per share, from $830 million, or 76 cents per share. Adjusted earnings, which exclude one-time items, were 79 cents per share, for the quarter that ended July 29.
___Heinz first-quarter net income falls on charges, revenue up H.J. Heinz Co.'s profit for the fiscal first quarter fell 6 percent as the world's largest ketchup maker shuttered plants and slashed jobs. Excluding the cost-cutting measures, results beat Wall Street estimates because of sales growth in emerging markets. Officials said the company's performance exceeded their expectations, despite the fact that Heinz faced challenges in developed markets like the U.S., because of strong growth in places like China and Brazil. Heinz, like most food and beverage companies, has been working to improve efficiency as it faces higher costs for commodities and American consumers that continue to cut back on spending during the economic downturn. Heinz on Tuesday reported profit of $226.1 million, or 70 cents per share, during the three months that ended July 27. That's down from $240.4 million, or 75 cents per share, during the three-month period a year ago. ___ Facebook to let users pre-approve photo tags SAN FRANCISCO (AP) â¿¿ Drunken revelers rejoice: Facebook will now let you decide whether your friends can attach your name to a photo before it is circulated. Currently, your friends can add your name to a photo on Facebook without your consent or knowledge. You can remove it later, but only after lots of others may have seen the embarrassing shots. Now, you can insist on pre-approval. This won't affect whether your friends can add a photo of you, only whether your name is attached to it. Still, not having the name, known as a tag, can make it more difficult for people to find a potentially embarrassing photo in a search. Facebook said on Tuesday that the change is in response to user requests. Pre-approving photo tags has been the most requested change, said Kate O'Neill, product manager for Facebook. The pre-approval process will also apply to written posts that others tag you in. In addition, you have the option of pre-approving what others tag on your own photos and posts.
___The Dow Jones industrial average, which tracks 30 huge U.S. companies including IBM Corp. and General Electric Co., closed with a gain of 3 percent at 11,176.76. Broader indexes did even better, a sign that investors were more willing to take on risk. The S&P 500 index rose 38.53 points, or 3.4 percent, to 1,162.35. The Nasdaq composite, which tracks mainly technology companies, rose 100.68 points, or 4.3 percent, to 2,446.06. The Russell 2000 index of smaller U.S. companies was up 4.9 percent. Benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude rose $1.02 to finish at $85.44 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, which is used to price oil produced abroad, increased 95 cents to $109.31 per barrel in London. In other energy trading, heating oil rose 3.18 cents to end at $2.9425 per gallon and gasoline futures added 4.15 cents to finish at $2.8766 per gallon. Natural gas rose 10.4 cents to end the day at $3.993 per 1,000 cubic feet. ___By The Associated Press(equals)