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Bernard Condon
Associated Press|ap.org

Josh Boak and 
Bernard Condon, AP Business Writers

NEW YORK (AP) — Europe appears on the brink of another recession. Islamic militants have seized Iraqi territory. Russian troops have massed on the Ukraine border, and the resulting sanctions are disrupting trade. An Ebola outbreak in Africa and Israel’s war in Gaza are contributing to the gloom.

It’s been a grim summer in much of the world. Yet investors in the United States have largely shrugged it off — so far at least. read more »

 

NEW YORK (AP) — Nearly 2 million people around the world became millionaires last year, a year-over-year increase of 15 percent, as surging stock and home markets lifted the fortunes of the wealthy. The increase raised the number of millionaires to a record 13.7 million.

A report from consultant Capgemini and the Royal Bank of Canada estimated the combined net worth of millionaires at $53 trillion in 2013. That was up 14 percent from the year earlier — the second-biggest increase since the two companies began issuing wealth reports with comparable data in 2000. read more »

 

NEW YORK — Nancy Strumwasser, a high school teacher from Mountain Lakes, N.J., always thought she’d have two children. But the layoffs that swept over the U.S. economy around the time her son was born six years ago helped change her mind. Though she and her husband, a market researcher, managed to keep their jobs, she fears they won’t be so fortunate next time.

“After we had a kid in 2009, I thought, ‘This is not happening again,’” says Strumwasser, 41, adding, “I never really felt comfortable about jobs, how solid they can be.” read more »

 

NEW YORK — It’s the narcissist rally.

Sure, there are plenty of forces pushing stocks higher — record corporate earnings, small investors finally buying again, signs the U.S. economy may be strengthening, central banks flooding the financial system with money.

But you may want to spare a thought, and a healthy dose of worry, for what is one of the biggest, and least appreciated, reasons for the rally: buybacks.

Flush with cash and a world of opportunity at their doorstep, companies have decided there’s nothing more attractive than themselves. So, they’re offering big money to buy back their own stock.

This year, big U.S. companies have given the go-ahead for $286 billion of buybacks, up 88 percent from the same period last year, according to Birinyi Associates, a market-research firm. If the pace continues for the rest of the year, the tally will exceed the record set in 2007. read more »

 
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