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Britain considers new high-speed rail to Scotland

London (AP) — Britain’s rail operator says it has plans for a new high-speed rail line that could get travelers from London to Scotland in two hours.

Network Rail said on Wednesday it has developed proposals for a $55 billion line through cities in western Britain, including Manchester and Liverpool.

Trains would run at 200 mph and cut the current 4 hour, 40 minute trip from London to Edinburgh by more than half.

The plans would need government approval and the project would likely be paid for by a private sector consortium, Network Rail says.

Durable goods orders rise 4.9 percent in July, the most in 2 years

Washington (AP) — Orders for durable goods rose last month by the largest amount in two years, as the manufacturing sector rebounded from the depths of the recession.

The Commerce Department said Wednesday that orders for goods expected to last at least three years increased 4.9 percent in July, the third rise in the past four months. Orders for transportation equipment, which rose 18.4 percent, drove the overall increase in durable goods. Commercial aircraft orders, a volatile category, more than doubled after falling 30 percent in June. Motor vehicle orders increased 0.9 percent.
Excluding transportation goods, orders rose 0.8 percent. That was the third straight increase.

U.S. thrifts earn $4 million in second quarter; 40 on ‘problem’ list

Washington (AP) — U.S. thrifts eked out a $4 million profit in the second quarter, but the number of troubled institutions continued to rise, the government said Wednesday.

The Office of Thrift Supervision said the small profit in the April-June period marked the industry’s first positive earnings since the third quarter of 2007. It compared with a loss of $5.4 billion in the year-ago period, and $1.62 billion in the first quarter of this year.

“Problem thrifts” on the agency’s confidential list, those rated by examiners as having significantly low capital reserves and other deficiencies, rose to 40. That’s up from 31 in the first quarter and 17 a year earlier.

Thrifts differ from banks in that, by law, they must have at least 65 percent of their lending in mortgages and other consumer loans — making them particularly vulnerable to the housing downturn.

Premier: China to work toward curbing industry overcapacity

Beijing (AP) — China’s Cabinet said Wednesday it will try to curb overcapacity and excessive investment in industries including steel and cement — a possible side effect of its massive stimulus plan.

Citing a decision announced after a Cabinet meeting led by Premier Wen Jiabao, the country’s top economic official, the official Xinhua News Agency said measures would include strict enforcement of environmental standards and market access.

China’s $586 billion stimulus is based on higher spending on construction of highways and other public works, which has encouraged steel and cement companies to expand production.

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