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    Official China manufacturing PMI weakens to 50.0 in July. BEIJING-- A gauge of China's factory activity slipped in July, pointing to further sluggishness in the key manufacturing sector of the world's second-largest economy. Analysts said the relatively weak reading in the official China Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index reflected a continuing trend of weak demand at home and abroad, a battered property sector and added pressure from a swooning stock market.

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    Greece hasn't been the only topic of conversation among eurozone finance ministers recently. Little noticed among the crisis hoopla, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who leads the group, noted a discussion the ministers probably relished far more: the possibilities presented by savings from ultralow interest rates. Take Germany, the country with the lowest eurozone bond yields.

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    Skiing outside of Beijing has long been an icy and treacherous affair. Like everywhere else in China, the hills tend to be packed with people. And most seemed to spend their time sprawled out on the hill, forming a human obstacle course.China’s winter sports abilities are sure to improve a lot before 2022, when Beijing is now slated to host the Winter Olympics Games. On Friday, the International Olympic Committee voted 44-40 to have Beijing hold the winter games, over Almaty, Kazakhstan.Human rights activists criticized the move, citing China’s repression of dissent ahead of the 2008 Olympics. Other decried China’s thick and smoggy air. And some pointed to Beijing’s lack of snow and unfamiliarity with winter sports: According to the state-run People’s Daily, fewer than 5 percent of people in Beijing currently ski, and almost all of them are beginners.But the most serious objection to the games might be economic. While the winter games will attract tourists and raise China’s profile abroad, history suggests it will come at the cost of useless construction and more debt — things that China already has plenty of.Beijing said it would re-use infrastructure from 2008, including the iconic “Bird’s Nest” stadium designed by Ai Weiwei before he fell out of favor for the opening and closing ceremony. The “Water Cube,” the swimming center during the 2008, would be transformed for curling. But about half of the venues for the games would be new, and 600 new hotels and a high-speed rail line would be built for the occasion.It’s easy to understand China’s motivation in holding the event. The government has used international events as "coming out parties" for almost all of its cities over the past few decades: Beijing Olympics in 2008, the Shanghai Expo in 2010, and Guangzhou Asian Games the same year.All of these events brought face to local governments and raised China’s prestige and profile. They served as a reason and a deadline for cleaning up these cities -- building subways and roads, knocking down old neighborhoods, even teaching people English. But they also left behind useless infrastructure and conceivably huge debts.Hosting the Olympics typically is not a boon for an economy. As my colleague Max Ehrenfreund has written, international sporting events are often enormously expensive and don’t deliver the benefits that organizers expect — the increase in tourism usually doesn’t offset the cost of building stadiums and other infrastructure. The winter Olympics in Sochi left Russia with a $50 billion price tag; Greece's bid for the 2004 summer games certainly hasn't helped its economy today.Most developed country democracies seem to be recognizing this. Oslo, Munich and Stockholm all bowed out of bidding for the 2022 Winter Olympics, after their citizens complained about the potential cost. Only emerging economies and autocracies are eager to bid.For those who know the Chinese economy, Beijing's plan to hold a second Olympics (the first-ever city to do so) is particularly worrying. Economists regularly accuse China of having an addiction to wasteful infrastructure spending to prop up growth.Chinese leaders have been talking for years now about transitioning the economy away from its heavy dependence on investment in things like roads and real estate toward a focus on consumers and the service sector, a process that is commonly known as “rebalancing.”In a developing country of more than a billion people, much of this new infrastructure has been incredibly useful. High speed trains have allowed mega cities to flourish, and new highways and cold storage have been important for expanding retail. But a lot of money has also been misspent, particularly on pet projects of local governments.The area around Beijing, in northern China, is particularly problematic. Earlier this year, the government embarked on a plan to create a supercity around Beijing that would be about the size of Kansas and hold 130 million people. Tianjin, which will be included in that super city, is building its own replica of Manhattan, like New York City except empty of people. China has also built a massive water infrastructure project at a cost of more than $30 billion to bring water to that arid north.In the short run, those investments are all counted as economic growth. But in the longer run, they could easily prove to be money-wasting endeavors.It’s already taking more and more financial fuel to keep the Chinese economy going, and debt is building up at a worrying rate. Outstanding loans for companies and households were 207 percent of gross domestic at the end of June, up from 125 percent in 2008, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.The economy grew 7 percent in the second quarter compared with the year earlier, but corporate and household debt rose 12 percent in the same period.As long as the economy is roaring along, that debt isn’t that much of an issue. But if growth continues to slow, borrowers could default on their loans, and those effects would ripple through the economy. Slowing growth has already propelled nonperforming loans to a record $23 billion in the first quarter, and that number will likely continue to grow.The 2008 Olympics was a great show, and there’s little doubt that China could it off again. But at what cost?You might also like:-How olive oil explains Greece’s problems-The dark side of China’s heavy-handed response to its plunging stock markets-A stunning new look from space at nature, North Korea and Chipotle






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    * Canadian dollar at C$1.3080 or 76.45 U.S. cents * Weakest finish since Aug. 2004 * Bond prices higher across the maturity curve By Solarina Ho TORONTO, July 31 - The Canadian dollar finished the session at its weakest level in more than a decade against the U.S. dollar on Friday, burdened by U.S. crude prices that had their biggest monthly fall since 2008 and figures that showed the Canadian ...

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    * TSX ends up 85.66 points, or 0.60 percent, at 14,468.44. * Index gained 3.3 pct on week; off 0.6 pct in July. By Alastair Sharp. Canada's main stock index notched its fourth straight day of gains on Friday, with the heavily weighted financials and materials sectors leading the way as investors sought value after a bleak couple of months.

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    Canada's main stock index ended higher on Friday, its fourth straight session of gains, as investors saw value in some beaten-down miners and banks that have also been under pressure. The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index unofficially closed up 85.66 points, or 0.60 percent, at 14,468.44. It gained 3.3 percent on the week after a sharp slide to below 14,000 last week.

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    By Joseph Adinolfi, MarketWatch, Hiroyuki Kachi. But its weekly performance wasn't quite as impressive. The U.S. dollar finished Friday's session with monthly gains against most of its rivals.

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    (Stock exchange corrects in para 3 to say that volatility limits would stay at 30 pct) Foreign investors will not face restrictions on operations when trade resumes at Greece's stock exchange on Monday following a five-week shutdown caused by capital controls, a stock exchange spokeswoman said.

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    * FTSEurofirst 300 index up 0.1 pct. * Index up 4 pct for July after June losses. * Merger hopes help German stocks outperform. * Commodities shares track weaker oil, metals. * UCB, BNP Paribas, Natixis up after results. By Atul Prakash.

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    The volatility limit at Greece's stock exchange will be reduced to 20 percent from the current 30 percent when the bourse reopens on Monday following a five-week shutdown caused by capital controls, the exchange said on Friday.

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    European stock indexes notched gains Friday, while the euro rose after the release of inflation figures for the eurozone that may help the European Central Bank chart its next move. After spending much of the session switching between small gains and losses, the Stoxx Europe 600 finished up less than 1 point at 396.37. The pan-European index closed with a weekly gain of 0.4%.

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    U.K. stocks stepped higher Friday, helped by jumps by Rolls-Royce and Carnival, to end up with sizable gains for the week and month. The FTSE 100 tacked on 0.4% to finish at 6,696.28. The benchmark achieved a weekly rise of 1.8% and monthly advance of 2.7%, its best month since April.

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    Greece's stock market will reopen on Monday after a five-week shutdown, with restrictions on securities trading by local investors, a spokeswoman for the bourse said on Friday soon after a ministerial decree was issued.

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    When the New York Stock Exchange halted trading for nearly four hours on July 8, it raised an important question: How vulnerable are the markets to hackers? Video: Facebook unveils Internet-beaming drone with wingspan of a 737. Facebook's drone is designed to fly for 90 days above weather systems, bringing Internet connectivity to remote regions where cell towers or fiber-optic cable may be difficult to deploy.

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    * TSX up 87.31 points, or 0.61 percent, to 14,470.09. * Seven of the TSX's 10 main groups rise. By Solarina Ho. Canada's main stock index was headed for its fourth straight day of gains on Friday with the heavily weighted financials and materials sectors leading the way as investors sought value after a bleak couple of months for the market.

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    China posts its worst monthly performance in six years. Ahead of Friday's open, the S&P 500 index is set to finish the month of July up 2.2%, while the Nasdaq Composite is looking at a gain of nearly 3%. In fact, the S&P 500' s gains in July are on pace to be the second-best monthly performance of the year, behind February's 5.5% rally and the Nasdaq Composite Index's monthly gain is second-best to a 7% surge in February.