Stocks up in early trading ahead of Fed statement US homebuilder confidence soars in September US consumer prices fall 0.2 percent in August Financial markets awaiting any Fed signal on rates FedEx to add 50,000 seasonal jobs US current account deficit dips to $98.5 billion Alibaba post-IPO structure gives insiders control Sony forecasts $2 B loss as smartphones lag Family Dollar opposes Dollar General overture Trian wants DuPont to split its business» Read More
Oct 24- The U.S. Department of Interior granted a lease for an offshore wind farm off the coast of Delaware to a unit of U.S. power company NRG Energy, which decided in December to put the project on hold due to financial considerations.
*Boeing climbs after earnings, outlook. NEW YORK, Oct 24- U.S. stocks were little changed on Wednesday, supported by a slight pickup in manufacturing and a surge in new home sales, while Boeing gave the Dow a boost after raising its full-year forecast.
GENK, Belgium/ MADRID, Oct 24- Ford Motor Co will close a Belgian factory employing more than 4,000 workers, shifting production to Spain as the U.S. automaker scrambles to cut costs and stem European losses. Ford said it would shut its Genk plant in eastern Belgium, with the loss of about 4,300 jobs by the end of 2014, transferring the work to a plant in Valencia.
NEW YORK-- Stocks that moved substantially or traded heavily Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq Stock Market:. Corning Inc., down $1.26 at $12.15. Lorillard Inc., down $4.08 at $111.70.
NEW YORK-- Best Buy says two executives, including its U.S. president, are leaving the company as it eliminates the most senior level of its U.S. operations to become more streamlined. Best Buy is facing increasing competition from online retailers and discounters. Mike Vitelli, president of Best Buy's U.S. business, will resign when the fiscal year ends Feb. 3.
NEW YORK-- Whiting Petroleum Corp. said Wednesday that it posted a profit in the third quarter as production rose 17 percent, while prices for oil, natural gas and natural gas liquids fell. In the quarter that ended Sept. 30, Whiting reported net income of $82.9 million, or 70 cents per share.
COMING TAX CHANGES: A generous estate-tax exemption window is scheduled to close Dec. 31. Currently, you can give up to $5.12 million without incurring federal estate or gift taxes. Those exemptions drop to $1 million unless Congress acts, subjecting more than just the ultra-rich to big tax bites.
CHICAGO-- Taxes that are largely a concern of the very rich will soon affect far more people unless Congress steps in. Financial advisers, and trust and estate attorneys have been flooded with requests for assistance in the final months before the record-high exemption for both taxes is scheduled to plunge to $1 million from $5.12 million on Jan 1.
*Preliminary hearing in High Court on Monday. LONDON, Oct 24- Barclays will on Monday face the first claim for damages stemming from manipulation of the Libor interest rate in a landmark case before Britain's High Court that could have major implications for all UK banks.
CAMBRIDGE, Mass.-- Online content-delivery company Akamai Technologies Inc. said Wednesday that its third-quarter earnings rose 14 percent from a year ago as revenue grew. Net income in the three months to Sept. 30 rose to $48.2 million, or 27 cents per share, from $42.3 million, or 23 cents per share, a year ago.
*First court verdict to thwart Gazprom's take-or-pay claim. *Gazprom paid $2.5 bln to European firms as part of pricing deal. PRAGUE/ MOSCOW, Oct 24- RWE Transgas, the Czech unit of Germany's RWE, has won a landmark dispute with Gazprom over gas contracts, after a court ruled for the first time that a company did not have to pay fines under a ``take-or-pay'' clause.
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina-- Argentina's new media regulator said Wednesday that he's prepared to auction off the broadcast licenses of the government's leading critic.
NIWOT, Colo.-- Crocs Inc., which makes colorful plastic shoes, said Wednesday that its net income rose 49 percent in the third quarter, helped by strength in the U.S. and Asia. But the company said demand slowed in Asia, particularly Japan, as the third quarter progressed, and it offered a fourth-quarter outlook below analysts' expectations.
THE NUMBERS: Business software maker SAP AG's third-quarter profit fell 51 percent because of a large year-ago gain stemming from a legal settlement. But revenue grew 16 percent, and the company lifted its sales outlook for the year.
PHOENIX-- Trucking company Knight Transportation Inc. said the third quarter was tougher than expected, as high fuel prices and a weak economy hurt demand for freight-shipping, resulting in flat earnings. The company said Wednesday that its net income was $16.6 million, or 21 cents per share, virtually the same results as the 2011 third quarter.
NEW YORK-- The dollar traded in tight ranges against the euro Wednesday after the Federal Reserve said the economy is improving only moderately and still needs its support to help lower unemployment. The euro slipped to $1.2973 in late trading Wednesday from $1.2976 late Tuesday. In other trading, the British pound rose to $1.6036 from $1.5942.
PONTIAC, Michigan, Oct 24- General Motors Co said the redesigned 2014 Chevrolet Corvette that goes on sale next year will get a new 450- horsepower V8 engine.
COCOA BUZZKILL: Cocoa fell 4 percent on reports of good production in several African nations, including the Ivory Coast. Traders also speculated about the potential for diminishing demand in financially troubled Europe, home to the biggest number of chocolate consumers.
HIGHER SALES: U.S. sales of new homes jumped last month to the highest level in more than two years, the latest evidence of a sustained housing recovery that could boost the sluggish economy.
*Swiss to vote on curbing executive pay on March 3. ZURICH, Oct 24- Swiss business is rallying to arms to defend top managers' pay as the government set a date on Wednesday for a referendum that may impose the world's first law forcing companies to accept any limits shareholders place on executive rewards.