A summer without swagger for Hollywood
NEW YORK -- Hollywood's summer at the box office isn't just missing nearly 20 percent of last summer's revenue. It's lacking swagger.
Summer is the season for mega-budget, chest-thumping, globe-trotting monstrosities -- films so big they lure droves of Americans with heavily promoted promises of shock and awe.
But this season's blockbuster output has been curiously low on the summer's stock in trade: bigness.
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Two months into the summer, there haven't been any $300 million grossers at the North American box office.
The only movie to surpass $100 million in its weekend debut was "Transformers: Age of Extinction," and it did so by such a small smidge that some box-office watchers claimed it was artificially inflated.
The Fourth of July, the customary launching pad for some of Hollywood's flashiest fireworks, was the worst July 4th weekend in at least a decade.
Oil on 2-week slide even with Mideast turmoil
NEW YORK -- The price of oil fell for the ninth straight day Wednesday as global supplies continue to flow despite unrest in the world's most important oil-producing region.
The prolonged drop could lead to lower gasoline prices for U.S. drivers in the weeks ahead.
In the Middle East, the insurgency in Iraq is far from resolved, but hasn't halted oil exports.
The fighting now seems unlikely to spread to Iraq's major oil fields. Tensions between Israel and Hamas have escalated in the past week, but aren't threatening any major oil production.
On the supply side, Libyan crude exports appear poised to surge after an agreement between the government and local militias cleared the way for export terminals to open.
And U.S. production continues to soar.
Alcoa helps lift market after 2 days of declines
NEW YORK -- Corporate earnings season got off to a positive start Wednesday, helping lift the stock market after two days of declines.
The market opened higher and remained modestly higher throughout the day. Stocks climbed further after the Federal Reserve released minutes from its latest policy meeting in June.
The biggest gainer in the Standard & Poor's 500 index was Alcoa.
The aluminum giant's earnings, which investors consider to be the official start of the quarterly corporate earnings season, came in well above Wall Street's expectations.
Alcoa earned $138 million, or 18 cents a share, compared with analysts' estimates of 12 cents a share, according to FactSet. Alcoa rose 84 cents, or 6 percent, to $15.69.
-- Herald wire reports