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Business update: Obama touts small business bill

President Barack Obama exhorted Congress today to make passing a long-languishing small business aid package its first order of business when it returns next month from its summer break. “I ask Senate Republicans to drop the blockade,” Obama said in the Rose Garden after meeting with his economic advisers. Acknowledging that the economy still remains extremely fragile, the president said he’d also have other specific ideas in the days ahead. He mentioned extending Bush tax cuts due to expire this year for households making under $250,000 a year, upping the nation’s investment in clean energy, rebuilding more roads and highways and tax cuts designed to keep jobs in the U.S.

Chrysler dealers hear plans to sell Fiat minicars: Chrysler today told 400 dealers about its plans to bring the Fiat brand back to the U.S. after a 30-year absence, starting with the Fiat 500 minicar later this year. Fiat-run Chrysler Group LLC wants the bulb-shaped 500 to become a strong contender in the U.S. small-car market, where the Detroit automaker has struggled for years. The car will be sold by about 165 Chrysler Group dealers in 125 mainly big-city markets starting in December.

Updated car stickers to include environmental info: Car shoppers will receive more details on window stickers about fuel efficiency, emissions, energy costs and energy consumption under a new government proposal for 2012 model year vehicles. The Transportation Department and Environmental Protection Agency are announcing the proposed stickers today. Options include letter grades of A+ to D for the vehicle’s overall fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions or keeping the current label’s approach on miles per gallon and annual fuel costs with an updated design. Consumers scan the window stickers when shopping for a new car or truck.

Activists seek ban on mountaintop removal mining: Activists from Appalachia are calling on the Obama administration to end the practice of mountaintop removal coal mining. The administration has set out to curb the practice, but the activists said it hasn’t done enough. They announced plans at a news conference today for a rally in Washington next month, and are inviting the president to attend. In mountaintop removal mining, forests are clear-cut, explosives blast apart the rock, and machines scoop out the exposed coal.

Consumer spending rises 0.4 percent in July: Americans spent last month at the fastest pace in four months, helped by a jump in demand for automobiles. Consumer spending rose 0.4 percent in July after three lackluster months, the Commerce Department said today. Spending fell 0.1 percent in April, rose a tiny 0.1 percent in May and was flat in June. Personal incomes were up 0.2 percent in July, less than expected but at least an improvement over June when incomes had not risen at all.

Google, AP reach new deal on licensing rights: Google Inc. will be able to continue posting content from The Associated Press under a new licensing deal the two companies announced today after months of sometimes thorny negotiations. The AP said in a statement that the two companies also will work together in ways to improve discovery and distribution of news. Financial terms and the duration of the contract were not disclosed.

Stocks drop as investors enter week cautiously: Stocks fell today after further signs of slowing growth added to caution ahead of the government’s crucial jobs report later in the week.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell nearly 50 points in afternoon trading. Broader indexes also dropped. With investors concerned about the health of the economy, money again flowed into the bond market, sending interest rates lower.