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Business update: Obama signs financial overhaul

Reveling in victory, President Barack Obama today signed into law the most sweeping reform of financial regulations since the Great Depression, a package that aims to protect consumers and ensure economic stability from Main Street to Wall Street. The law gives the government new powers to break up companies that threaten the economy, creates a new agency to guard consumers in their financial transactions and puts more light on the financial markets that escaped the oversight of regulators.

Senate poised to OK jobless benefits for millions: Senate Democrats broke a GOP filibuster and set the stage for a vote today on legislation that would restore jobless benefits for millions of people unable to find work. After the Democratic-controlled Senate voted 60-40 Tuesday to move ahead on the bill, approval became a formality. The measure would go to the House for a final vote and on to President Obama. At issue are payments averaging $309 a week for almost 5 million people whose 26 weeks of state benefits have run out.

US Bancorp profit up; bad loans to keep shrinking: U.S. Bancorp’s second-quarter profit nearly quadrupled and its CEO said the amount of bad loans should shrink in the next quarter, as defaults by consumers and businesses level off. Several measures of the bank’s credit quality improved compared with the first quarter, although they were worse than a year earlier. Loans on which people have stopped making payments, and loans written off by the bank, should both decrease in the current quarter, the bank said.

Wells Fargo 2Q profit rises as bad loans ease: Wells Fargo & Co. today said its second-quarter profit rose 12 percent, and the results show signs that bad loans are easing. Wells Fargo said its average checking and savings deposits rose 10 percent from a year ago, showing strength in its consumer banking division. The positive signs came from improvement in Wells Fargo’s lending business. The bank said it had reduced losses in home equity, mortgages, consumer lines and loans, auto dealer services and credit cards.

Morgan Stanley profit jumps, tops forecasts: Morgan Stanley said today its second-quarter net income rose to $1.58 billion, easily topping forecasts as its Smith Barney brokerage helped the bank recover from a loss a year ago. The company, hurt a year ago by a conservative trading strategy and steep losses on real estate investments, was able to beat analysts’ overall revenue and profit expectations for this latest quarter.

Stocks fluctuate on mixed batch of earnings news: Stocks fluctuated today as traders pored over a mixed batch of earnings reports. Apple Inc., Coca-Cola Co. and two major banks beat expectations, but Yahoo Inc. disappointed the market. Traders were also wary ahead of congressional testimony later in the day from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. The Fed recently lowered its long-term forecast for U.S. economic growth.