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Baidu rebound buys time for reinvention

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HONG KONG (Reuters Breakingviews) - A recovery at Baidu buys time for reinvention. On Thursday, the Chinese web giant reported a forecast-beating jump in quarterly earnings, suggesting its core search business is rebounding. This gives Baidu more room to focus on mobile services and artificial intelligence.

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Amazon rides open road with few bumps

NEW YORK (Reuters Breakingviews) - The open road in front of Amazon has few bumps. The $500 billion internet retailer reported top-line growth up a riveting 25 percent to $38 billion in the second quarter. Investors will fret about the sky-high valuation in relation to a bottom line that plunged 77 percent from a year earlier to under $200 million in the quarter. But feedback loops within the company keep rivals at bay.

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Viewsroom: Citi lays out path to mediocrity

NEW YORK (Reuters Breakingviews) - CEO Mike Corbat pledged a huge earnings boost at the bank’s first investor confab in nine years. But Citi’s enduring crisis hangover will still leave it trailing most rivals. In China, HNA’s shadowy ownership may be a big problem for U.S. M&A. Plus: Google keeps clicking.

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Cox: Colombia's peace dividend won't come easy

NEW YORK (Reuters Breakingviews) - On the July feast day of Vereda del Carmen's patron saint, a priest accompanied by an acolyte bearing a chalice of holy water traverses the rutted dirt track that links the village with the rest of Colombia and the world. The cleric showers water from his aspergillum on pickup trucks alongside the road, their hoods popped up and windows rolled down to receive the blessing. | Video

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Lloyds is a good bank in a bad place

LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Lloyds is a good bank in a bad place: Britain. The UK lender beat earnings expectations in the second quarter. The productivity of its loan book is rising and costs are falling relative to income. If it weren’t for fears about Britain’s exit from the European Union, and a seemingly bottomless pit of charges for past bad behaviour, Lloyds could be worth 10 percent more. Sadly, what is matters more to investors than what might be.

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Shell gets everything right except producing oil

LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Royal Dutch Shell is great at producing profit, but less so at producing oil. The Anglo-Dutch energy giant has more than tripled its earnings in the second quarter, helped by the strong performance of its downstream refining business and recovering prices. With its debt falling too, the company is doing the right things for shareholders – except in the crucial area of pumping more fuel.

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U.S. crackdown on Hong Kong auditors lacks force

HONG KONG The American crackdown on Hong Kong auditors won't change much. U.S. regulators have revoked the registration of a mid-sized auditor after it refused to share the papers of an unnamed mainland issuer, on orders from Beijing - the second such punishment against a Hong Kong accountant. This sanction won't sting the target, nor does it resolve bigger problems in a weak U.S.-China audit agreement. Unfortunately renegotiation seems unlikely.

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Facebook quest beyond ads should top itinerary

NEW YORK (Reuters Breakingviews) - It’s time for Facebook to start looking beyond Madison Avenue. The social network beat profit estimates in the latest quarter as more brands sought to reach its 2 billion users. Yet the torrid pace of revenue growth is cooling off, mobile’s share of advertising has limited upside, and regulators are increasingly questioning the company’s dominance.

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SEC brings dodgy digital-currency sales to earth

NEW YORK (Reuters Breakingviews) - The ballooning market for so-called initial coin offerings – which has boomed to $1.3 billion so far this year – just got a reality check. The Securities and Exchange Commission has decided that last year’s largest sale of crypto-currency tokens, reminiscent of an initial public offering of shares, was indeed a sale of securities and should have complied with U.S. laws governing the process and protecting investors.

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EU play for primary dealers may speed their demise

LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Primary dealers are an odd choice for Europe’s next financial land-grab. Officials in the EU may force banks who buy sovereign debt directly to move some jobs out of London after Brexit to retain the privilege, Reuters reported on Wednesday. This could make a business whose appeal is dwindling even less attractive.

About Breakingviews

Reuters Breakingviews is the world's leading source of agenda-setting financial insight. As the Reuters brand for financial commentary, we dissect the big business and economic stories as they break around the world every day. A global team of about 30 correspondents in New York, London, Hong Kong and other major cities provides expert analysis in real time. Sign up for a free trial of our full service at http://www.breakingviews.com/trial and follow us on Twitter @Breakingviews and at www.breakingviews.com. All opinions expressed are those of the authors.