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Profits up at designer bag maker Vera Bradley

Vera Bradley Inc. on Wednesday reported second fiscal quarter earnings of $14.95 million, or 37 cents per diluted share, a 12 percent increase over the $13.37 million, or 33 cents a share, posted for the same 13-week period in 2012.

The company also reported net revenue of $125.4 million for the period ended Aug. 3, a 2 percent increase over the previous year’s second fiscal quarter.

The Fort Wayne-based manufacturer designs and makes quilted cotton handbags, luggage, accessories and home décor items.

Like many retailers, Vera Bradley follows a fiscal calendar that ends in late January.

CEO Michael Ray said results were in line with expectations for what was a difficult second quarter.

“Nonetheless, our product offering underperformed in the midst of an uncertain consumer environment, which affected traffic in our retail stores,” Ray said in a statement. While optimistic about the long term, “we continue to have a cautious outlook for the remainder of the year.”

Vera Bradley’s stock was up 48 cents to close Wednesday at $19.45 on the Nasdaq stock exchange.

Company officials released earnings after markets closed.

Economists give nod to Yellen as Fed chief

More than 350 economists have a signed a letter to President Barack Obama calling on him to nominate Federal Reserve Vice Chair Janet Yellen to be the Fed’s next chairman.

The letter is designed to draw attention back to Yellen amid signs that Obama is leaning toward nominating his former economic adviser Larry Summers.

The letter, whose signers include economists with past ties to Obama, credits Yellen for prescience in warning in 2005 about an impending real estate meltdown, for her consensus style of leadership and for her commitment to job growth.

Obama is expected to announce his nomination as early as this month.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke’s term ends Jan. 31, 2014.

The White House on Tuesday declined to comment when asked about the letter.

Case against merger flawed, airlines say

American Airlines and US Airways say the government’s opposition to their planned merger shows that it doesn’t understand the airline industry.

The Justice Department and several states sued last month to block the merger, on grounds that it would hurt consumers.

The airlines said in court filings that the U.S. Justice Department’s analysis of the merger ignores competition that now exists from low-cost carriers such as Southwest.

American Airlines says the government instead relies on “anecdotes involving small numbers of passengers” and an idealized but outdated vision of the industry.