Rolls-Royce reports startling demand for their cars

They are rolling symbols of wealth and excess, starting at $263,000 a pop, with many buyers choosing custom options that can easily double the price. And they are more popular than ever before.

Rolls-Royce reported a startling rise in demand for their distinctive cars Tuesday. The company said 1,968 cars were sold in the first half of this year compared to 1,475 in the same period last year.

Vatican bank reports drop in profits after Pope’s reforms

The Vatican bank on Tuesday reported a big drop in profits as Pope Francis presses reforms to make the scandal-tainted institution more transparent.

The bank, formally called Institute for Religious Works, said its net profit in 2013 fell to $4 million from $118 million the previous year. The income statement lists a loss of $19.5 million attributed to a ”donation” of securities to a Holy See foundation. It didn’t elaborate, but news reports have said a top Vatican cardinal had transferred some 15 million euros to an Italian film company considered close to the Vatican and that the transaction was under investigation. The bank continues to close accounts that don’t meet tighter regulatory standards.

Trade group proposes council to stave off cyber attacks

Wall Street’s biggest trade group has proposed a government-industry cyber war council to stave off terrorist attacks that could trigger financial panic by temporarily wiping out account balances, according to an internal document.

The proposal by the Securities Industry and Financial Market Association, known as Sifma, calls for a committee of executives and deputy-level representatives from at least eight U.S. agencies including the Treasury Department, the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security, all led by a senior White House official.

The trade association also reveals in the document that Sifma has retained former NSA director Keith Alexander to “facilitate” the joint effort with the government.