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Update on the latest business

August 7, 2018


Stocks rise

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are rising again as strong company earnings lift the market. The benchmark S&P 500 index is up for the fourth day in a row and fifth out of the last six. Technology companies and banks are making some of the largest gains. Overseas markets are also higher.

The S&P 500 is trading at its highest levels since Jan. 26, when it closed at its most recent all-time high. After that peak, it dropped 10 percent in nine days as investors worried about signs that inflation was accelerating. That hasn’t materialized, but trade fears have weighed on the market since then.


Open jobs outnumber US unemployed for 3rd straight month

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. employers posted slightly more openings in June than the previous month, resulting in more available jobs than unemployed workers for the third straight month.

The Labor Department says job openings barely increased, rising just 3,000, to 6.66 million. That’s more than the 6.56 million people than were searching for work in June. It’s also close to April’s figure of 6.8 million, a record high. Overall hiring slipped to 5.65 million from 5.75 million and the number of people quitting their jobs declined slightly to 3.4 million from nearly 3.5 million in May.

Businesses are optimistic about the economy and stepping up hiring in anticipation of solid future growth. The economy expanded at a 4.1 percent annual rate in the April-June quarter, the fastest pace in four years.


Trump’s China trade war pulls consumer tech into crossfire

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The prices of headphones, speakers, high-tech lighting and internet service could all go up if the U.S. trade war with China continues.

The Trump administration’s hit list of Chinese products facing import taxes includes key components used in gadgets that can be wirelessly operated through a smartphone or another device. The tariffs also will nail networking equipment that makes the internet work.

It remains unclear how much prices might rise, partly because the next round of tariffs won’t be imposed until the fall.

Big companies might cover the extra costs rather than passing them along to consumers, although experts predict that even the richest companies won’t do so forever.


Icahn warns Cigna investors of dangers in Exp-Scripts deal

NEW YORK (AP) — Carl Icahn is urging Cigna shareholders to vote against the health insurer’s attempted multi-billion dollar takeover of Express Scripts.

In a letter Tuesday, the billionaire and activist investor warned that Express Scripts, a pharmacy benefits manager, faces intense competition from Amazon, regulatory risks and said that it could lose the business of other health insurers that won’t want to deal with a company owned by a rival.

Icahn said Amazon will have no problem competing, given its 100 million members.

Icahn, who holds a stake in Cigna, suggested that the company instead consider multi-year partnerships with a pharmacy benefit manager, possibly even Express Scripts, while the sector deals with the challenges it’s facing.

He recommended Cigna buy back some of its stock, which would benefit Icahn and other shareholders.


Airlines, consumer groups ready for fight over proposed bill

As summer vacationers start to pack up and head home, Congress is considering a sweeping tally of proposals that could affect travelers, from dictating seat size and legroom to rolling back rules that require airlines to advertise the full price of a ticket.

The Senate might call up its version of a major aviation bill soon. The House already passed a bill governing the Federal Aviation Administration in April.

Consumer advocates see victories and setbacks among the provisions in the two bills.

The bills cover topics including minimum distance between rows on airlines, how advertised fares are calculated, a ban on overbooking flights, and barring passengers who are accused of threatening airline employees.


General Electric laying off 200 workers at turbine plant

SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (AP) — General Electric says it’s laying off 200 hourly workers at its upstate New York plant that produces steam turbines for the company’s power unit.

Boston-based GE announced Tuesday that the layoffs include unionized manufacturing and assembly employees at its facilities in Schenectady (skeh-NEHK’-ta-dee), where Thomas Edison co-founded the company in 1892. Another 25 unfilled jobs will be eliminated.

GE Power unit spokesman Christopher Shigas says the layoffs come after a 45 percent drop in volume at the plant.

The Times Union of Albany reports GE employs about 4,000 workers at GE Power and other units in Schenectady. The company employs another 1,500 at GE’s main research lab in the neighboring town of Niskayuna (nihs-kee-YOO’-nuh).

GE laid off 130 hourly workers at the Schenectady plant and Niskayuna facility in January.


Indian ride-hailing service Ola plans UK expansion

LONDON (AP) — Indian ride-hailing service Ola is stepping up its international expansion with plans to launch in the U.K., its second overseas market.

The company said Tuesday it has won operating licenses for South Wales and Greater Manchester. It plans to start services in South Wales next month but didn’t specify when Manchester operations would begin.

Ola said it’s working with local authorities to expand across Britain by the end of 2018. The app-based company says it will offer private cars as well as Britain’s famed black taxis.

The company’s ambitions are set to add pressure on Uber in Britain, where it is facing legal and regulatory scrutiny.

Ola kicked off its global expansion in February by launching in Australia. It says it has 125 million users and 1 million drivers.

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