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Stocks open slightly higher...

June 6, 2018

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are slightly higher, led by gains in big banks and energy companies. The Dow got an early boost by gains in Exxon and Goldman Sachs. Financial stocks are rising in tandem with interest rates.

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. productivity grew at an annual rate of just 0.4 percent in the first quarter, even weaker than initially estimated, while labor costs rose at a bit faster pace. The Labor Department says the January-March productivity increase was revised down from the 0.7 percent gain initially estimated a month ago. Labor costs rose 2.9 percent, up from an initial estimate of a 2.7 percent gain in the first quarter.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Record exports shaved the U.S. trade deficit in April for the second straight month. But so far this year, the deficit is up 11.5 percent from a year ago despite President Donald Trump’s vow to reduce the gap through new tariffs on imports and renegotiated trade deals. The Commerce Department says the trade deficit dropped to $46.2 billion in April, down from $47.2 billion in March and lowest since September.

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union says it will start imposing duties from July on a list of U.S. products in response to President Donald Trump’s decision to slap tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Europe. European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic said today that formalities in finalizing the list should be completed this month and that “the new duties start applying from July.”

LONDON (AP) — France, Germany and Britain are asking the United States to exempt European companies from sanctions on Iran. The three nations’ foreign and finance ministers have sent a letter to U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The European ministers say they “strongly regret” the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from an international nuclear agreement with Iran.

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