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Business Highlights

October 5, 2018

Not since 1969: US regains ultra-low 3.7 pct. unemployment

The last time the U.S. unemployment rate was as low as the 3.7 percent it is now— December 1969 — the economy was overheating, inflation was spiking and a short recession soon followed. Could that happen again? Probably not anytime soon, most economists say. Yet there are some surprising similarities between today’s economy and the late 1960s, when the unemployment rate remained mostly below 4 percent for four straight years.

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US unemployment falls to 3.7 percent — lowest since 1969

The U.S. unemployment rate has fallen to 3.7 percent, the lowest since 1969, when young men were being drafted to fight in Vietnam and the American auto industry and the space program were going full blast. The Labor Department reported Friday that the rate edged down from 3.9 percent the month before as employers added 134,000 jobs. That extended an extraordinary 8½-year streak of monthly job growth, the longest on record.

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Mattress Firm files for bankruptcy, closing up to 700 stores

HOUSTON (AP) — Mattress Firm, Inc., the nation’s largest mattress retailer, is filing for bankruptcy protection and plans to close up to 700 stores around the country. The Houston-based company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Friday in federal court in Delaware. According to court documents, Mattress Firm has more than $1 billion in liabilities and has more than 50,000 creditors. It owes its largest creditor, mattress maker Simmons Manufacturing Co., nearly $65 million.

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Pass It On: Advice for businesses from Stephen Badger

NEW YORK (AP) — The chairman of Mars Inc. says companies should place a huge importance on who they hire. Stephen Badger also suggests that managers and business owners listen to their gut when making decisions.

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Record imports push US trade gap to $53.2 billion in August

Record imports drove the U.S. trade deficit up for the third straight month in August. The deficits in the trade of goods with China and Mexico hit records. The Commerce Department says the trade gap — the difference between what America sells and what it buys abroad — rose to $53.2 billion in August from $50 billion in July.

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CBS hires firm to advise on $20m for #MeToo groups

NEW YORK (AP) — CBS has hired the consulting firm Rally to help disperse $20 million to groups dedicated to supporting #MeToo and promoting workplace safety and equality for women. The announcement comes less than a month after the company parted ways with CEO Les Moonves after multiple allegations of sexual misconduct.

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Amazon’s $15 an hour a win? Not so, some veteran workers say

NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon’s announcement that it would raise its hourly minimum wage to $15 has been seen as a win for workers. But some longtime employees say they are losing out. Those who already made $15 will get an extra $1 an hour when the change is made next month, but they will also lose two benefits: monthly bonuses that could top hundreds of dollars and a chance to own Amazon’s sky-rocketing stock.

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Musk takes swipe at SEC on heels of fraud settlement

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Elon Musk is taunting the government regulators who threatened to oust him as CEO of electric carmaker Tesla just days after he settled a case alleging he duped investors. Musk used his Twitter account to jab the Securities and Exchange Commission, the same agency that went after him for declaring he had secured financing for a Tesla buyout. In a Thursday tweet, Musk sarcastically praised the “Shortseller Enrichment Commission” for “doing incredible work.”

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Toyota recalls 2.4 million hybrids due to stalling problems

TOKYO (AP) — Toyota Motor Corp. says it has issued a recall for 2.43 million hybrid vehicles in Japan and elsewhere for problems with stalling. The company said Friday that in rare cases the vehicles might fail to enter a “failsafe” driving mode, lose power and stall. It said the recall applies to some Toyota Prius and Auris hybrids made from October 2008-November 2014.

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Stocks sink again as job gains send bond yields higher

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stock and bond prices fell again Friday after the Labor Department said the economy continues to add jobs at a strong pace, and investors worried about a three-day surge in yields.

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The S&P 500 index lost 16.04 points, or 0.6 percent, to 2,885.57. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dipped 180.43 points, or 0.7 percent, to 26,447.05. The Nasdaq composite skidded 91.06 points, or 1.2 percent, to 7,788.45. The Russell 2000 index lost 14.80 points, or 0.9 percent, to 1,632.11.

Benchmark U.S. crude was little changed at $74.34 a barrel in New York and Brent crude, the standard for international oil futures, fell 0.5 percent to $84.16 a barrel in London.

Wholesale gasoline slipped 0.7 percent to $2.09 a gallon. Heating oil dipped 0.3 percent to $2.39 a gallon. Natural gas fell 0.7 percent to $3.14 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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