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Business Highlights

September 21, 2018

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Rising oil prices haven’t hurt the US economy so far

DALLAS (AP) — An old bogeyman, higher oil prices, may still be scary but doesn’t have the same power to hurt the US economy. Yes, when gasoline costs more, consumers have less money to spend at restaurants and shops. But that’s partly offset by more drilling, hiring and spending in the energy sector. Spending related to oil and natural gas accounts for about 40 percent of all growth in business investment.

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Groups say Medicare discounts threatened in opioids bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — Consumer and health care groups say they’re trying to block a move by the pharmaceutical industry to commandeer must-pass opioid epidemic legislation as a vehicle for rolling back drugmaker discounts to Medicare beneficiaries with high prescription costs. Republicans say nothing has been decided in behind-the-scenes discussions, but a spokesman for House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi calls it a “a multi-billion dollar handout to Big Pharma.”

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New California law helps utilities with wildfire lawsuits

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a measure allowing utilities to bill their customers to pay for legal settlements stemming from devastating 2017 wildfires. Brown announced Friday he’d signed the bill, aimed at preventing bankruptcy for Pacific Gas & Electric Co., which faces billions of dollars in liability if investigators determine its equipment caused the fire in Santa Rosa. For future fires, a commission can consider a variety of factors to decide if utilities can pass costs to consumers.

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China ‘outraged’ by US sanctions over Russian weapons buy

BEIJING (AP) — China is expressing outrage over U.S. sanctions against a Chinese military agency and its director over the purchase of Russian weapons. Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang says Beijing has lodged stern complaints with Washington over the move and is demanding that the sanctions be revoked. He says the U.S. will have to “take all the consequences” if it ignores China’s demands.

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UK leader May hits back on Brexit plan; pound falls

LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Theresa May has accused the European Union of creating an “impasse” in divorce negotiations by bluntly rejecting her blueprint for Brexit, sending the value of the pound falling as worries about a chaotic U.K. exit from the EU soared. British newspapers declared May had been “humiliated” by EU leaders, and she used a televised statement to insist she was prepared to take Britain out of the bloc without a deal if it did not treat the country with more respect.

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Ford Motor told to pay Thai customers for transmission woes

BANGKOK (AP) — A Thai court has ordered Ford Motor Co. to pay 291 customers a total of about $720,000 in compensation for selling cars equipped with faulty transmissions. The Bangkok South Civil Court’s decision was welcomed Friday as a victory in a country where consumers rarely win redress. Most of the plaintiffs in the class action suit will get payments of $800 to $8,000 each depending on the time involved in repairing their vehicles.

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Carolinas farms could take billions in losses from Florence

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Hurricane Florence is testing the resolve of farmers in the Carolinas, who could face billions of dollars in agricultural damage while still feeling the sting from Hurricane Matthew in 2016. Early farm reports confirm pre-storm worries about losses to tobacco, cotton and corn crops. Peanuts and sweet potatoes also are of concern. Tobacco could be the North Carolina field crop taking the biggest hit.

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Credit freeze free nationwide as of Friday

Consumers can now freeze their credit for free under a new federal law. A credit freeze restricts access to your credit file, essentially halting anyone from opening any new credit in your name.

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Dow hits another all-time high on mixed day for US stocks

NEW YORK (AP) — Wall Street capped a milestone-setting week Friday with a mixed finish for the major U.S. stock indexes and the second all-time high in two days for the Dow Jones Industrial Average. An afternoon sell-off erased modest gains for the S&P 500 that had the benchmark index on track to eke out its own record high for much of the day. Losses for technology companies and retailers, two of the market’s hottest sectors this year, offset gains in energy and industrial stocks.

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The S&P 500 index dropped 1.08 points, or 0.04 percent, to 2,929.67. The Dow gained 86.52 points, or 0.3 percent, to 26,743.50. The Nasdaq composite lost 41.28 points, or 0.5 percent, to 7,986.96. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies gave up 7.87 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,712.32.

Benchmark U.S. crude gained 0.7 percent to settle at $70.78 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, added 0.1 percent to close at $78.80 a barrel in London. Heating oil gave up 0.1 percent to $2.23 a gallon, wholesale gasoline added 0.1 percent to $2.02 a gallon and natural gas was little changed at $2.98 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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