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Business Highlights

September 21, 2017


Facebook to release Russia ads to Congress amid pressure

NEW YORK (AP) — Facebook will provide the contents of 3,000 ads bought by a Russian agency to Congress, and is also taking steps to make political advertising more transparent on its network. Investigators have sought the Russian ads for their probes into possible Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Facebook’s transparency moves are also important; currently, there’s no way for outsiders to track political ads or for recipients to tell who is sponsoring such messages.


Allstate puts hurricane losses for August at $593 million

NEW YORK (AP) — Allstate expects insurance losses of about $593 million in August after Hurricane Harvey left a path of destruction along the Gulf Coast. The initial accounting Thursday follows warnings from other insurers that are tallying the damages from a hurricane season that is nowhere near being over.


House Republicans plan retreat next week to discuss tax plan

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Republicans plan a retreat away from the Capitol next week to discuss a tax overhaul that congressional leaders have been working on for month. The retreat is set for Wednesday, but Republicans aren’t disclosing details. GOP leaders have promised to publicly release outlines of their tax plan in the coming week. The goal is to cut tax rates for individuals and corporations, and eliminate some tax breaks to pay for the cuts.


Trump piles economic action onto his NKorea military threats

NEW YORK (AP) — President Donald Trump added economic action to his fiery military threats against North Korea on Thursday, authorizing stiffer new sanctions in response to the Koreans’ nuclear weapons advances. He said China was imposing major banking sanctions, too, but there was no immediate confirmation from the North’s most important trading partner.


US stocks slide, first decline for the market this week

NEW YORK (AP) — A slide in technology companies weighed on U.S. stocks Thursday, pulling the market lower for the first time this week and erasing modest gains from a day earlier. Supermarket operators, beverage companies and other consumer staples sector stocks also declined. Industrial companies and banks led the gainers. Crude oil prices rebounded from an early slide. Trading was mostly subdued as investors sized up the latest company earnings and deal news.


SEC under fire for being hacked despite warnings on security

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Securities and Exchange Commission waited until Wednesday to disclose a hack of its corporate filing system that occurred last year. The disclosure raises questions about the agency’s ability to protect important financial information and comes as Americans are still weighing the consequences of the massive hack at Equifax. The breach occurred despite repeated warnings in recent years about weaknesses in the agency’s cybersecurity controls.


May seeks to unite divided Cabinet before big Brexit speech

LONDON (AP) — Prime Minister Theresa May is trying to unite her fractious Cabinet behind her plan to reboot faltering Brexit negotiations, as a senior European Union official suggests British hopes of moving the divorce talks on to a new phase next month might be dashed. May gathered ministers Thursday to reveal details of a speech she will deliver in Florence, Italy on Friday.


Google buys HTC’s Pixel team in $1.1B bet on devices

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Google is biting off a big piece of device manufacturer HTC for $1.1 billion to expand its efforts to build phones, speakers and other gadgets equipped with its arsenal of digital services. The deal announced Thursday underscores how serious Google is becoming about designing its own family of devices to compete against Apple and Amazon in a high-stakes battle to become the technological hub of people’s lives.


New potential burden for Houston homeowners: higher taxes

HOUSTON (AP) — As Houston recovers from Harvey’s devastating flooding, many homeowners could be asked to shoulder an added financial burden: higher taxes on the same houses they are struggling to rebuild. Mayor Sylvester Turner has proposed a one-time increase in the city’s property tax rate to help pay for mounting hurricane expenses, particularly the cost of cleaning up debris and replenishing an emergency fund.


Original Trix, made with artificial colors, is coming back

NEW YORK (AP) — Trix is back to its old tricks: The colorful cereal will once again be made with artificial dyes and ingredients, less than two years after the ingredients were banished from the cereal. General Mills, which makes the colorful cereal, says customers asked for the old formula to come back. It will continue to sell the artificial-free version, too.


Group wants Congress to revisit Medicaid changes

WASHINGTON (AP) — A group that represents state officials who administer Medicaid programs is telling Senate Republicans to slow down and rethink their latest health care bill. The board of the National Association of Medicaid Directors says its members are concerned that the Senate is rushing to make major changes in health programs for low-income people — with far-reaching consequences for state budgets that aren’t fully understood. The group wants Congress to revisit Medicaid changes.


The Standard & Poor’s 500 index lost 7.64 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,500.60. The Dow Jones industrials fell 53.36 points, or 0.2 percent, to 22,359.23. Both indexes posted record highs on Wednesday. The Nasdaq composite lost 33.35 points, or 0.5 percent, to 6,422.69. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks gave up 1.24 points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,444.18.

Benchmark U.S. crude fell 14 cents, or 0.3 percent, to settle at $50.55 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained 14 cents, or 0.2 percent, to $56.43 a barrel in London. Heating oil added 1 cent to $1.82 a gallon. Wholesale gasoline slipped 1 cent to $1.64 a gallon. Natural gas declined 15 cents, or 4.8 percent, to $2.95 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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