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Update on the latest in business:

October 5, 2017

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Stocks rise; S&P 500 on pace for longest streak in years

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks climbed yet again today, and the gain for the Standard & Poor’s 500 put the index on track for its longest winning streak in four years.

Trading was again mostly quiet around the world, and markets were closed at several of Asia’s big exchanges due to holidays.

The S&P 500 rose 12 points to 2,549, as of 1:05 p.m. Eastern time. If the gain holds, it will be the eighth straight day where the index has climbed, which would be its longest such streak since 2013.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 91, or 0.4 percent, to 22,753, and the Nasdaq composite added 37 to 6,571. All three indexes closed at records on Wednesday.

SENATE-FEDERAL RESERVE

Senate confirms Trump pick to serve on Federal Reserve

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate has confirmed President Donald Trump’s nomination of Randal Quarles to serve on the Federal Reserve. It’s the first step in Trump’s efforts to remake the nation’s powerful central bank.

Quarles is the head of a Salt Lake City-based investment firm. He was approved on a 65-32 vote for a vacant Fed board term.

Then the Senate — by voice vote — approved him to be vice chairman.

There are currently three vacancies on the Fed’s seven member-board. Quarles is the only nomination Trump has made to the central bank.

When Trump was running for president, he strongly criticized the Fed for following interest-rate policies that he said favored Democrats, and for imposing burdensome rules on banks that he said had hurt the economic recovery.

TRADE GAP

US trade deficit narrows to $42.4 billion in August

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. trade deficit narrowed to $42.4 billion in August, the lowest in 11 months.

The Commerce Department says that the trade gap — the difference between exports and imports — fell in August, from $43.6 billion in July.

Exports were $195.3 billion, up from $194.5 billion in July and most since December 2014 on higher shipments of cars, telecommunications equipment and pharmaceuticals. Imports slid to $237.7 billion from July’s $238.1 billion.

The monthly deficit in goods rose 26 percent with Mexico to $6.2 billion, and 4 percent with China to $34.9 billion.

U.S. exporters are benefiting from an improving global economy and a weaker dollar, which makes American exports less expensive.

But the trade gap is up 9 percent so far this year from January to August 2016.

FACTORY ORDERS

US factory orders increase 1.2 percent in August

WASHINGTON (AP) — Orders at U.S. factories increased by 1.2 percent in August, driven by strong gains in aluminum and other metals, industrial machinery and autos.

The report on last month’s gain in manufacturing from the Commerce Department follows a steep drop of 3.3 percent in July. Recent hurricanes didn’t impact the data.

The report suggests U.S. manufacturing is benefiting from a stronger dollar and an improving global economy.

A category that serves as a proxy for business investment climbed a solid 1.1 percent after a 1.3 percent increase in July. The gains in business investment show companies are optimistic about future demand from customers.

Manufacturing’s health looks likely to continue after a survey released earlier this week found that factory activity expanded in September at the fastest pace in 13 years.

UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS

Jobless claims drop 12,000 to 260,000 last week

WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell by 12,000 last week to 260,000, as claims returned to more normal levels following the disruptions caused by Hurricane Irma in Florida and Georgia.

The Labor Department says that the less-volatile four-week average declined by 9,500 to 268,250. Overall, the number of Americans collecting unemployment checks has fallen 6.2 percent over the past year to 1.94 million.

In the aftermath of Irma, claims had risen sharply in Florida and Georgia two weeks ago but fell last week by 26.8 percent in Georgia and 20.4 percent in Florida. Claims were also down in Texas, dropping by 15.1 percent from the previous week as benefit applications returned to more normal levels in that state following Hurricane Harvey.

MORTGAGE RATES

US 30-year mortgage rates average rises to 3.85 percent

WASHINGTON (AP) — Long-term mortgage rates ticked up slightly this week as the average

30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose to 3.85 percent from 3.83 percent a week ago.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the 15-year home loan, often used by homeowners who refinanced their mortgages, also rose slightly to 3.15 percent from 3.13.

While near historically low, mortgage rates are higher than they are a year ago. The increase reflects in part the expectation that President Donald Trump and the Republican majority Congress will approve tax cuts that are meant to stimulate growth and could possibly increase the deficit.

Rates on long-term home loans typically track the yield on 10-year Treasury notes.

Freddie Mac says the rate on adjustable five-year mortgages blipped up to 3.20 percent from 3.17 percent.

NETFLIX-PRICE INCREASE

Netflix raising US prices by 10 pct for most popular plan

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Netflix is raising the price for its most popular U.S. video streaming plan by 10 percent— a move aimed at bringing in more money to outbid HBO, Amazon and other rivals for addictive shows such as “Stranger Things.”

The change affects most of Netflix’s 53 million U.S. subscribers.

Netflix will now charge $11 per month instead of $10 for a plan that includes HD and allows people to simultaneously watch programs on two different internet-connected devices.

The price for another plan that includes ultra-high definition, or 4K, video, is going up by 17 percent, to $14 from $12 a month. A plan that limits subscribers to one screen at a time without high-definition will remain at $8 a month.

PAYDAY LENDING RULES

Federal regulator clamps down on payday lending industry

NEW YORK (AP) — A federal regulator is announcing new restrictions on the payday lending industry, a move that is likely to face resistance in Congress.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s finalized rules unveiled todsy largely reflect what the agency proposed last year. The rules are the first nationwide regulation of the industry, which had largely been left to the states.

Under the new rules, lenders will have to do a full-payment test before giving the loan, meaning the lender must determine whether the borrower can afford to repay the loan in full with interest within 30 days. Since payday lending customers are often in dire situations, this test will likely significantly curtail the industry.

The CFPB is announcing other restrictions as well, like the number times a loan can be renewed.

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