FINANCIAL MARKETS

Banks lead US stocks slightly higher

NEW YORK (AP) — Banks led U.S. stock indexes slightly higher in midday trading, recouping some of their losses from a day earlier. Utilities and consumer goods companies were among the biggest decliners.

Investors have their eye on Washington, where former FBI Director James Comey has been testifying as part of a congressional investigation into Russia's possible election meddling.

Troubled department store operator Nordstrom soared 11 percent after the company said members of the Nordstrom family are considering taking the company private.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 3 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,436 as of 12:38 a.m. Eastern Time. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 66 points, or 0.3 percent, to 21,239. The Nasdaq composite index added 13 points, or 0.2 percent, to 6,310.

NORDSTROM-BUYOUT

Nordstrom family considering buyout of department store

NEW YORK (AP) — Members of the Nordstrom family including co-presidents Blake, Peter and Erik Nordstrom are considering making an offer to buy out the 70 percent of the department store's stock they don't already own.

Nordstrom Inc. says Thursday that the group also includes President of Stores James Nordstrom and Chairman Emeritus Bruce Nordstrom.

Nordstrom shares, which have fallen by about a third since December, rebounded over 12 percent on the news.

Nordstrom's board has formed a committee of independent directors to represent the company in any talks with the family over a potential sale.

Nordstrom traces its roots back to a Seattle shoe store opened by Swedish immigrant John Nordstrom and a partner in 1901.

NET WORTH

US household wealth ticks up 1.4 percent to $94.8 trillion

WASHINGTON (AP) — Buoyed by higher stock prices, Americans' household net worth rose 1.4 percent to $94.8 trillion in the first three months of this year, a trend that could support future spending.

The Federal Reserve says that U.S. stock and mutual fund portfolios jumped $1.3 trillion in value in the January-March quarter. Home values rose $499 billion.

Total household wealth includes checking and savings accounts, and subtracts mortgages and other debt. Unlike some other economic measures, household wealth has fully recovered from the Great Recession and gone far beyond pre-recession levels.

U.S. household net worth stood at $66.5 trillion at the end of 2007, when the downturn began. It fell to $56 trillion in 2008 before slowly recovering. The figures aren't adjusted for inflation.

UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS

Claims for US jobless benefits fall by 10,000 to 245,000

WASHINGTON (AP) — Fewer Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week as most U.S. workers continue to enjoy job security.

The Labor Department says claims for jobless aid fell by 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 245,000 last week. The less-volatile, four-week average rose by 2,250 to 242,000.

Unemployment claims are a proxy for layoffs. They have come in below 300,000, a historically low number, for 118 straight weeks. That is the longest such streak since 1970.

The low levels reflect a healthy job market. The U.S. unemployment rate fell last month to a 16-year low 4.3 percent.

Overall, nearly 1.92 million people were collecting unemployment checks, down nearly 10 percent from a year ago. The four-week average number of Americans receiving jobless aid was 1.91 million, lowest since January 1974.

CONGRESS-DODD FRANK

House GOP on track to undoing post-2008 financial rules

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Republicans are preparing to dismantle financial rules established under President Barack Obama that were designed to head off economic meltdowns like the one that caused millions of Americans to lose their jobs and homes during the Great Recession.

Republicans are arguing that the many requirements imposed under what is known as the Dodd-Frank Act have actually harmed economic growth by making it harder for consumers and businesses to get credit.

They say the biggest banks are only getting bigger while local banks are struggling.

Democratic lawmakers overwhelmingly oppose the bill, which also faces major obstacles in the Senate. They argue that Dodd-Frank has brought financial security to millions of Americans and that undoing it will encourage the kind of risky lending practices that invites future economic shocks.

HYUNDAI RECALLS

Hyundai recalls vehicles to fix hood latches, warning lights

DETROIT (AP) — Hyundai is recalling almost 600,000 vehicles in the U.S. to fix hood latch and parking brake warning light problems.

The largest recall covers more than 437,000 Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport SUVs from 2013 to 2017. A cable for the secondary hood latch can corrode and fail to latch. That could let the hood fly up if the primary latch isn't secured.

Dealers will replace the cable starting June 30.

The second recall posted Thursday by the government covers 161,000 Genesis and Sonata models from 2015 and 2016.

The light that shows the parking brake is on may not light due to corrosion in a switch. That could let the cars be driven with the brake on.

Dealers will replace the switch. The recall will start June 30.

NISSAN-AUTOMATIC BRAKING

Automatic braking to be standard on top-selling Nissans

DETROIT (AP) — Nissan says it will make automatic emergency braking standard on seven of 18 U.S. models for the 2018 model year, putting the safety feature on most of its top sellers.

The company also pledged to make the system standard on 90 percent of its models in two years, and to have it on all models before 2022.

It's the second automaker to commit to making automatic braking standard on its whole model lineup. Toyota says it will be on all but a few models by the end of 2017.

The systems use sensors to spot objects in front of a car and either stop or slow it to prevent or lessen the impact of a collision.

Nissan says models getting the standard feature comprise about 70 percent of its sales.

CHINA-IVANKA TRUMP-DETAINED INVESTIGATORS-BRAND

Ivanka Trump's brand distances itself from China shoemaker

SHANGHAI (AP) — Ivanka Trump's fashion brand is seeking to distance itself from a Chinese manufacturer that has come under scrutiny after activists investigating labor conditions there were detained.

The brand's president, Abigail Klem, said in a statement released Wednesday that the Huajian Group factory where labor abuses are alleged has not produced Ivanka Trump shoes since March. She says the brand's licensing partner Mark Fisher works with many factories, and all are required to operate under strict rules.

The executive director of the New York-based nonprofit China Labor Watch says it began scrutinizing Ivanka Trump supply chains more than a year ago. He says three investigators went into Huajian factories posing as workers this spring and found Ivanka Trump merchandise inside. Now all three men are in jail.

CHINA-NEW ROBOTS

Companion robots featured at Shanghai electronics show

SHANGHAI (AP) — More than 50 companies are showcasing a new generation of robots at this week's Shanghai CES electronics show, most of which serve as companions at home, or butlers in shopping malls.

Chinese companies including Shenzhen-based startup Aelos Robotic Inc. are displaying robots with heightened dexterity and the ability to pass through mazes using sensors.

Beijing's Canny Unisrobo Technology Co. Ltd. is a pioneer in the field, with its Canbot produced in cooperation with Microsoft having entered mass production almost a decade ago

Sales manager Zhang Jianting said Thursday that annual sales are about 150,000 units, with the home companion robots selling for from $130 to $483 depending on size.

Zhang said the market is growing ever more crowded, with many more players entering this year.