WALL STREET

Stocks gain in post-holiday trading

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are trading higher on Wall Street as traders return from the Independence Day holiday.

Technology and health care companies have contributed the most to the market's gains today. Chipmaker Intel climbed 2.4 percent and Johnson & Johnson rose 1.3 percent.

The gains were broad. The only two sectors in the benchmark S&P 500 index to decline were safe-play stocks, utilities and telecommunications companies.

TiVo slumped 4 percent after announcing the sudden departure of its CEO.

ADP-EMPLOYMENT

Survey: US employers added 177,000 jobs in June

WASHINGTON (AP) — A private survey shows that American businesses added 177,000 workers in June, a sign of health and resilience for the U.S. labor market and economy.

Payroll processor ADP said Thursday that hiring was led by employers with more than 50 workers, with the education and health and the leisure and hospitality sectors reporting strong gains.

The figures come one day before the government releases its monthly employment report. Economists have forecast that Friday's official report will show solid job growth of 195,000.

ADP compiles hiring data from millions of companies that are clients of its payroll services. Its figures frequently diverge from the government's report. Last month, the government said private employers added 218,000 jobs, which was higher than ADP's revised figure of 189,000.

SMALL BIZ HIRING

Survey: Small business hiring slowed in May

WASHINGTON (AP) — Small businesses hired workers at a slower pace in June, the second straight month of weakening job gains despite an overall healthy economy.

Payroll company ADP said Thursday it counted 29,000 new jobs at its customers with 49 or fewer employees. This marks a decline from small business job gains of 46,000 in May and 50,000 in April. So far this year, small businesses have been creating on average 46,000 jobs a month.

ADP reported that overall private employers added 177,00 jobs last month, a slight drop-off from the average this year of 202,667 a month as companies say they're having a tougher time finding skilled workers.

The ADP report comes a day ahead of the official monthly employment report being released Friday by the Labor Department.

US-GERMANY-TRADE

Merkel would be willing to cut back tariffs

BERLIN (AP) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel would be willing to back cuts on tariffs on U.S. cars imported to the European Union as part of a reciprocal agreement to resolve a trade spat with Washington.

Merkel told reporters in Berlin on Thursday that such a deal would need to be offered to other countries that export cars to the EU, too, if it is to conform with World Trade Organization rules.

U.S. President Donald Trump's administration is considering raising tariffs on imported cars, trucks and auto parts, a move that would hurt Germany's powerful auto industry.

German business daily Handelsblatt reported the country's car manufacturers met Wednesday with U.S. ambassador Richard Grenell to discuss a zero-tariffs option.

Merkel said a common EU position is still being worked on.

IRAN-US-OIL

Iran tells Trump to stop tweeting about oil prices

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's representative to OPEC says U.S. President Donald Trump should stop tweeting about wanting lower oil prices, saying that doing so has the opposite effect.

Hossein Kazempour Ardebili was quoted by the oil ministry's website Thursday as telling Trump to "please stop," adding that "with your frequent and indecent tweets oil prices have gone up 10 dollars."

Trump has repeatedly called on the oil cartel to reduce prices. On Wednesday he tweeted that OPEC is "doing little to help," adding that, "if anything, they are driving prices higher."

Tehran blames rising prices on U.S. sanctions imposed on Iran and Venezuela, founding members of the cartel. Last month, members of OPEC agreed to pump an additional 1 million barrels of crude daily, a move that should help contain prices.

BOEING-EMBRAER

Boeing and Embraer attempt a joint venture

NEW YORK (AP) — Boeing and the Brazilian jet maker Embraer will attempt to form a joint venture that would push the U.S. aerospace giant more aggressively into the regional aircraft market.

The new company, which has faced heavy scrutiny from lawmakers in Brazil, is being valued at about $4.7 billion.

The companies said Thursday that Boeing Co. will own 80 percent of the joint venture, and Embraer SA the remaining 20 percent.

Brazilian lawmakers have been hesitant to allow any deal, fearing the loss of control of a major industrial and defense asset.

Any partnership between Boeing, based in Chicago, and Embraer would counter strengthening ties between Europe's Airbus and Canada's Bombardier, which have threatened Boeing.

MORTGAGE RATES

Average US 30-year mortgage rates fall to 4.52 percent

WASHINGTON (AP) — Long-term U.S. mortgage rates fell this week, offering a slight degree of relief to would-be homebuyers.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the average rate on 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages dropped to 4.52 percent from 4.55 percent a week ago. Rates have declined in five of the past six weeks. Still, the average rate has increased from a year ago when it stood at 3.96 percent.

The average rate on 15-year, fixed-rate loans slipped to 3.99 percent from 4.04 percent a year ago.

Mortgage rates have declined as investors have bought 10-year U.S. Treasury notes, causing their yield to decline. The yield peaked in May at 3.11 percent and has since dipped to 2.83 percent as the financial markets have sought a haven amid risks of a trade war.

STARBUCKS-CUSTOMER COMPLAINT

Starbucks employee fired after mocking stuttering customer

NEW YORK (AP) — Starbucks says an employee in Philadelphia has been fired after reportedly mocking a customer with a stutter.

The coffee chain says the behavior did not reflect the experience customers should have and the employee is no longer with Starbucks.

A customer posted Sunday on Facebook that his friend stuttered when giving his name. He said the barista then made light of it verbally and then spelled the name with extra letters. The friend emailed Starbucks and was offered $5 as an apology, according to the post. Starbucks also said that was not the ideal response.

In May, Starbucks held anti-racial bias training for thousands of U.S. employees after a worker at another Philadelphia store called police on two black men waiting for a friend. The incident was a major embarrassment.