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Business Highlights

August 1, 2018


Social media plays whack-a-mole with Russia interference

NEW YORK (AP) — Facebook is spending heavily to avoid a repeat of the Russian interference that played out on its service in 2016.But it doesn’t appear to have the upper hand yet — and may never. Its adversaries are wily, more adept at camouflaging themselves and apparently aren’t always detectable by Facebook’s much-vaunted artificial intelligence systems.


Tesla burns $739.5 million in cash on way to record 2Q loss

Electric car maker Tesla Inc. burned through $739.5 million in cash last quarter, paving the way to a company record $717.5 million net loss as it cranked out more electric cars. But the company reiterated a promise from CEO Elon Musk to post net profits in the third and fourth quarters, and Telsa’s shares rose 5.3 percent to $316.85 in after-hours trading.


US proposes higher tax on $200 billion in Chinese imports

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration is proposing raising planned taxes on $200 billion in Chinese imports to 25 percent from 10 percent, turning up the pressure on Beijing in a trade war between the world’s two biggest economies. The United States has already imposed 25 percent tariffs on $34 billion in Chinese imports and is readying 25 percent tariffs on another $16 billion worth to punish China for allegedly using predatory tactics to obtain U.S. technology.


Fed keeps key rate unchanged while signaling future hikes

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve is leaving its benchmark interest rate unchanged while signaling further gradual rate hikes in the months ahead as long as the economy stays healthy. The Fed’s decision left the central bank’s key short-term rate at 1.75 percent to 2 percent — the level hit in June when the Fed boosted the rate for a second time this year.


Inflation, gas prices, tariffs squeeze consumers

NEW YORK (AP) — Consumers face higher prices as companies pass along higher costs for fuel and raw materials and start feeling the effects of trade disputes. Companies warn that items ranging from canned beverages to airline tickets will likely get more expensive as they face higher costs. Some shoppers say they’ve already noticed a rise in prices.


Trump’s short-term health plans are cheaper but cover less

WASHINGTON (AP) — Consumers will have more options to buy cheaper, short-term health insurance under a new Trump administration rule, but there’s no guarantee the plans will cover pre-existing conditions or provide benefits like coverage of prescription drugs. Administration officials say the plans will last up to 12 months and may be renewable for up to 36 months. Democrats call the plans “junk insurance.”


Wells Fargo to pay $2.1 billion for role in housing bubble

NEW YORK (AP) — Wells Fargo agreed to pay a $2.1 billion fine to settle allegations it misrepresented the types of mortgages it sold to investors during the housing bubble. The amount is relatively smaller than fines paid by Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and other big banks in the years following the financial crisis to settle similar allegations.


GE employee charged with stealing company’s trade secrets

NISKAYUNA, N.Y. (AP) — Federal prosecutors say an engineer at General Electric’s upstate New York turbine manufacturing plant has been charged with stealing the company’s trade secrets. The U.S. Attorney’s Office says Wednesday 55-year-old Xiaoqing Zheng removed electronic files with company trade secrets involving its turbine technologies and hid data files in a digital photograph of a sunset. FBI agents arrested Zheng earlier Wednesday at his home near GE’s Schenectady turbine plant.


Fidelity slashes fees as funds battle for investors

NEW YORK (AP) — The price war among mutual fund companies is hitting a new frontier, to the benefit of investors. Fidelity will soon offer a pair of mutual funds that charge zero in expenses. The new index funds are part of a suite of changes Fidelity is making to lower expenses and make investing easier, even for people with smaller amounts to invest. It’s the latest move in an industrywide battle to attract customers, who have become increasingly conscious of how much high fees can limit returns.


Apple soars but energy, industrial stocks weigh on market

NEW YORK (AP) — Apple leaps to its largest gain in 18 months after it announced strong sales and rising iPhone prices. The tech giant finished the day with a market value of $990 billion. Other companies struggled, with industrial and energy companies faring the worst. Bond yields rose, but the Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged.


The S&P 500 index slid 2.93 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,813.36. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 81.37 points, or 0.3 percent, to 25,333.82. The Nasdaq composite added 35.50 points, or 0.5 percent, to 7,707.29, but the Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks lost 1.54 points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,669.26.

Benchmark U.S. crude dropped 2 percent to $67.66 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 2.5 percent to $72.39 per barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline sank 1.7 percent to $2.05 a gallon. Heating oil gave up 1.9 percent to $2.10 a gallon. Natural gas dipped 0.9 percent to $2.76 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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