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Business Highlights

August 3, 2018


US businesses cast wider net as jobless rate hits 3.9 pct.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The unemployment rate ticked down to 3.9 percent from 4 percent. It’s near a five-decade low, and companies are looking harder for workers. In some cases they’re finding them right at their own workplaces. Businesses are adding more hours for part-timers and converting contractors to full-time workers. Americans with fewer skills are also benefiting from hiring managers’ desperation: The unemployment rate for those without a high-school degree fell to a record low in July.


China announces $60B of US goods for tariff retaliation

BEIJING (AP) — China says it’s poised to impose retaliatory tariffs on $60 billion worth of U.S. imports if Washington goes ahead with its latest trade threat. The items that would be targeted include coffee, honey and industrial chemicals. China is responding to a U.S. threat to increasing tariff on $200 billion of Chinese goods in the second round of a dispute over technology.


Earnings roundup: 2Q profit growth even better than expected

NEW YORK (AP) — Investors came into this earnings season with high expectations. They weren’t high enough. Companies in the S&P 500 are on track to deliver earnings-per-share growth of 24 percent for the second quarter. When the quarter started in April, Wall Street was expecting a 19 percent jump, according to FactSet. One concern for investors: Could this be as good as it gets?


US trade deficit widens by $46.3 billion in June

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. trade deficit widened in June for the first time in four months as exports fell and imports grew. Politically sensitive trade gaps with China, Mexico and Canada all increased. The Commerce Department said Friday that the deficit in goods and services — the gap between what the US sells and what it buys from other countries — rose 7.3 percent to $46.3 billion in June from $43.2 billion in May.


Weinstein seeks to get case tossed, citing accuser’s emails

NEW YORK (AP) — Harvey Weinstein’s lawyers want a New York court to throw out sexual assault charges against him. Lawyers for the former movie titan-turned-#MeToo villain filed notice Friday they’ll seek dismissal of the case. Among other arguments, they say the grand jury that indicted Weinstein should have been told about friendly emails from a woman who accused him of raping her in 2013. Prosecutors are declining to comment. Weinstein has pleaded not guilty to sex charges involving three women in all.


SEC drops investigation into Exxon climate change response

NEW YORK (AP) — The government has dropped a two-year investigation into how Exxon Mobil Corp. factors climate-change regulations into its calculations of the value of its assets. The Securities and Exchange Commission informed the energy giant in a letter that it would not recommend an enforcement action against the company at this time. Exxon faces separate investigations in New York and Massachusetts into whether it misled investors about climate change issues.


Feds probing firm tied to risky online commerce

NEW YORK (AP) — Federal authorities are probing the business practices of a payment processor whose CEO is a prominent political donor. A person with direct knowledge of the case tells The Associated Press that criminal investigators from the Federal Drug Administration are examining records related to Allied Wallet. In a statement, Allied Wallet CEO Ahmad “Andy” Khawaja denied his company was under investigation or had processed transactions for online pharmacies.


Will economic boom complicate curbing immigration?

WASHINGTON (AP) — One of President Donald Trump’s priorities, low unemployment, is complicating another: curbing immigration. The number of job openings is exceeding the number of Americans seeking jobs, leaving some employers looking beyond the border to fill openings. Tens of thousands of people cross the border illegally each month and some economists say part of the reason for the stream is the lure of a lucrative job. They say that when the economy is booming, people want to come to work.


US stocks rise as companies that pay big dividends surge

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks rose Friday after the Labor Department said hiring remained solid in July and strong quarterly earnings continued to boost the market.

U.S. employers added 157,000 jobs last month, fewer than analysts expected. But the Labor Department said more jobs were added in May and June than it previously reported. That made up for the shortfall in July.


The S&P 500 index rose 13.13 points, or 0.5 percent, to 2,840.35. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 136.42 points, or 0.5 percent, to 25,462.58. The Nasdaq composite rose 9.33 points, or 0.1 percent, to 7,812.01. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks lost 8.73 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,673.37.

Benchmark U.S. crude lost 0.7 percent to $68.49 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, dipped 0.3 percent to $73.21 per barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline slipped 0.1 percent to $2.07 a gallon. Heating oil fell 0.2 percent to $2.13 a gallon. Natural gas rose 1.3 percent to $2.85 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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