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Update on the latest business

August 3, 2018


Stocks mixed

NEW YORK (AP) — Stock indexes are mixed in midday trading on Wall Street, with the Dow Jones industrials and the S&P 500 rising and the Nasdaq composite lower.

Health care companies and consumer goods makers are posting some of the biggest gains. Pfizer rose 1.9 percent and Pepsi climbed 1.2 percent. Video game publisher Take-Two Interactive surged 11.9 percent after raising its forecasts.

Symantec dropped 12.2 percent on weak contract billings. The security software company also cut its profit forecast.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.96 percent.


US employers add 157,000 jobs, jobless rate hits 3.9 pct.

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. employers slowed their hiring in July, adding 157,000 jobs, a solid gain but below the healthy pace they maintained in the first half of this year.

The Labor Department says the unemployment rate ticked down to 3.9 percent from 4 percent. That’s near an 18-year low of 3.8 percent reached in May.

Employers added an average of 224,000 new workers in the first six months of this year, a faster pace than in 2017. The pickup has impressed many economists because it’s happening late in the economic expansion, which has entered its 10th year and is now the second-longest in U.S. history.

The economy grew in the April-June quarter at its fastest pace in four years. Business and consumers are optimistic, suggesting solid hiring is likely to continue.


US services firms saw growth slowdown in July

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. services companies grew at a slower pace in July as business activity and new orders slipped.

The Institute for Supply Management says that its services index fell to 55.7 last month compared to 59.1 in June. Readings greater than 50 signal an expanding economy.

The services sector, where most Americans are employed, has now grown for 102 straight months, or more than eight years.

The index was pulled down by sharp monthly decreases in business activity and news orders, both of which had been relatively high in June. The employment component of the index improved last month.


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 says the deficit in goods and services — the gap between what the US sells and what it buys in foreign markets — rose 7.3 percent to $46.3 billion in June from $43.2 billion in May. U.S. exports slid 0.7 percent to $213.8 billion; imports rose 0.6 percent to $260.2 billion.

In the first half of the year, the United States has registered a trade deficit of $291.2 billion, up 7.2 percent from January-June 2017.

President Donald Trump campaigned on a promise to bring down the gap, which he blames on bad trade deals.


China announces $60B of US goods for tariff retaliation

BEIJING (AP) — China has announced a $60 billion list of U.S. goods including coffee, honey and industrial chemicals for retaliation if Washington goes ahead with its latest tariff threat.

The Finance Ministry accused the Trump administration of damaging the global economy after it proposed hiking duties on $200 billion of Chinese goods in the second round of a dispute over technology. A ministry statement says retaliatory duties of 25 percent, 20 percent, 10 percent or 5 percent on 5,207 products will be imposed “if the U.S. side persists in putting its tariff measures into effect.”

Washington imposed 25 percent duties on $34 billion of Chinese goods on July 6 in response to complaints Beijing steals or pressures companies to hand over technology. Beijing responded by imposing similar charges on the same amount of U.S. products.

Friday’s threat targeting a smaller amount of U.S. goods reflects the fact that Beijing is running out products for retaliation due to its lopsided trade balance with the United States.

The highest penalties on Friday’s list would hit honey, vegetables, mushrooms and other farm goods, targeting areas that supported Trump in the 2016 election.


Florida lobster fishermen fear trade war amid Irma recovery

KEY LARGO, Fla. (AP) — Lobster fisherman in the Florida Keys fear a trade war with China could undermine storm recovery in the island chain.

Lobsters are among the seafood and other U.S. goods hit by Chinese tariffs in early July, after the Trump administration put tariffs on billions of dollars’ worth of Chinese goods.

Florida’s nearly eight-month commercial spiny lobster fishing season opens Monday. Keys fishermen had hoped the harvest would help them recoup losses from last September’s hurricane.

But the industry has come to depend on Chinese exports. Fishermen worry tariffs could raise prices by 25 percent, sending the Chinese market looking for lobster in another country’s waters.

Ernie Piton of the Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen’s Association says about 90 percent of spiny lobsters caught by the Keys fleet go to China.


Amazon pays just $2.2M in tax in UK despite surge in profits

LONDON (AP) — Amazon is facing criticism after its British tax bill fell despite a big jump in sales and profits.

Records show Amazon U.K. Services Ltd. faced a 2017 tax bill of 4.6 million pounds, or $6 million, but paid 1.7 million pounds, or $2.2 million, deferring the rest.

Its pre-tax profits for the period were almost triple the previous year’s 24.3 million pounds. Revenue was 1.99 billion pounds, up from 1.46 billion pounds.

The tax-payment decrease was partly due to shares payments to staff, which were counted as a cost and deducted from profits.

Amazon said Friday that it pays “all taxes required in the U.K. and every country where we operate.”

Brick-and-mortar British retailers say they struggle to compete with online giants that use loopholes to lower their bill.


Online furniture seller Wayfair to open a store

NEW YORK (AP) — Furniture seller Wayfair is following the path of other online retailers by opening an actual store.

The company says it its first brick-and-mortar location will open by early next year in Florence, Kentucky, about 12 miles from Cincinnati. A spokeswoman for the Boston company says the 20,000-square-foot outlet store will sell items that have been returned but are in good condition, as well as other discounted goods.

News of the Wayfair store was first reported by industry magazine Furniture Today.

Online retailers have been establishing a physical footprint. Amazon.com, for example, bought grocer Whole Foods last year, has opened more than a dozen bookstores. It also plans to open more cashier-less Amazon Go convenience stores.

Wayfair Inc. declined to say if it plans to open more stores.


NASA assigns astronauts to SpaceX, Boeing test flights

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — NASA has assigned the astronauts who will ride the first commercial capsules into orbit next year and bring human launches back to the U.S.

SpaceX and Boeing are shooting for a test flight of their capsules to the International Space Station by the end of this year or early next, with the first crews flying from Cape Canaveral, Florida, by next spring or summer.

The five astronauts assigned to the first flights gathered Friday at Johnson Space Center in Houston for the announcement.

Boeing’s first Starliner crew will include a former NASA astronaut who commanded the last shuttle flight in 2011, Chris Ferguson, who is now a Boeing employee. The four other commercial crew members are still with NASA.

U.S. astronauts now ride on Russian capsules to the space station.


1st year of Nevada marijuana sales exceeds expectations

RENO, Nev. (AP) — Nevada regulators and industry insiders say the state’s first year of broad marijuana legalization has exceeded even their highest expectations.

Sales and tax collections already have surpassed fiscal year-end projections by 25 percent with a month of numbers still outstanding.

Taxable sales should top $500 million when June’s figures are counted, with total tax revenue of about $70 million — and about $25 million of that devoted to schools.

State Taxation Department Director William Anderson says Nevada’s program is viewed by other legal pot states as “the gold standard.”

The biggest criticism has come from medical marijuana patients who say broad legalization has resulted in dispensaries stocking fewer higher-potency products that cannot be sold for recreational use.


Missouri brewery removes Hindu deity from beer artwork

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri brewery has apologized and removed artwork depicting a Hindu deity from one of its beers.

Rajan Zed, president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, had objected when the Springfield Brewing Company introduced an IPA beer label showing Hindu deity Lord Genesha holding a drink.

In a statement released Friday, the brewery said it never intended to offend anyone and would remove the artwork from the Bombay Brown beer and its website.

Zed said using the deity’s symbol to promote a commercial business or any other agenda was offensive and insensitive. He thanked the brewery’s management on Friday for its response to his complaints.

Hindus worship Lord Ganesha as a god of wisdom and remover of obstacles. Ganesha is generally invoked before the beginning of any major undertaking.

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