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Business Highlights

July 31, 2018

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Facebook finds ‘sophisticated’ efforts to disrupt elections

NEW YORK (AP) — Facebook says it has uncovered “sophisticated” efforts to influence US politics on its platforms. The company says it removed 32 accounts from Facebook and Instagram because they were involved in “coordinated” behavior and appeared to be fake. The company says it doesn’t know who is behind the efforts, but there are signs it may be connected to Russia.

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LA prosecutors decline sex abuse charges against Les Moonves

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Prosecutors in Southern California have declined to pursue sexual abuse claims against CBS head Les Moonves because the statute of limitations has expired. The unidentified woman, who worked in the television industry, went to Los Angeles police in February to report three alleged incidents in the mid-to-late 1980s. In an article last week in The New Yorker, six women alleged sexual harassment or misconduct by Moonves.

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US says driving would be riskier if fuel standards tougher

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration says people would drive more and be exposed to increased risk if their cars get better gas mileage, an argument intended to justify freezing Obama-era toughening of fuel standards. Transportation experts dispute the arguments, contained in a draft of the administration’s proposals prepared this summer, excerpts of which were obtained by The Associated Press.

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Apple shares rise on 3Q jump in average price of iPhones

CUPERTINO, Calif. — Apple says it made more money from higher priced iPhones in the latest quarter, even as unit sales were relatively unchanged. Shares of Apple rose nearly 3 percent Tuesday after it reported third-quarter results that beat expectations. Unit volume rose just 1 percent from a year ago to 41.3 million, but the average selling price grew 20 percent to $724 per iPhone, up from $606 a year ago. That suggests that more consumers were buying its premium iPhone X.

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Trump administration considering tax break on capital gains

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration is studying the idea of implementing a big tax break for wealthy Americans by reducing the taxes levied on capital gains, but no decision has been made yet on whether to proceed. The change would involve taxing capital gains — profits on investments such as stocks or real estate — after taking into account inflation, which would lower the tax bite. Administration officials said Tuesday that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin prefers deferring to Congress.

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Auditors: 30M taxpayers will owe more due to low withholding

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congressional auditors say about 30 million people — 21 percent of U.S. taxpayers — will have to come up with more money to pay their taxes next year because their employers withheld too little from their paychecks. New tax withholding tables for employers were put together by the government early this year. About 30 million workers received pay that was “under-withheld” — making their paychecks bigger this year but bringing a larger bill at tax time next spring.

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US consumer confidence edges up in July

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans were a bit more confident about the economy in July, but their expectations for the near future dimmed slightly. The Conference Board, a business research group, says its consumer confidence index rose to 127.4 this month from 127.1 in June. The index measures both consumers’ assessment of current economic conditions and expectations for the future.

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Pfizer 2Q profit surges, company sees drug rebates ending

NEW YORK (AP) — Pfizer executives are predicting the Trump administration will try to eliminate big rebates off prescription drug prices that manufacturers pay to middlemen, a move that could sharply reduce patients’ out-of-pocket costs. Pfizer shares jumped 3 percent on the comments. They were made to analysts during a conference call Tuesday to discuss Pfizer’s second-quarter results.

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Health care and industrial stocks lead US indexes higher

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. indexes break out of a three-day losing streak as industrial stocks jump and a batch of strong earnings helps companies in health care and real estate. Stocks also got a boost from a Bloomberg News report that the U.S. and China are looking to restart trade talks. Technology companies finish slightly higher after three days of big losses.

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The S&P 500 index rose 13.69 points, or 0.5 percent, to 2,816.29, making up most of the losses it took on Monday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 108.36 points, or 0.4 percent, to 25,415.19. The Nasdaq composite added 41.78 points, or 0.5 percent, to 7,671.79. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks jumped 17.67 points, or 1.1 percent, to 1,670.80.

Benchmark U.S. crude lost 2 percent to $68.76 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 1 percent to $74.25 a barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline slid 1.4 percent to $2.13 a gallon. Heating oil shed 1.8 percent to $2.13 a gallon. Natural gas slipped 0.5 percent to $2.78 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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