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Update on the latest in business:

September 20, 2018

WALL STREET

Stocks surge higher

NEW YORK (AP) — A wave of buying has sent U.S. stocks solidly higher, pushing the Dow Jones Industrial Average above the all-time high it reached in January.

The S&P 500, the benchmark for many index funds, was also above the peak it reached last month.

A weaker dollar and a mix of mostly encouraging economic data helped put investors in a buying mood Thursday.

Technology stocks, banks and health care companies accounted for much of the rally. Utilities and other safe-play stocks lagged as investors shoveled money into riskier assets.

HOME-SALES

US home sales were flat in August

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. sales of existing homes were unchanged in August, as a shortage of houses priced at less than $250,000 — a level considered to be affordable for the middle class — has become a drag on the real estate market.

The National Association of Realtors says homes sold last month at a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 5.34 million. Existing home sales have fallen 1.5 percent during the past 12 months.

Price gains are moderating, and the total number of sales listings is increasing. But the sales momentum is increasingly concentrated on homes worth more than $500,000, while sales of homes worth less than $250,000 have tumbled over the past year.

The median sales price in July increased 4.6 percent from a year ago to $264,800.

MORTGAGE RATES

Average US mortgage rates rise; 30-year at 4.65 percent

WASHINGTON (AP) — Long-term U.S. mortgage rates are up for the fourth consecutive week, with the key 30-year rate reaching its highest level since May.

Costs for would-be homebuyers continue to climb. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate on 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages jumped to 4.65 percent, from 4.60 percent last week. The average rate has increased from 3.83 percent a year ago.

The average rate on 15-year, fixed-rate loans rose to 4.11 percent this week from 4.06 percent last week.

NET WORTH

Buoyant stock market lifted US household wealth last quarter

WASHINGTON (AP) — Solid stock market returns lifted U.S. household wealth to a record $106.9 trillion in the April-June quarter, a culmination of a decade of economic recovery but a gain that is concentrated largely among the most affluent.

The Federal Reserve says the value of Americans’ stock and mutual fund portfolios rose $800 billion, while home values increased $600 billion. Total household wealth is now 2.1 percent higher than in the first quarter, when it stood at $104.7 trillion.

The figures reflect the value of assets like homes, bank accounts and stocks minus debts like mortgages and credit cards. The data aren’t adjusted for inflation or population growth.

They also don’t reflect the experience of most U.S. households. The richest one-tenth of Americans own about 84 percent of the value of stocks.

UNDER ARMOUR-JOB CUTS

Under Armour cuts global workforce by 3 percent

BALTIMORE (AP) — Under Armour will cut its global workforce by 3 percent by the end of March.

The Baltimore sports gear company said Thursday that it now anticipates restructuring-related charges this year of between about $200 million and $220 million. It previously projected restructuring charges between $190 million to $210 million.

Excluding those costs, Under Armour Inc. expects full-year profits of between 16 and 19 cents per share. Its prior outlook was for 14 to 19 cents per share. Analysts polled by FactSet expect earnings of 16 cents per share.

Shares rose 2.7 percent before the opening bell.

GAP-ATHLETIC CLOTHING

The Gap steps into the men’s athleisure game

NEW YORK (AP) — The Gap is stepping in to the men’s athleisure wear game, which has exploded in recent years.

The clothes are intended to be formal enough to wear to the office, at least on casual Friday, and suitable for the gym or yoga studio directly afterward.

Gap’s Hill City brand will roll out in mid-October at hillcity.com and will be on display at 50 of the clothing chain’s Athleta stores, which sell technical, athletic clothing for women.

The Gap Inc. is struggling with weak sales and follows others in recognizing a sustained demand for work-to-yoga studio clothing.

Last month VF Corp., which makes Wrangler and Lee jeans, said it would break off its denim division to focus on its faster-growing brands like The North Face, Timberland, Altra, Icebreaker and Williamson-Dickie.

GROUND BEEF RECALL

Colorado meatpacker recalls ground beef after E. coli death

FORT MORGAN, Colo. (AP) — A Colorado meatpacker is recalling more than 132,000 pounds (60,000 kilograms) of ground beef after an E. coli outbreak killed one person and sickened 17.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Wednesday the beef was produced and packaged at Cargill Meat Solutions in Fort Morgan on June 21 and shipped to retailers nationwide.

The products include 3-, 10- and 20-pound (1.3-, 4.5- and 9-kilogram) packages of ground beef under the Our Certified, Excel, Sterling Silver, Certified and Fire River Farms brands with July 11 use or freeze by dates.

The Cargill plant had a smaller recall of Excel ground beef in August, but no illnesses had been reported at that time.

Most people infected with E. coli develop diarrhea and vomiting. More severe infections can lead to kidney failure.

JD-CHINESE BILLIONAIRE ARRESTED

Prosecutors in Minneapolis to review Liu sexual assault case

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minneapolis police have finished their investigation into a sexual assault allegation against Chinese billionaire Richard Liu and have turned the case over to prosecutors.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman says prosecutors will review the evidence and make a charging decision. There is no deadline.

The founder of the Beijing-based e-commerce site JD.com was arrested Aug. 31 in Minneapolis on suspicion of felony rape. A police report doesn’t provide details. Liu was released and returned to China.

Liu is a student with the Carlson School of Management’s doctor of business administration China program and was in Minneapolis for a Aug. 26 to Sept. 1 residency.

JD.com has said Liu was falsely accused. His defense attorneys say he’s innocent.

Liu is known in Chinese as Liu Qiangdong. He is worth $7.5 billion.

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