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Update on the latest in business:

June 7, 2017


US stock indexes edge higher in morning trading; oil slumps


U.S. stocks inched higher in midday trading as gains in banks were partially outweighed by a slide in energy companies following a steep slump in crude oil prices. Investors were sizing up the latest company earnings and looking ahead to former FBI Director James Comey’s congressional testimony Thursday as part of the investigation into Russia’s possible election meddling.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose less than 1 point to 2,429 as of 12:39 p.m. Eastern Time. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 12 points, or 0.1 percent, to 21,148. The Nasdaq composite index added 9 points, or 0.2 percent, to 6,284.


Ford increasing summer production of SUVs

DETROIT (AP) — Ford Motor Co. will operate its Kentucky SUV plant for an extra week this summer to meet demand for the Ford Escape and Lincoln MKC.

Ford’s North American plants normally have a two-week shutdown in July, but the Louisville Assembly Plant will take only one week. It will build more than 8,500 vehicles during that extra week.

U.S. sales of the Escape were up 3 percent through May, while MKC sales were up 10 percent. Overall industry sales are down 2 percent, according to Autodata Corp.

Ford says the rest of its North American assembly plants will have a two-week shutdown.

Some of Ford’s North American parts plants also will take one week instead of two, including metal stamping plants in Chicago and Michigan and an engine plant in Mexico.


Delphi, Transdev to partner on self-driving buses

DETROIT (AP) — Auto supplier Delphi is partnering with French transport company Transdev to develop self-driving taxis and buses.

The companies will combine Delphi’s self-driving technology with Transdev’s background in mobility operations to develop self-driving transit. Transdev operates trains, buses, ferries and other services in 19 countries, including the U.S.

The companies will start with two pilot projects in France this year. In Rouen, they will test self-driving taxis, while in Paris they will test self-driving vans — and eventually buses — that will move between a rail station and campus in the university district of Paris-Saclay.

The partnership comes less than a month after U.K.-based Delphi joined with BMW, Intel and Mobileye to develop autonomous vehicles. Delphi makes the computing platform that brings together information from the car’s sensors, cameras and computers.


Air traffic privatization plan hits turbulence in Congress

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s plan to privatize the nation’s air traffic control system is running into bipartisan opposition in Congress. Lawmakers fret the plan could raise costs for air travelers and hurt small airports.

Republican Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi said the plan “is a tough sell” in states like his, where small airports are common. Wicker told Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao at a hearing today that that “the sale needs to be made, and it needs to be made convincingly.”

Republican Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas said the administration’s plan would hurt “all but our largest airports nationwide” and remove needed congressional oversight.

Lawmakers from both parties also pointed to the unprecedented safety under the current system. Eight years have passed since the last fatal crash of a domestic airliner.


Justice Dept. ending settlement payouts to outside groups

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department will no longer allow big companies and banks to settle cases by donating to outside organizations, ending a little-known practice that had become a rallying cry for some conservatives.

In a memo released early today, Attorney General Jeff Sessions says he is ending the obscure practice that allowed companies to meet some of their settlement burdens by giving money to groups that were neither victims nor parties to the case. Sessions says that money should go to the U.S. Treasury Department or victims.

The change is sure to please conservatives who had argued donations were going to Democratic advocacy groups and liberal causes. Republican lawmakers this year introduced a bill that would prohibit the Justice Department from requiring defendants to donate money to outside groups.


Ryan won’t commit to Treasury timetable for debt increase

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker Paul Ryan won’t commit to holding a vote to increase the government’s borrowing authority this summer.

The Wisconsin Republicans instead says the House will vote on such debt legislation before the government defaults — but not necessarily by an August deadline requested last month by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Increasing the so-called debt limit is needed to avert a first-ever default on U.S. obligations such as interest payments and Social Security benefits.

The government has officially hit its borrowing capacity, but Mnuchin is using accounting maneuvers to maintain the government’s solvency for the time being.

Mnuchin hasn’t publicly said when Treasury will run out of options to avert a default, but outside experts have estimated that the government probably won’t run out of money until September or later.


SemGroup buying Houston Fuel Oil Terminal Co. in $2B deal

HOUSTON (AP) — SemGroup Corp. plans to buy Houston Fuel Oil Terminal Co. in a more than $2 billion deal.

SemGroup on Tuesday announced the planned acquisition from investment funds managed by Alinda Capital Partners. The agreement, including about 330 acres (130 hectares) along the Houston Ship Channel, is expected to close in the third quarter of this year.

SemGroup, based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is a petroleum pipeline and storage company.

Houston Fuel Oil Terminal Co. stores, blends and transports residual fuel and crude oil via pipeline, ship, barge, rail and truck. The storage site includes more than 140 tanks ranging in size from 10,000 barrels to 400,000 barrels.


Massachusetts medical pot dispensary selling marijuana pizza

QUINCY, Mass. (AP) — Call it a “pizza pot pie.”

A Massachusetts medical marijuana dispensary has created a new dish for patients who don’t want to smoke their pot or eat it in the form of sweets.

Quincy-based Ermont Inc. has been selling cannabis-infused pizza for about three weeks to rave reviews.

Director of Operations Seth Yaffe says the company has a whole range of marijuana edibles, but he wanted to offer meals that patients could eat without a lot of sugar.

The 6-inch cheese pizzas sell for $38 apiece. The tomato sauce contains 125 milligrams of THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana. The company has sold about 200 already. Yaffe says if patients want toppings, they can add their own.

Only people with state-issued medical marijuana ID cards are eligible to buy the pies.

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