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Update on the latest in business:

October 19, 2017


Stocks slightly lower

NEW YORK (AP) — Technology companies and banks were leading U.S. stocks slightly lower in midday trading on Wall Street as the market pulls back from its latest record highs.

At 1:30 p.m. Eastern time, the Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 2.56 points to 2,558.70.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 25 points, or 0.11 percent to 23,132.61. The Nasdaq composite lost 34 points to 6,590.


Toyota tops Consumer Reports’ auto reliability rankings

DETROIT (AP) — Toyota is the top brand in Consumer Reports’ annual vehicle reliability rankings.

Toyota Motor Co.’s luxury Lexus brand is second, followed by Kia, Audi and BMW. Meanwhile, Cadillac, GMC, Ram, Dodge and Volvo got the poorest scores.

Consumer Reports’ auto testing chief Jake Fisher says Toyota’s strategy of adding new technology gradually — instead of all at once — helps make its vehicles more reliable. Toyota’s new Camry sedan, for example, has an eight-speed transmission that was first tested on the Highlander SUV.

Chrysler was the biggest climber in the rankings, thanks to consumers’ reviews of its new Pacifica minivan.

Consumer Reports predicts reliability of 2018 vehicles based on a survey of its subscribers, who owned or leased 640,000 vehicles from the 2000-2017 model years.


NYC, Buffalo-Rochester among NY contenders for 2nd Amazon HQ

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Metro New York City, Buffalo-Rochester, greater Syracuse and the Albany region are all in the running to win Amazon’s second headquarters.

All four regions submitted formal bids for the $5 billion project before today’s deadline.

All four take a regional approach, with the New York City proposal covering Long Island and suburban Westchester County as well.

Howard Zemsky, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s top economic development official, wouldn’t reveal what financial incentives the state is ready to offer. But he says that when factors including transportation access, workforce, economy and quality of life are considered he expects New York to be among the strongest competitors.

Cities across the country and Canada were expected to submit bids to Amazon. The Seattle-based retail tech giant says the project could create up to 50,000 jobs.


Missouri proposes innovation corridor for Amazon’s 2nd home

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri officials are proposing an innovation corridor between Kansas City and St. Louis for a new Amazon location instead of a single headquarters in one of the metropolitan areas.

Missouri Chief Operating Officer Drew Erdmann says an innovation corridor could also include Columbia, the home of the University of Missouri. Erdmann says the cities could be connected if a high-speed Hyperloop track is built in the state.

Amazon in September opened the search for a second headquarters and promised to spend more than $5 billion on the site. The Seattle-based company says it would bring up to 50,000 jobs.

Kansas City, St. Louis and many other North American cities have submitted individual applications to become Amazon’s second home.


CEO of Goldman Sachs hints at further Brexit move

LONDON (AP) — The CEO of Goldman Sachs has hinted the banking giant could be sending more jobs from London to Frankfurt following Britain’s exit from the European.

Lloyd Blankfein tweeted today that Germany’s financial hub may be gaining more of his attention. He wrote, “Just left Frankfurt. Great meetings, great weather, really enjoyed it. Good, because I’ll be spending a lot more time there. #Brexit.”

Goldman Sachs employs around 5,500 people in London and has said its 200-strong employee base in Frankfurt could double as part of its Brexit contingency plans.

Many international banks with EU headquarters in London are considering moving some operations elsewhere in the EU amid the pending divorce from the 28-nation EU. They want to safeguard the right to keep working in all EU countries.


BP chairman who presided over Gulf spill crisis to retire

LONDON (AP) — Energy firm BP says its chairman, Carl-Henric Svanberg, who presided over the company during the Deepwater Horizon spill, has decided to retire.

Svanberg became chairman only months before the disaster, which killed 11 people and led to an environmental catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico.

Svanberg says, “The first couple of years were incredibly challenging for us all as we navigated an unusually complex corporate crisis. Through that turbulent period we stayed focused on saving and restoring the company. Today I can say with confidence that BP is back and ready for the future.”

Svanberg will preside over the next annual general meeting in May and remain in position until a successor is chosen.


Workers at iPhone supplier in China protest unpaid bonuses

SHANGHAI (AP) — Apple Inc. says it will investigate underpayment of bonuses after workers staged a night protest at an iPhone supplier in eastern China.

Witnesses said hundreds gathered Wednesday night to protest unpaid bonuses that were promised by labor brokers who recruited staff for Jabil Inc.’s Green Point factory in Wuxi city.

Apple says it will require Jabil to survey employees and “create an action plan” to ensure promised bonuses get paid.

Apple has been publishing the names of its top suppliers since 2012. It ramped up supply chain oversight following negative reports about worker suicides and factory explosions.


JetBlue to stop selling tickets on a dozen travel websites

NEW YORK (AP) — JetBlue will stop selling tickets on a dozen discount travel websites in hopes of driving customers to the airline’s site and reducing the company’s costs.

JetBlue Airways Corp. says that the change was the first step in revamping its system of selling tickets online.

The sites being dropped are mostly not well known, including SmartFares.com and MyFlightSearch.com.

A JetBlue spokesman says a small percentage of customers use the sites being dropped, but he declined to provide numbers. He says the change has been in the works for several months.

Southwest Airlines notably restricts most of its ticket sales to the airline’s own site. In recent years airlines have taken other steps to reduce distribution costs, including cutting commissions.


US long-term mortgage rates fall; 30-year at 3.88 percent

WASHINGTON (AP) — Long-term U.S. mortgage rates slipped this week, reversing two straight weekly increases.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the average rate on 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages fell to 3.88 percent from 3.91 percent last week. A year ago, the benchmark rate stood at 3.52 percent.

The rate on 15-year, fixed-rate mortgages, popular with homeowners who are refinancing, dipped to 3.19 percent from 3.21 percent last week. A year ago, the 15-year rate was 2.79 percent.

Long-term home loan rates tend to track the yield on 10-year U.S. Treasury notes, which fell this week.

The average rate on five-year adjustable-rate home loans rose to 3.17 percent this week from 3.16 percent last week and 2.85 percent a year ago.


US unemployment claims fall to 222,000, lowest in 44 years

WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of Americans collecting unemployment benefits fell last week to the lowest level in 44 years, another sign that most workers enjoy job security.

The Labor Department says claims for jobless aid dropped by 22,000 to 222,000, fewest since March 1973. The less volatile four-week average slid by 9,500 to 248,250, lowest since late August.

Unemployment claims are a proxy for layoffs. The low level suggests that employers are confident enough in the economy to hold onto workers. The unemployment rate last month hit a 16-year low 4.2 percent.

The economic impact of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma has faded in Texas and Florida. But the Labor Department says that Hurricanes Irma and Maria have disrupted the ability of people to file claims in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.


Retail giant Target announces plans for first Vermont store

SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — The retail giant Target says it plans to open its first Vermont store a year from now.

Target says that once the planned 60,000-square-foot store opens in at the University Mall in South Burlington in October 2018, it will have stores in all 50 states.

Target Vice President Mark Schindele says the company’s expansion into Vermont is long overdue.

The company plans to hire about 75 employees and by the end of 2020, all will be paid a minimum of $15 an hour.

Republican Gov. Phil Scott says that while Vermont may be the last state to host a Target, he expects it to become quickly a part of the community.


Target sees its new Manhattan store a symbol of its future

NEW YORK (AP) — Target sees its new smaller store in Manhattan as a symbol of its future.

The store opening Friday, which is about one-third the size of the average Target store, will offer same-day delivery and a selection of products more tailored to the local market. In Herald Square, it’s one of 12 mostly small-format stores opening this week in urban markets like Chicago, Los Angeles and Philadelphia.

Target opened its first-small-format store in Manhattan in the TriBeCa section a year ago. It currently operates 38 nationwide. CEO Brian Cornell says small-format stores are twice as productive as the average store.

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