Business Highlights


Published July 28, 2015 9:31PM (EDT)


From rents to haircuts, Americans start to feel price hikes

WASHINGTON (AP) —An unfamiliar sight for U.S. consumers has emerged in parts of the economy — higher prices.

The price increases remain modest, but they are the largest since the Great Recession ended six years ago. These increases actually reflect a healthier economy as many businesses have finally grown confident enough to pass their own higher costs on to consumers without fear of losing customers.

Signs of emergent inflation are a key reason the Federal Reserve will likely raise interest rates from record lows later this year. Inflation has long trailed the Fed's 2 percent target rate but is on track to return to that level in coming months


Ford surprises in 2Q with record North American profit

DEARBORN, Michigan (AP) — Ford Motor Co.'s net income jumped 44 percent to $1.9 billion in the second quarter as global sales rose and customers paid more for new trucks and SUVs with premium features.

Ford pulled off a record quarterly profit of $2.6 billion in North America even though dealerships weren't fully stocked with its best-selling vehicle, the F-150 pickup. The results bode well for the second half of the year, when Ford's two U.S. truck plants will be in full production and dealers will have more pickups to sell.


Strong home sales, limited supply lift US home prices in May

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. home prices rose steadily in May, pushed higher by a healthy increase in sales this year.

The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index climbed 4.9 percent in May from 12 months earlier, down slightly from a 5 percent pace in April, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices.

Home sales have jumped in recent months as an improving economy boosts hiring and enables more people to afford a purchase. Yet the higher sales haven't encouraged more people to sell their homes, leaving supplies tight and driving up prices.


US consumer confidence falls to lowest level since September

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. consumer confidence fell this month to the lowest level since September on consumer worries about the job market and events in Greece and China.

The Conference Board said Tuesday that its index of consumer confidence fell to 90.9 in July from a revised 99.8 in June. That's the lowest since September's reading of 89.

Consumers' assessment of current conditions fell slightly to a still-healthy 107.4 from 110.3 in June; but their outlook for the next six months dropped sharply to 79.9 this month, the lowest since February 2014 and down from 92.8 in June.


UAE slashes fuel subsidies, announces 24 percent price hike

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The United Arab Emirates has slashed gasoline subsidies, announcing Tuesday that it will raise the cost of a liter of regular gasoline by 24 percent amid globally low oil prices that have cut into the country's revenues.

The move is part of a wider strategy to phase out subsidies and offset the effect of a drop in revenues.

The hike in gasoline prices will likely affect lower-income foreign residents. In the UAE, foreign residents — many of whom are lower-income— by far outnumber locals.


High rollers: Dealers describe special treatment, abuse

UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) — One high roller requests a refrigerator full of bananas that he squeezes and throws as he gambles. Another urinates against a wall. Other high-stakes players throw chairs, scream at dealers and expect rules to be bent at the tables.

In the increasing competition for the biggest spenders, casinos are known to pull out all the stops with comped hotel rooms, meals and rebates for a percentage of their losses. But some dealers say efforts to satisfy and retain the players go much further, with casinos tolerating abuse and extending courtesies that test the integrity of the games.


Volkswagen sold more vehicles than Toyota in first half

TOKYO (AP) — Volkswagen overtook Toyota in global vehicle sales for January-June, the first time the German automaker has come out top in the intensely competitive tallies.

Japanese automaker Toyota Motor Corp. said Tuesday it sold 5.02 million vehicles in the first six months of this year, down 1.5 percent from last year. Its sales struggled notably in the languishing Japanese market.

Volkswagen AG said earlier this month that it sold 5.04 million vehicles during the same period. Its first-half sales were 0.5 percent down from the same period in 2014.


Scientists worry about arms race in artificial intelligence

LONDON (AP) — Scientists and tech experts — including professor Stephen Hawking and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak — warned Tuesday of a global arms race with weapons using artificial intelligence.

Industry and science leaders argued that if any major military power pushes ahead with development of autonomous weapons, "a global arms race is virtually inevitable."

Some people have argued in favor of robots on the battlefield, saying their use could save lives. But experts warned of the possibility of mass production and the potential of it appearing on the black market or hands of terrorists or other evil-doers.


Greece advances in loan talks, under fire for euro exit plan

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece pushed ahead with talks on a new rescue loan Tuesday, but its government came under increasing pressure over claims it had a top-secret plan to prepare for a euro exit that involved accessing citizens' personal tax data.

Emissaries from Greece's international creditors held a second day of preparatory talks with Greek officials, ahead of higher-level negotiations later this week on the country's new multi-billion euro lifeline.

The talks in Athens aim to thrash out the terms of the deal — worth about 85 billion euros ($94 billion) over three years — before Aug. 20, when Greece must make a debt payment that it cannot afford without new loans.

US indexes advance on strong earnings; China stabilizes


NEW YORK (AP) — Global stock markets steadied and U.S. markets advanced Tuesday, as investors were encouraged by strong results from UPS, Ford and other big companies. The recovery comes after five straight days of losses for U.S. markets.

Meanwhile, the Shanghai Composite Index closed down 1.7 percent after trading down as much as 4 percent earlier in the day. The index had plunged 8.5 percent on Monday, its biggest drop since February 2007, despite concerted efforts by the Chinese government to stem the market's slide.


By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 189.68 points, or 1.1 percent, to close at 17,630.27. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 25.61 points, or 1.2 percent, to 2,093.25 and the Nasdaq composite rose 49.43 points, or 1 percent, to 5,089.21.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose 59 cents to close at $47.98 a barrel in New York. Brent crude fell 17 to close at $53.30 a barrel in London. In other trading, wholesale gasoline fell 1.7 cents to close at $1.803 a gallon, heating oil rose 0.8 cents to close at $1.604 a gallon and natural gas rose 3.2 cents to close at $2.821 per 1,000 cubic feet.



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