Business Highlights: Child tax credit, Powell seeks patience
Child tax credit starts hitting US families’ bank accounts
WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. government is starting to deposit child tax credit money into the accounts of more than 35 million families. President Joe Biden has expanded the credit for one year as part of coronavirus relief. The result is that most families will now qualify for monthly payments of as much as $300 per child beginning Thursday. Biden is seeking to extend the payments and make them permanent. He says that would cut child poverty in half and help economic growth. Some Republican lawmakers say the payments will make parents less likely to work.
As prices rise at rapid pace, Fed chief seeks patience
WASHINGTON (AP) — Worried about surging prices for everything from food and gas to airplane tickets and clothes? Well, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell had a straightforward message in two days of congressional hearings this week: Just give it more time, and those price gains should slow, or even reverse. Still, the Fed chair also acknowledged that the U.S. economy is engaged in an unprecedented reopening after the sharp pandemic recession, making it much harder to anticipate how things like inflation and unemployment will play out.
US unemployment claims fall to 360,000, a new pandemic low
WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits has reached its lowest level since the pandemic struck last year, further evidence that the U.S. economy and job market are quickly rebounding from the pandemic recession. Thursday’s report from the Labor Department showed that jobless claims fell by 26,000 last week to 360,000. The weekly tally, a proxy for layoffs, has fallen more or less steadily since topping 900,000 in early January.
Microsoft says it blocked spying on rights activists, others
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Microsoft says it’s blocked tools developed by an Israeli hacker-for-hire company that were used to spy on more than 100 people around the world, including politicians, human rights activists, journalists, academics and political dissidents. Microsoft issued a software update and worked with the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto to investigate the secretive Israeli company, known as Candiru, that’s said to be behind the hacking efforts. The reports by Microsoft and Citizen Lab shine new light on a growing and lucrative industry of selling sophisticated hacking tools to governments and law enforcement agencies.
What pairs with beetle? Startups seek to make bugs tasty
LONDON (AP) — Billions of people around the world regularly eat insects but they’re not commonly found in Western diets. That could change because as the Earth’s growing population puts more pressure on global food production, insects are increasingly seen as a viable food source. Experts say they’re rich in protein, yet can be raised much more sustainably than beef or pork. EU regulatory changes are making it easier to market insects directly to the bloc’s consumers. Humans may also end up eating more insects indirectly because of the growing market for bug-based based animal feed, after the EU and U.S. approved insect protein for fish and chicken feed.
Olympic sport of schmoozing eludes corporate sponsors
NEW YORK (AP) — For corporate sponsors, there won’t be much schmoozing at this year’s Olympics in Tokyo, thanks to the pandemic. The corporate sponsorship program has been a key part of the Olympic experience since it began in 1985. More than a dozen or so names like Coca-Cola and Proctor & Gamble pay millions of dollars in each four-year cycle on sponsorship and marketing programs that includes wining and dining athletes, top employees, key clients, and customers at Olympic events. But even with a remote Tokyo Olympics, corporate sponsors still see a golden opportunity to market their brand with such trademark symbols as the torch, experts say.
Video games coming to Netflix? Latest hiring offers a clue
SAN RAMON, Calif. (AP) — Netflix has hired veteran video game executive Mike Verdu, signaling the video streaming service is poised to expand into another fertile field of entertainment. Verdu’s addition as Netflix’s vice president of game development comes as the company tries to sustain the momentum it gathered last year when people turned to the video streaming service to get through lockdowns imposed during the pandemic. After adding a record number of subscribers last year, Netflix has gotten off to a slow start this year. Adding video games would give Netflix another way to keep subscribers hooked on its service.
Stocks close lower, falling below recent record highs
NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks closed lower Thursday, pulling major indexes a bit further below the record highs they marked at the start of the week. Investors continue to focus on where the economy is headed as the pandemic wanes, and also on the latest company earnings reports. The S&P 500 index fell 0.3%. Technology and communications stocks were the biggest weights on the market. Banks, which have been reporting mostly solid financial results, also fell as bond yields headed lower. Investors also got a report from the Labor Department showing that jobless claims fell to another pandemic low.
U.S. factory output dips 0.1% in June on auto chip shortage
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. factory output slid last month as a shortage of computer chips disrupted auto production. Manufacturing production dipped 0.1% in June — third drop in five months, the Federal Reserve reported Thursday. Overall, industrial production — including output at factories, mines and utilities — rose 0.4% last month after increasing 0.7% in May. Excluding autos, industrial production rose 0.4% last month. Utility output climbed 2.7% in June as Americans cranked up the air conditioning to battle a heat wave across much of the country. Mining output rose 1.4% on an uptick in oil and gas production.
The S&P 500 lost 14.27 points, or 0.3%, to 4,360.03. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 53.79 points, or 0.2%, to 34,987.02. The Nasdaq fell 101.82 points, or 0.7%, to 14,543.13. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies dropped 12.07 points, or 0.6%, to 2,190.29.