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Business Highlights: Accelerated hiring, Wall Street records

July 2, 2021 GMT

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US hiring accelerated in June as workers earned higher pay

WASHINGTON (AP) — America’s employers added 850,000 jobs in June, well above the average of the previous three months and a sign that companies may be having an easier time finding enough workers to fill open jobs. Friday’s report from the Labor Department was the latest sign that the reopening of the economy is propelling a powerful rebound from the pandemic recession. Restaurant traffic across the country is nearly back to pre-pandemic levels, and more people are shopping, traveling and attending sports and entertainment events. The number of people flying each day has regained about 80% of its pre-COVID-19 levels.

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Stocks again post records following encouraging jobs data

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks again closed higher on Wall Street Friday, with the S&P 500 posting its seventh straight gain and seventh consecutive all-time high. The benchmark index gained 0.8% Friday. The Dow and Nasdaq also rose after a report showed the nation’s job market was stronger last month than expected. It’s a sign that more workers are returning to the labor force, though there’s still a ways to go before it returns to full strength. Some investors say that should keep the Federal Reserve on course to maintain its support for the economy a while longer. Treasury yields were flat to lower.

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San Francisco Fed’s Daly: Economy doing better than expected

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Reserve officials are divided over how quickly they should adjust their policies, with interest rates ultra-low even as the U.S. economy swiftly improves. Should they begin to withdraw their extraordinary support for the economy relatively soon? Or should they hold off until the job market has moved closer to full health? In an interview this week with The Associated Press, Mary Daly, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, suggested that the economy “is really shaping up nicely right now” and is “able to start functioning more and more on its own, which means we can withdraw a little bit of our accommodation.”

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Court strikes Trump EPA rule for full-year 15% ethanol sales

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A federal appeals court says a 2019 Environmental Protection Agency rule change that allowed for the sale of a 15% ethanol gasoline blend in the summer months is contrary to federal law. Friday’s ruling deals a significant blow to the ethanol industry and corn farmers. They had anticipated increased ethanol demand through year around sale of the higher ethanol blend. The Trump administration made the change to allow for year-round E15 sales to fulfill a campaign promise to Midwest farmers. Three judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia found that federal law is clear that lawmakers did not intend to allow ethanol blends higher than 10% to be widely sold year-round.

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US plans to make airlines refund fees if bags are delayed

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration is planning to require that airlines refund fees on checked baggage if the bags get seriously delayed. The proposal would also require refunds for fees on extras like internet access if the airline fails to provide the service during the flight. An administration official says the Transportation Department will issue the proposal in the next several days, and it could take effect by next summer. Airlines made nearly $5.8 billion from checked-bag fees in 2019, the last year before the pandemic crushed air travel.

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France probes claims that retailers used forced Uyghur labor

PARIS (AP) — French prosecutors have opened an investigation into alleged involvement in crimes against humanity based on claims that global retailers rely on forced labor in China. Human rights groups filed a legal complaint that includes accusations against retailers including Uniqlo and the makers of Skechers shoes and Zara clothes. The rights groups say the companies are benefiting from a Chinese system of repression against Uyghur and other Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region. The Chinese government on Friday reiterated denials of any forced labor in Xinjiang, and lashed out at what it called interference in its internal affairs.

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US trade deficit increases to $71.2 billion in May

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. trade deficit widened in May as $71.2 billion as a small increase in exports was offset by a bigger rise in imports. The Commerce Department reported Friday that the deficit rose 3.1% from the revised April deficit of $69.1 billion The U.S. trade deficit had hit a monthly record of $75 billion in March. In May, exports of U.S. goods and services rose 0.6% to $206 billion. But that was offset by a 1.3% gain in imports which hit $277.3 billion. Through the first five months of this year, the U.S. trade deficit totals $353.1 billion, up a sizable 45.8% from the deficit during the same period last year when Americans’ appetite for imported goods was being held back by the pandemic.

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The S&P 500 rose 32.40 points, or 0.8%, to 4,352.34. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 152.82 points, or 0.4%, to 34,786.35. The Nasdaq advanced 116.95 points, or 0.8%, to 14,639.33. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fell 23.60 points, or 1%, to 2,305.76.