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Business Highlights: Musk on trial, US drilling approvals

July 12, 2021 GMT

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Musk on trial: Defends SolarCity, calls lawyer ‘bad human’

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — Tesla founder Elon Musk took to a witness stand Monday to defend his company’s 2016 acquisition of a troubled company called SolarCity against a shareholder lawsuit that claims he’s to blame for a deal that was rife with conflicts of interest and never delivered the profits he had promised. And to the surprise of no one, the famously colorful billionaire did so in the most personally combative terms. “I think you are a bad human being,” Musk told Randall Baron, a lawyer for the plaintiffs who was pressing Musk to acknowledge his mistakes in helping engineer the SolarCity acquisition. “I have great respect for the court,” Musk later added, “but not for you, sir.’’

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US drilling approvals increase despite Biden climate pledge

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BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Approvals for companies to drill for oil and gas on U.S. public lands are on pace this year to reach their highest level since George W. Bush was president. That finding from an Associated Press analysis of government drilling data underscores President Joe Biden’s reluctance in the face of industry and Republican resistance to more forcefully curb climate-changing emissions from fossil fuels. The Interior Department approved about 2,500 permits to drill on public and tribal lands in the first six months of the year. That includes more than 2,100 approvals since Biden took office January 20. New Mexico and Wyoming had the largest number of approvals.

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As fears about climate grow, Siemens CEO sees opportunities

DETROIT (AP) — Roland Busch, the CEO of Siemens AG, says his company is well-positioned to help manage the challenges as the world increasingly focuses attention on climate change. Munich-based Siemens specializes in making buildings, factories and railroads more efficient through digitalization and automation. And its medical unit includes technology that could lead to faster treatments for stroke patients. Siemens has predicted 5% to 7% annual revenue growth for the next three to five years, based largely on its expectation that demand for its products involved in energy efficiency will steadily increase.

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Stock indexes notch more records ahead of earnings reports

NEW YORK (AP) — Major stock indexes notched more record highs on Wall Street Monday as investors look ahead to a wave of earnings reports from big U.S. companies coming out this week. Major banks get things started on Tuesday as JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs put out their results for the three months ended in June. A handful of other big companies also report this week, including Delta Air Lines, PepsiCo and UnitedHealth Group. The S&P 500 rose 0.3% and the Nasdaq composite rose 0.2%. Small-company stocks lagged the rest of the market. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.37%.

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Cuba’s internet cutoff: A go-to tactic to suppress dissent

NEW YORK (AP) — Cubans facing the country’s worst economic crisis in decades took to the streets over the weekend. In turn, authorities blocked social media sites in an apparent effort to stop the flow of information into, out of and within the beleaguered nation. Restricting internet access has become a tried-and-true method of stifling dissent by authoritarian regimes around the world. Cuban authorities were blocking Facebook, WhatsApp and Telegram on Monday in an apparent effort to stifle information sharing on social media. But such cutoffs have tended to be limited in duration, in part because they affect a much larger swathe of the population than before.

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Nordstrom buys minority share in 4 UK fashion brands

NEW YORK (AP) — Nordstrom says it’s acquiring a minority interest in four fashion brands owned by a British company called Asos as the department store aims to reach out to younger customers. The brands — Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge and HIIT — were purchased by Asos in February after their previous owner and British fashion empire Arcadia Group filed for bankruptcy in late 2020. The financial terms weren’t disclosed. As part of the agreement, Asos will retain operational and creative control of the Topshop brands, but Nordstrom will now have the exclusive retail rights for Topshop and Topman in all of North America including Canada and own a minority stake globally.

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After Branson flight, Virgin Galactic slumps on stock sale

NEW YORK (AP) — Virgin Galactic’s shares turned sharply lower Monday after the spaceflight company said it’s made arrangements to sell up to $500 million in stock. The disclosure comes a day after founder Richard Branson briefly rocketed into space aboard Virgin’s winged space plane for the first time in what was the company’s highest-profile flight yet as it looks to begin taking up customers next year. Trading in the stock, which was down about 15%, was briefly halted shortly after the stock market opened. Virgin is still up 76% so far this year.

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Volvo Trucks to restart Virginia factory as strike continues

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — Volvo Trucks North America says some striking workers have crossed picket lines at a southwestern Virginia factory as the company plans to restart production. Spokesman John Mies wouldn’t say how many United Auto Workers members went inside the factory in Dublin, Virginia, near Roanoke. But he says in an email it will take a few days to get assembly lines up and running at the heavy-truck plant. It employs about 2,900 UAW workers who began striking in April. Union spokesman Brian Rothenberg says about 10 workers entered the plant Monday, in addition to a handful who had crossed lines earlier.

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The S&P 500 advanced 15.08 points, or 0.3%, to 4,384.63. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 126.02 points, or 0.4%, to 34,996.18. The Nasdaq gained 31.32 points, or 0.2%, to 14,733.24. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies added 1.82 points, or 0.1%, to 2,281.83.