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Business Highlights: Wall Street worries, retail sales rise

July 16, 2021 GMT

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As stock prices peak, markets begin to fear looming threats

NEW YORK (AP) — With the U.S. economy humming, corporate profits flowing and stock prices peaking, investors on Wall Street are beginning to pose an anxious question: Is it all downhill from here? Financial markets are always trying to set prices now for where the economy and corporate profits are likely to be in the future. Even though readings across the economy are still at eye-popping levels, investors see some areas of concern. New variants of the coronavirus are threatening to weaken economies around the world. Inflation is raging as supplies of goods and components fall short of surging demand. And the beginning of the end of the Federal Reserve’s assistance for markets is coming into sight.

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US retail sales rose 0.6% in June, better than decline seen

NEW YORK (AP) — Americans spent more last month on clothing and dining out as the economy opened up amid fewer pandemic-related restrictions. U.S. retail sales rose a seasonal adjusted 0.6% in June from the month before, the U.S. Commerce Department said Friday. The increase was a surprise to Wall Street analysts, who had expected sales to fall slightly last month. Sales at bars and restaurants rose 2.3%, according to Friday’s report. Clothing store sales rose by 2.6% and sales at electronic shops were up 3.3%.

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Stocks end a wobbly week lower, breaking 3-week win streak

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks ended a wobbly week broadly lower, with much of Friday’s loss attributable to weakness in big technology companies like Apple and Amazon. The S&P 500 index fell 0.8% and marked its first weekly loss after three weeks of gains. Small-company stocks continued to badly lag the rest of the market, a signal that investors could be becoming more concerned about how strongly the economy will keep growing in coming months. Treasury yields remained relatively low, another sign of caution among investors. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note held steady at 1.29%, well below the 1.75% it fetched in late March.

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Biden comment hints at boosting travel between US and Europe

WASHINGTON (AP) — A comment by President Joe Biden is encouraging airlines to hope that travel between the United States and Europe could be expanded in time for last-minute, late-summer vacation trips. At a news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Biden was asked about ending restrictions that bar most European visitors from entering the United States. Biden said that a team that is advising him on the pandemic “brought that subject up. It’s in the process of (considering) how soon we can lift the ban ... and I will be able to answer that question to you within the next several days.”

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China announces on-site Didi cybersecurity investigation

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BEIJING (AP) — China’s cyber-watchdog has announced an on-site cybersecurity investigation of ride-hailing service Didi, stepping up scrutiny after earlier criticism of its handling of customer information caused the company’s New York-traded shares to tumble. The on-site inspection announced Friday comes two weeks after the regulator said it would probe Didi over national security and data security concerns, days after it went public on the New York Stock Exchange. The company earlier was ordered to stop signing up new customers while it overhauled its collection and handling of information about its users. The ruling Communist Party is tightening control over China’s booming technology industries and information about its public and economy, which it sees as a sensitive strategic asset.

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Walmart loses lawsuit brought by worker with Down syndrome

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Walmart Inc. lost a federal lawsuit in Wisconsin when a jury sided with a sales associate who has Down syndrome and alleged that schedule changes exacerbated attendance problems that led to her firing. The jury in federal court in Green Bay awarded Marlo Spaeth more than $125 million in punitive damages, but a Walmart spokesman said that under federal law, that will be reduced to the maximum allowed, which is $300,000. The jury also awarded Spaeth $150,000 in compensatory damages, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said Friday in announcing the ruling. The EEOC brought the case against Walmart.

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Air cargo company that ditched plane off Hawaii is grounded

HONOLULU (AP) — The cargo airline whose plane ditched into the ocean off Hawaii this month is being grounded by safety regulators. The Federal Aviation Administration said Friday that it will bar Rhoades Aviation of Honolulu from flying or doing maintenance inspections until it complies with FAA regulations. The FAA isn’t saying which regulations the company has failed to meet. The FAA says the decision to ground the cargo airline is separate from the investigation into the July 2 accident in which a Boeing 737 crashed into the Pacific near Honolulu. The Coast Guard rescued both pilots after the nighttime crash.

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China, moving cautiously, starts carbon trading market

BEIJING (AP) — China has begun operating its first nationwide carbon trading market in a step meant to help curb worsening pollution. Chinese power companies bid for credits to emit carbon dioxide and other climate-changing gases as trading started Friday at the Shanghai Environment and Energy Exchange. China is the biggest carbon emitter, but President Xi Jinping said last September that output should peak in 2030 and then decline. He said China should achieve “carbon neutrality,” or zero total output after measures to remove carbon or offset emissions are counted, by 2060. The ruling Communist Party has resisted adopting any binding limits on carbon emissions, saying the country has to focus first on economic development.

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The S&P 500 lost 32.87 points, or 0.8%, to 4,327.16. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 299.17 points, or 0.9%, to 34,687.85. The Nasdaq dropped 115.90 points, or 0.8%, to 14,427.24. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies retreated 27.06 points, or 1.2%, to 2,163.24.