Business Highlights: Summer travel, auto sales slump
After two pandemic years, a summer travel bounce — and chaos
JERUSALEM (AP) — Summer travel is underway across the globe, but a full recovery from two years of coronavirus could last as long as the pandemic itself. Interviews by The Associated Press in 11 countries this month show that the most passionate travelers are thronging to locales like the French Riviera, Amsterdam and the American Midwest. But even as safety restrictions fall, places like Israel, India and Rome are reporting only fractions of the record-setting tourism of 2019. For them, a full recovery isn’t forecast until at least 2024. China, once the world’s biggest source of tourists, remains closed per its “zero-COVID” policy. That’s holding down the rebound in many countries.
Pre-pandemic sized crowds descend on US airports for holiday
DALLAS (AP) — The fireworks are still a few days away, but travel for the July Fourth weekend is off to a booming start. The Transportation Security Administration said Friday that it screened more people on Thursday than it did on the same day in 2019, before the pandemic. Travelers so far seem to be experiencing fewer delays and canceled flights than they did earlier this week. But it’s still early. Leisure travel has bounced back this year, offsetting weakness in business travel and international flying. Still, the total number of people flying has not quite recovered fully to pre-pandemic levels.
Chip shortage keeps driving up auto prices, cutting sales
DETROIT (AP) — U.S. new vehicle sales tumbled more than 21% in the second quarter compared with a year ago as the global semiconductor shortage continued to cause production problems for the industry. Yet demand continued to outstrip supply from April through June, even with $5 per gallon gasoline, high inflation and rising interest rates. The low supply has raised prices to record levels, knocking many consumers out of the new-vehicle market. Edmunds.com said that automakers sold 3.49 million vehicles during the quarter, nearly 933,000 fewer than the same period last year. J.D. Power estimates that the average sales price of a new vehicle for the first six months of the year hit nearly $45,000, a record that is 17.5% higher than a year ago.
Kohl’s sale falls apart in shaky retail environment
SILVER SPRING, Md. (AP) — The potential sale of the Kohl’s department store chain has fallen apart in a shaky retail environment of rising inflation and consumer anxiety. Kohl’s entered exclusive talks early this month with Franchise Group, the owner of Vitamin Shop and other retail outlets, for a deal potentially worth about $8 billion. On Friday, Kohl’s Chairman Pete Boneparth cited volatile markets and the rising economic anxiety among customers as the reasons. It was the second time this week that a major retailer retreated from a potential sale due to worsening economic conditions. Walgreen’s said Thursday that it was giving up on its hopes of selling its Boots business in the UK.
Wall Street closes higher but still ends week in the red
NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks shook off a morning slump and ended higher Friday, but not enough to erase their losses for the week. It was the fourth losing week in the last five for Wall Street. The latest choppy trading comes as investors worry about high inflation and the possibility that higher interest rates could bring on a recession. The S&P 500 rose 1.1%. The benchmark index is coming off of its worst quarter since the onset of the pandemic in early 2020. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1% and the Nasdaq added 0.9%. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 2.89%.
Inflation hits record 8.6% for 19 countries using the euro
LONDON (AP) — Inflation in countries using the euro set another eye-watering record, pushed higher by a huge increase in energy costs fueled partly by Russia’s war in Ukraine. Annual inflation in the eurozone’s 19 countries hit 8.6% in June, surging past the 8.1% recorded in May. That’s according to the latest numbers published Friday by the European Union statistics agency, Eurostat. Inflation is at its highest level since recordkeeping for the euro began in 1997. Energy prices rocketed 41.9% and food prices were up 8.9%, both faster than the increases recorded in the previous month. Rising consumer prices are a problem worldwide, with the U.S. and Britain seeing inflation at 40-year highs.
Russia seizes control of partly foreign-owned energy project
MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin has handed full control over a major oil and natural gas project partly owned by Shell and two Japanese companies to a newly created Russian firm. It’s a bold move amid spiraling tensions with the West over Moscow’s military action in Ukraine. Putin’s decree late Thursday orders the creation of a new firm that would take over ownership of Sakhalin Energy Investment Co. It’s nearly 50% controlled by British energy giant Shell and Japan-based Mitsui and Mitsubishi. Russia’s Gazprom had a controlling stake in the Sakhalin-2 oil and gas project that accounts for about 4% of the world’s liquefied natural gas market. Japan, South Korea and China are the main customers for its exports.
EU prepares emergency plan to do without Russian energy
PRAGUE (AP) — The European Union’s executive arm has pledged to draft an emergency plan aimed at helping member countries do without Russian energy in the wake of the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen says the initiative would build on EU moves to ditch Russian coal, oil and natural gas and would complement a bloc-wide push to accelerate the development of renewable energy such as wind and solar power. Von der Leyen spoke Friday in the Czech town of Litomysl, where she marked the start of the country’s six-month stint as holder of the rotating EU presidency.
The S&P 500 rose 39.95 points, or 1.1%, to 3,825.33. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 321.83 points, or 1%, to 31,097.26. The Nasdaq added 99.11 points, or 0.9%, to 11,127.85. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies ended up 19.77 points, or 1.2%, to 1,727.76.