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Business Highlights: The Fed’s bond buys, T-Mobile breach

August 18, 2021 GMT

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Fed discussed pulling back on bond purchases later this year

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Reserve officials last month discussed the timing for beginning to dial back their extraordinary support for the U.S. economy, which has been steadily recovering from the pandemic recession. They made no firm decision on a timetable but appear to be moving toward starting a pullback before year’s end. The minutes of the Fed’s July meeting said it concluded that it would be appropriate to acknowledge that the economy was making progress in achieving the Fed’s goals on inflation and employment. As a result, the central bank is edging toward an announcement that it will soon begin paring the pace of its Treasury and mortgage bond buying, which now amounts to $120 billion a month.

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Housing construction slumps 7% in July to 1.53 million units

WASHINGTON (AP) — Home construction fell a sharp 7% in July as homebuilders struggled to cope with a variety of headwinds. The July decline put home construction at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.53 million units, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday. Applications for building permits, which can forecast future activity, rose 2.6% in July from the June level to an annual rate of 1.64 million units.

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China state firms invest in TikTok sibling, Weibo chat app

BEIJING (AP) — China appears to be taking greater control of ByteDance, the Chinese company that owns global video app TikTok, and Weibo, China’s version of Twitter. State-backed firms took stakes in Chinese subsidiaries of the two companies this April and last year. Beijing has been clamping down on its technology sector with investigations and new rules. Its newly reported involvement with ByteDance raised concerns in the U.S. about the effect on TikTok, which has millions of U.S. users. A ByteDance spokesperson said the Chinese subsidiary in question doesn’t own TikTok but declined to answer other questions.

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Data of 40 million plus exposed in latest T-Mobile breach

NEW YORK (AP) — The names, Social Security numbers and information from driver’s licenses or other identification of just over 40 million people who applied for T-Mobile credit were exposed in a recent data breach, the company said Wednesday. The same data for about 7.8 million current T-Mobile customers who pay for phone service in monthly bills also appears to be compromised. No phone numbers, account numbers, PINs, passwords or financial information from the nearly 50 million records and accounts were compromised, it said. It’s just the latest data breach to hit T-Mobile in recent years but experts say the sheer numbers far exceed the previous breaches.

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Robinhood’s crypto trading surges, as overall growth slows

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NEW YORK (AP) — After helping a new generation of investors get into stocks, Robinhood is increasingly doing the same for cryptocurrencies. More than $4 of every $10 that Robinhood made in revenue during the spring came just from customers trading bitcoin, dogecoin and other cryptocurrencies. Robinhood Markets also said Wednesday that it lost $501.7 million, compared with a profit of $57.6 million in last year’s second quarter. The loss was expected, as was the company’s slowdown in revenue growth. It more than halved to 131% from 309% in the first three months of the year.

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Old Navy integrates its plus-size women’s business

NEW YORK (AP) — Gap’s low-price division Old Navy is overhauling its approach to how it designs and markets to plus-size women. It’s a demographic that many analysts say has been underserved. Starting Friday, Old Navy will be offering every one of its women’s styles in all sizes with no price difference. That means sizes 0-28 in stores and up to size 30 online. The 1,200-store chain will also be displaying its large sizes together with the standard sizes on the floor. Old Navy joins Target, Nordstrom and others, which over the past few years have been adding more plus size offerings and integrating them next to standard sizes.

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US stocks take a late turn lower, marking 2nd straight loss

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks took a late turn lower on Wall Street, ending with their second straight loss. The S&P 500 gave up 1.1% Wednesday, a day after breaking a five-day winning streak. Technology and health care companies had some of the biggest losses. Apple fell 2.6%. Markets didn’t react much to minutes released in the afternoon from the Federal Reserve’s latest policy meeting, which confirmed that Fed policymakers have made no firm decision about when to start unwinding their support measures for the economy. Lowe’s jumped 9.6% after the company reported sales that beat forecasts. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 1.27%.

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Target extends streak even as online sales growth cools

NEW YORK (AP) — Target’s streak of strong results extended into its latest quarter but its skyrocketing online sales growth has come back to earth. The Minneapolis retailer reported Wednesday that sales at its stores that have been open for at least a year rose 8.7% in the three-month period that ended July 31. That was down from 10.9% growth in the same 2020 span. And like Walmart, Target saw a slowdown from last year’s blistering online sales growth as more shoppers came out of their pandemic-forced isolation and went back to stores. The company offered an upbeat sales outlook for the remainder of the year.

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The S&P 500 fell 47.81 points, or 1.1 %, to 4,400.27. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 382.59 points, or 1.1%, to 34,960.69. The Nasdaq slipped 130.27 points, or 0.9%, to 14,525.91. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies dropped 18.39 points, or 0.8%, to 2,158.78.