Business Highlights

AP News
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Posted: Jun 17, 2016 5:30 PM

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Orlando tourism: No mass cancellations now but future unsure

Experts say it's too soon to gauge whether a week of horrific news out of Orlando will hurt tourism there. But travel agents are not seeing widespread cancellations, and many travelers say they're committed to visiting.

Orlando has been rocked in the past week by three events: the mass murder of 49 people in a nightclub, the fatal shooting of singer Christina Grimmie after a concert, and a 2-year-old killed by an alligator at a Disney World resort lagoon. It remains to be seen whether the bad news will shake Orlando's status as the top tourist destination in the U.S., with 66 million visitors in 2015.

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Stocks end week lower as British vote remains focus

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks closed out a difficult week on a modestly lower note Friday, as investors continued to monitor Britain's frenzied debate on whether to leave the European Union. The debate took on a new level of concern after the killing of a member of parliament.

Anxiety over the British referendum coming up next Thursday continued to dominate trading. Stocks have fallen six out of the past seven trading days. This week the Dow and S&P 500 each lost 1 percent while the Nasdaq gave up almost 2 percent.

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US home construction down slightly in May

WASHINGTON (AP) — Construction of new homes nudged down slightly in May, with builders pulling back in the Northeast and Midwest.

Housing starts ticked down 0.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.16 million units, the Commerce Department said Friday. The government's residential construction report can be volatile on a monthly basis, which might explain the slight decrease.

Home construction has improved much of this year, with single-family houses accounting for much of the gains unlike recent years when developers focused more on apartments.

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Viacom CEO's tenure may be up soon after board shake-up

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman may not have much time left at the entertainment conglomerate.

National Amusements, the theater company through which Sumner Redstone controls both Viacom and CBS, said Thursday that it has replaced Dauman and four other directors on Viacom's 11-member board.

The shake-up comes as lawyers battle over whether Redstone, 93, is mentally competent to run the multibillion-dollar New York-based media companies Viacom Inc. and CBS Corp.

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US investigation of Lumber Liquidators comes to a close

NEW YORK (AP) — Federal regulators have closed an investigation of Lumber Liquidators after the company agreed not to resume sales of Chinese-made laminate flooring.

The company stopped selling the Chinese-made laminate flooring last year, a couple of months after a news report on "60 Minutes" said it contained high levels of the carcinogen formaldehyde.

The U.S. Consumer Production Safety Commission said late Thursday that Lumber Liquidators tested the air quality in 17,000 households and none had formaldehyde above guidelines. Customers who installed the Chinese-made flooring should not rip it out, the CPSC said. Instead, they can call Lumber Liquidators to have their air tested.

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1,200-foot amusement ride proposed for NY's Penn Station

NEW YORK (AP) — Catching a train at New York's crowded Penn Station is no thrill. But a development team has proposed a novel plan to overhaul the station: Build a 1,200-foot thrill ride on top of it and pay for renovations by charging $35 a ticket.

The plan submitted to state officials envisions a transparent tower with 11 gondolas offering free-fall rides of varying speeds.

John Gerber, chairman of Brooklyn Capital Partners, said the ride is feasible from an engineering standpoint, but he acknowledged that government agencies and New Yorkers might not embrace the idea.

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Patent dispute could block Apple's iPhone 6 sales in Beijing

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Apple is embroiled in a patent dispute in China that threatens to block future sales of the iPhone 6 in Beijing unless the company can overturn a regulator's recent ruling.

The potential ban stems from a decision issued last month by the Beijing Intellectual Property Office. The agency found the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus infringed on a patent for the exterior design of a smartphone called the 100C made by a Chinese company, Shenzhen Baili.

Apple Inc. is still being allowed to sell both of the affected iPhone models while it appeals the ruling to an intellectual property court in China.

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Putin calls on Europe to improve ties despite sanctions

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin called on European leaders Friday to heal ties with his country despite sanctions after meeting with European investors who said they want to expand their businesses there.

Speaking at Russia's top economic conference, Putin said top German and French investors expressed interest to invest more in Russia despite the weight of the sanctions, some of which the European Union extended just as Putin was speaking.

He stressed that Russia's ban on EU foodstuffs and other retaliatory measures were imposed "in response" to the EU sanctions.

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The Dow Jones industrial average fell 57.94 points, or 0.3 percent, to 17,675.16. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 6.77 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,071.22. The Nasdaq composite fell 44.58 points, or 0.9 percent, to 4,800.34.

Benchmark U.S. crude added $1.77 to close at $47.98 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained $1.98 to close at $49.17 a barrel in London. In other energy commodities, heating oil rose 6 cents to $1.48 a gallon, wholesale gasoline rose 4 cents to $1.51 a gallon and natural gas rose 4 cents to $2.62 per 1,000 cubic feet.