Business Highlights

AP News
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Posted: Jun 21, 2016 5:31 PM

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Yellen says uncertainties justify cautious approach

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen says the U.S. economy faces a number of uncertainties that require the Fed to proceed cautiously in raising interest rates.

In delivering the Fed's twice-a-year economic report to Congress, Yellen cited a slowdown in job growth and said the Fed will be watching carefully to see whether the weaker momentum is temporary or a sign of a bigger problem.

Yellen also expressed concerns about the global economy, weak productivity growth in the U.S. and persistently low inflation.

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Boeing says it signs historic sales agreement with Iran Air

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Boeing Co. said Tuesday it signed an agreement with Iran Air "expressing the airline's intent" to buy its aircraft, setting up the biggest business deal between the Islamic Republic and America since the 1979 U.S. Embassy takeover in Tehran.

However, the long-standing enmity between the U.S. and Iran, as well as other sanctions and even presidential politics still could complicate any agreement.

Boeing issued a statement to The Associated Press saying that it signed the Iran Air agreement "under authorizations from the U.S. government following a determination that Iran had met its obligations under the nuclear accord reached last summer."

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US stocks rise as Yellen takes careful tone before Congress

U.S. stocks rose Tuesday as investors were relieved to hear Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen say the Fed would remain cautious in raising interest rates.

Stocks hardly budged for most of the day as investors were occupied by Yellen's Congressional appearance and the looming vote on Britain's possible withdrawal from the European Union.

Energy and phone companies made the biggest gains. For the second day in a row, stocks traded higher and bond prices fell as investors felt a bit surer that Britain will stay in the EU.

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Puerto Rico hit with lawsuit as key debt negotiations stall

A group of bondholders on Tuesday sued Puerto Rico's government as debt negotiations fell apart less than two weeks ahead of what would be the largest default in the island's history.

The suit filed in New York by holders of general obligation bonds seeks to invalidate a debt moratorium and fiscal emergency law passed in early April as the island struggles to restructure $70 billion in public debt.

While Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla has not yet implemented a temporary debt moratorium, many speculate he will soon because Puerto Rico is expected to default on a payment of nearly $2 billion on July 1.

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White House clears small, commercial drones for takeoff

WASHINGTON (AP) — The routine use of small drones by real estate agents, farmers, filmmakers and other commercial operators was cleared for takeoff by the Obama administration Tuesday, after years of struggling to write rules that would both protect public safety and free the benefits of a new technology.

The Federal Aviation Administration announced the creation of a new category of aviation rules designed specifically for drones weighing less than 55 pounds. The long-anticipated rules mean commercial operators can fly drones without special permission.

Industry and government officials describe commercial drones as the biggest game-changing technology in aviation since the advent of the jet engine.

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Suit accusing Starbucks of under-filling lattes can proceed

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A federal judge is allowing the bulk of a lawsuit accusing Starbucks of systematically under-filling lattes to move forward.

Two California residents are suing the coffee chain, claiming Starbucks lattes are only filled to about 75 percent of the cup's capacity. A federal judge has thrown out three of the eight claims filed against Starbucks.

Starbucks says the company believes the lawsuit is "without merit" and it will be prepared to defend itself in court.

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End of California nuclear era: Last plant to close by 2025

California's last nuclear power plant will close by 2025 under an accord announced Tuesday, ending three decades of safety debates that helped fuel the national anti-nuclear power movement.

The state's largest utility, Pacific Gas & Electric Co., and environmental groups reached an agreement to replace production at Diablo Canyon nuclear plant with solar power and other energy sources that do not produce climate-changing greenhouse gases.

The facility, which sits along a bluff on California's central coast, supplies 9 percent of the state's power.

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Lennar ramps up construction, prices in 2Q

MIAMI (AP) — Lennar delivered more homes and at higher prices during its second quarter, exceeding expectations that Wall Street had for the nation's second-largest homebuilder.

The company had a 10 percent jump in new orders over the three-month period that is crucial in the housing industry, CEO Stuart Miller said in a company statement Tuesday.

The slow and steady recovery of the housing market is being sustained by low interest rates, modest wage growth, consumer confidence, low unemployment and tight housing inventory levels, Miller said.

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Pregnant woman, Mrs. Claus among 72 new emojis

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (AP) — A face representing "rolling on the floor laughing" and a hand taking a selfie are among 72 new emojis that will soon make their way to your smartphone.

The California-based Unicode Consortium, which controls emoji standards, has released a list of the new characters. Other highlights include emojis representing a pregnant woman and Mrs. Claus.

One proposed emoji that didn't make the cut is that of a rifle. The weapon was proposed as part of a group of emojis representing Olympic sports ahead of the upcoming Games. Buzzfeed News reports that both Apple and Microsoft argued against including the rifle.

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UK's Cameron, soccer star David Beckham urge pro-EU vote

LONDON (AP) — From the prime minister to sports and pop icons David and Victoria Beckham, supporters of Britain staying in the European Union urged voters Tuesday to think about future generations when they cast ballots in a referendum that has divided the nation.

Prime Minister David Cameron appealed directly to EU-wary older voters, saying that leaving the bloc would risk the country's economic security — and younger generations would have to live with the consequences.

The plea came as the already heated campaign moved into its tense final days.

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The Dow Jones industrial average picked up 24.86 points, or 0.1 percent, to 17,829.73. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 5.65 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,088.90. The Nasdaq composite added 6.55 points, or 0.1 percent, to 4,843.76.

Benchmark U.S. crude fell 52 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $48.85 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the benchmark for international oil prices, slipped 3 cents to $50.62 a barrel in London. In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline rose 1 cent to $1.59 a gallon. Heating oil slipped 1 cent to $1.52 a gallon. Natural gas rose 2 cents to $2.77 per 1,000 cubic feet.