Business Highlights

AP News
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Posted: Jul 14, 2016 5:08 PM

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Property owners: Get off my lawn, Pokemon!

As throngs of "Pokemon Go" players traipse around to real-world landmarks in pursuit of digital monsters, some ticked-off property owners are asking to have their locations in the fictional Poke-verse removed.

Besides the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, several churches and cemeteries including Arlington National Cemetery want their in-game locations removed to keep crowds of players away.

The addictive, location-aware smartphone game gives digital incentives like "Pokeballs" as rewards for visiting real places. The locations, known as "Pokestops" and "Gyms," are based on landmarks submitted by players of Niantic's earlier game, "Ingress."

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Investors shrug at longest profit slump since the recession

Not since the Great Recession have corporate profits been on this long of a slump. The response from investors: So what?

Investors are comfortable enough with the yearlong sag that they pushed stock prices to all-time highs this past week. The records were notched just as companies began to report how much they made from April through June, and expectations are largely glum.

Analysts estimate that earnings per share for companies in the Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 5.5 percent last quarter from a year earlier, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence. If the predictions prove true, it would mark the fourth straight quarter where profits fell, the longest run since the Great Recession ended seven years ago.

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US weekly claims for jobless benefits hold steady

The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits was unchanged last week, remaining at the lowest point since mid-April.

The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly benefit applications held steady at 254,000, following a decline of 16,000 in the previous week. It was the lowest point since the number fell to 248,000 for the week of April 16.

Weekly claims, which are a proxy for layoffs, have been below 300,000 for 71 consecutive weeks, the longest stretch since 1973.

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US producer prices rose in June at fastest pace in 13 months

Prices charged by U.S. producers rose in June at the fastest pace in 13 months, reflecting a big jump in the price of gasoline and other energy products.

The Labor Department says that its producer price index, which measures cost pressures before they reach the consumer, increased 0.5 percent in June. That was the largest one-month jump since a similar rise in May 2015.

Energy prices were up 4.1 percent last month while food costs rose 0.9 percent.

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Average US mortgage rates move little; near historic lows

Long-term U.S. mortgage rates moved little this week, remaining near historically low levels in the wake of financial disarray in Europe.

Mortgage giant Freddie Mac says the average for the benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage ticked up to 3.42 percent from 3.41 percent last week, staying close to its all-time low of 3.31 percent in November 2012. The average rate is down sharply from 4.09 percent a year ago.

The 15-year mortgage rate slipped to 2.72 percent from 2.74 percent last week.

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States require insurance companies to locate beneficiaries

Beneficiaries of unclaimed life insurance policies already have received billions of dollars — and others could be in store for some unexpected cash — the result of state actions forcing companies to locate heirs and pay them the money they are owed.

Nearly two dozen states have passed laws requiring companies to search for beneficiaries. Illinois is the latest to consider a version of the legislation.

The laws follow yearslong audits and multi-state investigations of the top 40 insurance companies that revealed many of them held on to benefits, even when they knew the person insured had died.

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CSX sees profits falling through 2016 as volume slows

CSX believes profits will decline for rest of the year as freight volume continues to slow.

The railroad reiterated a dreary outlook for the year and bleak long-term prospects for coal demand Thursday.

CSX said Wednesday that second-quarter profit tumbled 20 percent to $445 million with volume sliding 9 percent. It still beat Wall Street expectations, but that's because it's slashing costs.

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Consumer Reports says Tesla should drop Autopilot name

Consumer Reports magazine is calling on electric car maker Tesla Motors to change the name of its Autopilot semi-autonomous driving system and to disconnect the automatic steering feature after a fatal crash in Florida.

The magazine says in a statement that calling the system Autopilot promotes a dangerous assumption that Teslas can drive themselves. It also says the automatic steering should be disconnected until it's updated to make sure a driver's hands stay on the steering wheel at all times.

In an email, a Tesla spokeswoman said the company has no plans to change the name. The company says Autopilot has been safely used in over 100 million miles of driving by customers and that data shows drivers who use it are safer than those who don't.

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JPMorgan's results beat forecasts as trading revenue jumps

JPMorgan Chase & Co. reported solid second-quarter earnings Thursday as trading revenue jumped. The bank was also able to continue cutting expenses.

In a sign that the U.S. economy continues to improve, JPMorgan noticeably expanded its loan portfolio in the quarter as a response to increasing demand from both consumers and businesses. That's despite the economic headaches from the U.K. vote to leave the European Union and market turmoil earlier in the year.

The nation's largest bank by assets and revenue earned $5.67 billion after payments to preferred shareholders . That's down slightly from a profit of $5.78 billion in the same period a year earlier. On a per share basis, the bank earned $1.55 a share, compared with $1.54 a share a year earlier as the amount of shares outstanding decreased.

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Delta's 2Q profit rises despite a dip in revenue

Delta Air Lines Inc.'s second-quarter profit beat expectations despite lower revenue, and the company plans to limit its growth in a bid to push fares higher.

Lower fuel prices have helped airlines earn big profits. That continued at Delta, which said Thursday that net income for the April-to-June quarter was $1.55 billion, up 4 percent from a year ago.

But airline stocks have fallen this year — Delta's shares began Thursday down 22 percent in 2016 — because investors are skittish about a long slump in revenue per mile.

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EU widens antitrust probe to include Google ad, shopping business

The European Union has opened a new front in its battle with Google, accusing the technology giant of abusing its dominant position in the online search market to benefit its own comparison shopping and advertising business.

The EU's executive branch is already investigating whether Google gives preferential treatment to its own products in its Android operating system.

"Google has come up with many innovative products that have made a difference to our lives," EU Antitrust Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said Thursday. "But that doesn't give Google the right to deny other companies the chance to compete and innovate."

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Bank of England opts against rate cut despite Brexit vote

The Bank of England surprised financial markets by opting against a cut in interest rates on Thursday, despite clear evidence of the initial economic damage caused by the country's vote last month to leave the European Union.

The bank said it was too soon to know the full impact of the Brexit vote — even though the housing market already shows signs of struggling and business confidence has plummeted. However, it did signal that it could cut rates at its meeting in early August after receiving additional data on how the economy is faring in the wake of the June 23 referendum.

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The Dow Jones industrial average rose 134.29 points, or 0.7 percent, to 18,506.41. The S&P 500 gained 11.32 points, or 0.5 percent, to 2,163.75. The Nasdaq composite increased 28.33 points, or 0.6 percent, to 5,034.06.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose 93 cents to close at $45.68 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, a standard for international oil prices, rose $1.11 to close at $47.37 a barrel in London. In other energy trading in New York, wholesale gasoline rose 4 cents to $1.41 a gallon, heating oil rose 3 cents to $1.41 a gallon and natural gas slipped a penny to $2.73 per 1,000 cubic feet.