Update on the latest in business:

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Stocks drift as rally takes a pause

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are drifting between small gains and losses Tuesday as Wall Street’s big rally over the last couple months lets off the accelerator.

The S&P 500 was 0.2% higher in midday trading after erasing an earlier loss of 0.2%. Roughly three out of five stocks in the index were rising following mixed earnings reports.

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Stock indexes are hanging close to their record highs after erasing most or all of their sell-off from earlier in the year. But caution is still very prevalent across other markets. Treasury yields were falling, while gold was rising as investors sought safety.

EUROPE-GOOGLE-FITBIT

EU investigating Google’s plan to buy Fitbit

LONDON (AP) — European Union regulators have opened an in-depth investigation into U.S. tech giant Google’s plan to buy fitness tracking device maker Fitbit.

The EU’s executive commission said Tuesday it’s concerned the deal would entrench Google’s position in the online ad market by “increasing the already vast amount of data” the company could use to personalize ads. Google agreed to buy Fitbit in November for $2.1 billion. Australia’s competition watchdog also is examining the transaction.

The European Union’s competition commissioner says the investigation aims to ensure that Google’s control over data collected through wearable devices “does not distort competition.” To allay the apprehension, Google said it said it would not use Fitbit data for Google ads.

FORD-NEW CEO

Ford CEO Hackett to retire, COO Jim Farley to lead automaker

DETROIT (AP) — Ford Chief Operating Officer Jim Farley will lead the storied automaker into the future starting Oct. 1 when current CEO Jim Hackett retires.

The company has struggled in recent years and is in the midst of an $11 billion restructuring plan designed to make it leaner and crank out new vehicles to replace what was an aging model lineup.

As COO, the 58-year-old Farley led the company’s global markets and product development. He was in charge as Ford rolled out a revamped F-150 pickup, the new Bronco off-road SUV brand and the electric Mustang Mach-E SUV.

Farley was was hired away from Toyota by then-CEO Alan Mulally in November of 2007 to run Ford’s marketing operations.

BOOKING.COM LAYOFFS

Booking.com cuts workforce by thousands as travel atrophies

UNDATED (AP) — Hotel and home-sharing reservation site Booking.com plans to lay off 25% of its workforce — or more than 4,000 people — due to the impact of the new coronavirus on travel.

Connecticut-based parent company Booking Holdings said Tuesday that the layoffs will begin next month.

Booking Holdings also owns the restaurant reservation company OpenTable and the discount booking site Priceline.com. Booking.com lets travelers make reservations at 2.6 million hotels and homes.

The company said the number of room nights booked plunged 43% in the first quarter and were expected to drop even further between April and June.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-BACK TO SCHOOL SHOPPING

COVID-19 reshapes and reduces back-to-school spending

NEW YORK (AP) — As the pandemic drags into the new school year, it is upending the back-to-school shopping season. That’s the second most important period for retailers behind the holidays.

Parents are buying less dressy clothing and more basics for their kids, while stepping up purchases of masks and other protective equipment as well as electronics. They’re also holding back on spending amid uncertainty about what the school year will look like.

The National Retail Federation is pinning its hopes on parents who splurge on pricey items like computers to help children learn from home. But others foresee a weak season for retailers.

JAPAN-EARNS-SONY

Sony profits up as people staying home play video games

TOKYO (AP) — Japanese electronics and entertainment company Sony Corp. has reported its April-June profit jumped 53% as its video game and other online businesses thrived with people staying home amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Tokyo-based Sony said Tuesday that its profit was $2.2 billion in the last quarter. Quarterly sales edged up 2%.

Sony has music and movies divisions under its wing and makes digital cameras, TVs and PlayStation 4 consoles, among other devices.

Sony warned that its movies division would likely suffer for two or three years due to delays in film projects and limits to theater seating because of the pandemic.

HONDA RECALLS

Honda recalls 1.6M vans and SUVs in 4 different US recalls

DETROIT (AP) — Honda is recalling over 1.6 million minivans and SUVs in the U.S. to fix problems that include faulty backup camera displays, malfunctioning dashboard lights and sliding doors that don’t latch properly.

The problems were revealed in four recalls posted Tuesday by the government. They cover certain Odyssey minivans from 2018 to 2020, Pilot SUVs from 2019 through 2021 and Passport SUVs from 2019 and 2020.

Honda has traced the problems to faulty backup camera software programming, water entering door handles, water getting into camera mounting holes, and defective instrument panel software. Dealers will fix the problems at no cost to owners.

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