Update on the latest in business:

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Wall Street lower as retail sales post steep drop in July

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks fell in morning trading as data showed the coronavirus pandemic is still holding back the U.S. economy.

The S&P 500 index fell 0.7%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.8% and the Nasdaq composite fell 1%.

Shares of Home Depot fell more than 4% after the company told investors that sales were slowing compared to last year, when locked-down Americans undertook home improvement projects.

RETAIL SALES

Americans spent less in July as COVID-19 cases surged

NEW YORK (AP) — Americans cut back on their spending last month as a surge in COVID-19 cases kept people away from stores.

The Commerce Department says retail sales fell a seasonal adjusted 1.1% in July from the month before. It was a much larger drop than the 0.3% decline Wall Street analysts had expected.

The report is the first glimpse into whether a surge in COVID-19 cases in July has kept people from heading out to shop. According to Tuesday’s report, spending fell at stores that sell clothing, furniture and sporting goods.

INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION

US factory production rebounds at fastest pace in 4 months

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. factory production in July posted the strongest gain in 4 months, reflecting a surge in production at auto plants that are still confronting major supply chain problems.

The Federal Reserve reports that manufacturing output increased 1.4% in July following a decline of 0.3% in June. It was the best showing for factory output since a 3.4% gain in March.

Overall, industrial production — which includes manufacturing, utilities and mining — posted a 0.9% increase, the best performance since a 2.8% surge in March.

WALMART-RESULTS

Walmart boosts outlook as back-to-school sales return

NEW YORK (AP) — Walmart is raising its outlook for the year as Americans returned to shopping for back-to-school clothes and travel goods during the fiscal second quarter. Still, concerns are mounting over spending in the months ahead as the delta variant of COVID-19 surges across the U.S. and mask mandates are reinstated.

Walmart reported earnings of $4.27 billion, or $1.52 per share, during the three-month period ended July 31. That is a nickel better per share than Wall Street had expected, according to a survey by FactSet. Net profit last year was $6.47 billion, or $1.77 adjusted per share.

HOME DEPOT-RESULTS

Home Depot sales climb again, but DIY frenzy may be cooling

UNDATED (AP) — Home Depot’s sales continued to surge, though same-store sales appeared to come back to earth after a year in which the home improvement chain outperformed expectations repeatedly.

For the three months ended August 1, sales climbed to $41.12 billion from $38.05 billion. Chairman and CEO Craig Menear said in a statement that this was the first time in its history that the chain surpassed sales of more than $40 billion in a quarter.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-NEW YORK

NYC begins requiring proof of vaccination at eateries, gyms

NEW YORK (AP) — New York City is asking restaurants, gyms, museums and many other indoor venues to have patrons show proof of vaccination against COVID-19. The new rules are part of the city’s latest campaign to control a pandemic that had crippled the city’s economy.

The rapid spread of the delta variant has caused infections and hospitalizations to soar in recent weeks and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio hopes the new rules will persuade more people to get vaccinated. If not, the mayor says they risk being shut out from partaking of much of the city’s amenities, including restaurants, bars, gyms, public performances, museums and other cultural venues.

BRITAIN-ECONOMY

Staff wanted: Job vacancies in Britain hit record high

LONDON (AP) — Job vacancies in the U.K. have spiked to their highest recorded level, in a further sign that the British economy is rebounding by more than anticipated following the lifting of coronavirus restrictions.

The Office for National Statistics revealed today that the number of job vacancies rose by 290,000 between May and July from the previous three-month period, to 953,000. That’s the highest level since records were started in 2001.

It also found wage pressures are building — a development that financial markets suggest will lead the Bank of England to raise interest rates sooner than previously thought as it could further fuel inflation.

OPIOID CRISIS-PURDUE BANKRUTPCY

Heir: Sacklers won’t settle unless freed from opioid suits

UNDATED (AP) — A member of the family that owns Purdue Pharma has told a court that the family will not contribute billions to abate the U.S. opioid crisis unless it is granted protection from current and future lawsuits.

David Sackler made a rare public appearance today, as he testified at a bankruptcy court hearing over the company’s restructuring plan. The deal would require family members to contribute more than $4 billion and give up ownership of the Connecticut-based company.

The legal protections the family would get are at the heart of objections to the deal from nine states and activists.

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