Update on the latest in business:

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Stocks waver

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks have been wavering between small gains and losses in afternoon trading as the market looks to close out August solidly in the green. The S&P 500 was flat and the Nasdaq rose less than 0.1%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell less than 0.1%.

Smaller company stocks were faring better than the broader market. The benchmark S&P 500 is on track for its seventh straight monthly gain, which would be the longest such streak since early 2018.

Investors’ eyes will be turning to key economic data later this week, when the Labor Department releases its August jobs report on Friday.

CONSUMER CONFIDENCE

US consumer confidence falls in August to 6-month low

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. consumer confidence fell in August to the lowest level since February amid rising concerns about the rapidly spreading delta variant of the coronavirus and worries about higher inflation.

The Conference Board reports that its consumer confidence index dropped to a reading of 113.8 in August, down from a revised 125.1 in July. The Conference Board said that concerns about the resurgence in COVID cases as well as worries about rising gas and food prices had contributed to the drop.

HOME PRICES

US home prices soar at record pace in June

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. home prices jumped by a record amount in June as homebuyers competed for a limited supply of available houses, the latest evidence that the housing market remains red-hot.

The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-city home price index jumped 19.1% in June compared with a year earlier, the largest increase on records dating back to 2000. The annual price gains in June were higher in all 20 cities than they were in May.

Prices are now at record highs in 19 of the 20 cities, with the exception of Chicago.

TROPICAL WEATHER-ECONOMIC IMPACT

Some energy facilities in Gulf gradually inch back to life

UNDATED (AP) — Oil companies began gradually to restart some of their refineries in Louisiana, and key fuel pipelines fully reopened, providing hopeful signs that the region’s crucial energy industry can soon recover from the blow of Hurricane Ida.

Exxon Mobil said its Hoover platform in the Gulf of Mexico suffered no storm damage, and crews were starting to resume normal operations. And the company said its fuel terminal in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, restarted operations.

And in a dose of good news for motorists on the East Coast, Colonial Pipeline said it restored flows to two pipelines that run from Houston to Greensboro, North Carolina, after crews had inspected the facilities.

BIDEN-CLIMATE CHANGE-INSURANCE

Biden looking at climate change risks to financial markets

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden’s administration is taking an initial step to assess how climate change could harm financial markets. It’s planning to launch a 75-day comment period on how the impacts could reshape the insurance sector.

Insurers face payouts from wildfires and flooding risks that could cause premiums to rise for many Americans. Insurers are also among the largest investors in U.S. financial markets, with $4.7 trillion in assets as of the end of last year. That’s according to the Treasury Department notice being posted in the Federal Register.

WALGREENS-WAGE HIKE

Walgreens joins other retailers with starting pay boost

UNDATED (AP) — Walgreens will hike starting pay to $15 an hour beginning in October, as employers across the United States continue boosting wages to attract workers.

The drugstore chain says the wage hike will take effect in phases and be completed by November 2022. It will affect workers in the U.S., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, where the company has about 190,000 hourly employees and 9,100 store locations. Spokesman Phil Caruso says around half of those employees already earn at least $15 an hour.

Starting wages vary according to market but are currently not less than $10 per hour.

RIGHT WHALE PROTECTION

Lobster fishing will face restrictions to try to save whales

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — America’s lobster fishing industry will face a host of new harvesting restrictions amid a new push from the federal government to try to save a vanishing species of whale.

The prospect of new rules has loomed over the profitable lobster industry for years and were announced Tuesday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. They are designed to protect the North Atlantic right whale. The whales number only about 360 and they are vulnerable to lethal entanglement in fishing gear.

NEW CAR QUALITY

Survey: Owners frustrated when linking phones to vehicles

DETROIT (AP) — A large U.S. survey of new-vehicle owners found that automobile quality rose last year, but glitches in pairing smartphones with infotainment systems frustrated owners more than anything.

The annual survey by J.D. Power found that the Ram truck brand had the fewest problems per 100 vehicles. Another Stellantis brand, Dodge, finished second. Lexus, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Kia, Genesis, Hyundai, Jeep and Chevrolet rounded out the top 10.

Smartphone connections, mainly linking Android Auto and Apple CarPlay to automobiles, were this year’s top problem. It beat voice recognition as the survey’s No. 1 gremlin for the first time since 2011.

CHINA-MANUFACTURING

China’s manufacturing sector slows as export demand weakens

BEIJING (AP) — A survey shows China’s factory activity decelerated in August as export demand weakened.

The numbers released today showed that the monthly purchasing managers’ index of the Chinese statistics bureau and an official industry group declined to 50.1 from July’s 50.4 on a 100-point scale on which numbers above 50 show activity increasing. A sub-measure of new exports fell by a full point from the previous month to 46.7.

Officials have warned demand for Chinese exports was likely to weaken in the second half of the year. Factory and consumer activity have been dampened by flooding in July and tighter anti-coronavirus controls.

J&J-HIV-VACCINE STUDY

J&J: Potential HIV vaccine falls short in mid-stage study

UNDATED (AP) — Johnson & Johnson says its potential HIV vaccine did not provide protection against the virus in a study of young women in sub-Saharan Africa.

J&J plans to end that study. But researchers will continue a separate, late-stage trial involving a different composition of the vaccine in men and transgender people.

The study in sub-Saharan Africa involved about 2,600 women who were deemed to be at high risk of acquiring HIV, which causes AIDS. Participants were randomly selected to receive either the vaccine or a placebo, and researchers found that the vaccine was only 25% effective at preventing HIV.

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