AP Business SummaryBrief at 12:13 p.m. EDT

US economy returned to growth last quarter, expanding 2.6%

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. economy grew at a 2.6% annual rate from July through September, snapping two straight quarters of contraction and overcoming high inflation and interest rates just as voting begins in midterm elections in which the economy’s health has emerged as a paramount issue. The better-than-expected government estimate showed that the gross domestic product grew in the third quarter after having shrunk in...

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US economy returned to growth last quarter, expanding 2.6%

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. economy grew at a 2.6% annual rate from July through September, snapping two straight quarters of contraction and overcoming high inflation and interest rates just as voting begins in midterm elections in which the economy’s health has emerged as a paramount issue. The better-than-expected government estimate showed that the gross domestic product grew in the third quarter after having shrunk in the first half of 2022. Overall, though, the outlook for the economy has darkened. The Federal Reserve has raised interest rates five times this year and is set to do so again next week and in December. Concern about the likelihood of a recession next year has been growing.

Musk doesn’t seek a “free-for-all hellscape” for Twitter

Elon Musk is telling Twitter advertisers he is buying the platform to “help humanity” and doesn’t want it to become a “free-for-all hellscape” where anything can be said with no consequences. The message to advertisers posted Thursday on Twitter came a day before Musk’s deadline for closing his $44 billion deal to buy the social-media company and take it private. He said in the post that he’s buying the company because “it is important to the future of civilization to have a common digital town square.” The message reflects concerns among advertisers that Musk’s plans for Twitter could render it more toxic and less welcoming for ads.

Europe sees fastest pace of rate hikes since euro launched

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — The European Central Bank has made another outsized interest rate hike aimed at squelching out-of-control inflation, moving at the fastest pace in the euro currency’s history. The hike of three-quarters of a percentage point Thursday underscores the bank’s determination to control prices despite the threat of recession. The ECB has matched its record increase from last month and is joining the U.S. Federal Reserve in making a series of rapid hikes to tackle soaring consumer prices. The ECB has now raised rates for the 19-country euro area by a full 2 percentage points in just three months and expects more hikes ahead.

Europe’s energy crisis raises firewood prices, theft fears

CHISINAU, Moldova (AP) — Europe’s energy crisis is forcing some people to turn to cheaper sources to stay warm as the weather gets colder. After Russia slashed natural gas flows to Europe amid its war against Ukraine, demand for wood is surging in poorer nations like Moldova and Kosovo as well as in the richer nations of Western and central Europe. It’s led to higher prices, growing concerns about theft and even scams. Some German foresters are putting GPS devices into logs to track the valuable stocks and deter theft. There are also environmental risks to burning firewood, from the particles that people breathe to increased felling of trees.

Auto prices finally begin to creep down from inflated highs

DETROIT (AP) — Average prices on new and used vehicles have begun easing from their record highs, and more vehicles have become available at dealerships. The average used vehicle price in September was down 1% from its peak in May. Even so, auto purchases remain unaffordable for many, with average prices still 30% to 50% above where they were when the pandemic erupted in early 2020. The average used auto cost nearly $31,000 last month. The average new? $47,000. With monthly payments on a new vehicle averaging above $700, millions of buyers have been priced out of the new-vehicle market and are now confined to used vehicles.

Stocks gain ground on Wall Street, Facebook parent slumps

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks mostly rose on Wall Street, but major indexes remained unsettled as more big companies report earnings. Meta Platforms lost another one-fifth of its value after reporting a second straight quarter of revenue decline amid falling advertising sales and stiff competition from TikTok. That followed weak earnings reports from Google’s parent company, Alphabet, and Microsoft. Amazon and Apple report later Thursday. The S&P 500 rose 0.3% and the Dow rose 1.4%, but Meta’s slump pulled the Nasdaq down 0.5%. Markets got some encouraging economic news as the government reported the U.S. economy returned to growth last quarter, expanding 2.6%.

Call of Duty’s latest battle is between Microsoft and Sony

Hunting down your enemies on the bustling streets of Amsterdam, along the U.S.-Mexico border or in a Middle Eastern fishing village is just part of the intense action in the latest Call of Duty video game. The Friday release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 continues a nearly two-decade run for California-based Activision Blizzard’s wildly popular military shooting game franchise. New installments of the game can rival Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters . But the battle this time is also happening off-screen as Call of Duty is at the center of a corporate tug-of-war between Microsoft’s Xbox and Sony’s PlayStation over Microsoft’s pending $69 billion purchase of Activision Blizzard.

US mortgage rates top 7% for the first time in 2 decades

WASHINGTON (AP) — Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates topped 7% for the first time in more than two decades this week, a result of the Federal Reserve’s aggressive rate hikes intended to tame inflation not seen in some 40 years. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported Thursday that the average on the key 30-year rate jumped to 7.08% from 6.94% last week. The last time the average rate was above 7% was April 2002, a time when the U.S. was still reeling from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, but six years away from the 2008 housing market collapse that triggered the Great Recession.

Rural areas to get $759M in grants for high-speed internet

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The Agriculture Department has announced $759 million in grants and loans to enable rural communities to access high-speed internet. It’s part of the broader $65 billion push for high-speed connectivity from last year’s infrastructure law. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and White House senior adviser Mitch Landrieu unveiled the grant during a visit to North Carolina. There are 49 recipients in 24 states. Thursday’s announcement and visit to North Carolina come as President Joe Biden and other top Democratic officials try to sell their achievements to voters before the Nov. 8 midterm elections. North Carolina has an open seat for the U.S. Senate.

Nord Stream 1 operator sends ship to survey pipeline damage

BERLIN (AP) — The operator of the Nord Stream 1 natural gas pipeline says a ship that it chartered has arrived at the site of last month’s explosions under the Baltic Sea to survey the damage. Undersea explosions late last month ruptured Nord Stream 1, which until Russia cut off supplies at the end of August was its main supply route to Germany. They also damaged the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which never entered service as Germany suspended its certification process shortly before Russia invaded Ukraine in February. Investigators in Sweden, Denmark and Germany are looking into what happened.

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