Update on the latest business


Stocks climb

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are broadly higher on Wall Street as investors try to shake off several days of volatile trading brought on by escalations in the U.S.-China trade war.

Investors snapped up technology stocks in a signal that they are more willing to take on risk after several days of fleeing to safer holdings, such as bonds. Microsoft rose 1.6% and Oracle rose 1.9%.


Banks led financial stocks higher as bond yields gained ground following a sharp decline on Wednesday. The sector also got a key boost from American International Group after the insurer reported solid second quarter financial results.

Travel website company Booking Holdings rose 7.3% and lifted consumer-oriented stocks.

In another sign that investors were feeling more bullish, safe-play sectors like utilities and makers of consumer products lagged the market. Investors usually shun those sectors when they want to take on more risk.

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 1.76% from 1.72% late Wednesday. The yield rose after a weekly government report on unemployment claims came in better than economists had expected.


US long-term mortgage rates fall sharply: 30-year at 3.60%

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. long-term mortgage rates have fallen sharply this week, with the benchmark 30-year loan touching its lowest level since November 2016.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the average rate on the 30-year mortgage dropped to 3.60% from 3.75% last week. A year ago the rate stood at 4.59%.

The average rate for 15-year, fixed-rate home loans tumbled to 3.05% from 3.20%.

Financial markets around the globe have been whipsawed by anxiety over the U.S.-China trade war, sending investors fleeing from stocks to the safety of bonds and pushing bond interest-rates to record lows.


China lowers yuan’s trading range but currency stabilizes

BEIJING (AP) — China has lowered the trading range for its currency again, showing its potential for use as a trade weapon against Washington, but the exchange rate steadied following declines that alarmed financial markets.

The central bank on Thursday set the starting point for the yuan’s daily trading at 7.0039 to the U.S. dollar — the first time since 2008 that the level was set below the politically sensitive level of seven to the dollar.

The yuan was trading at 7.0435 in mid-afternoon, but that was stronger than the previous day’s level.

Beijing alarmed investors Monday by allowing the yuan to fall to an 11-year low against the dollar.

The central bank has assured companies it will not permit sharp declines to continue and the exchange rate will be kept stable.


Trump calls on Fed to make ‘substantial’ rate cuts

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is not letting up on his attacks on the Federal Reserve, calling for “substantial” Fed rate cuts to allow the dollar to fall in value against foreign currencies.

In a series of tweets Thursday, Trump says, “As your president, one would think that I would be thrilled with our very strong dollar. I am not!”

Trump says that the Fed’s high level of interest rates in comparison to other countries was keeping the dollar too strong and making it more difficult for U.S. manufacturers to compete.

The Fed reduced its key policy rate by a quarter-point last week, but Trump is pushing for more interest rate cuts. Those cuts can lower the dollar’s value against other currencies, although other factors are also at play.


Dozens released after massive Mississippi immigration raids

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Dozens of immigrant workers have been released a day after being detained in the largest immigration raid in a decade in the United States.

Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officials say 680 people were arrested in Wednesday’s raids.

But immigration lawyers say that by Thursday morning, about five busloads of people had been released.

The terms of the workers’ releases were unclear. It also was unclear whether any of those released were determined to be living in the country legally. ICE officials did not return telephone calls Thursday morning.

Officials had said Wednesday that they would release detainees who met certain conditions, such as pregnant women or those who hadn’t faced immigration proceedings previously.

Karla Vazquez-Elmore is a lawyer representing arrested workers. She said even those not arrested are terrified.


New UN warming report sees hungry future that can be avoided

WASHINGTON (AP) — A new United Nations scientific report says climate change is hitting us where it counts: the stomach — not to mention the forests, plants and animals.

The report examines how global warming and land interact in a vicious cycle. Human-caused climate change is dramatically degrading the land, while the way people use the land is making global warming worse.

Thursday’s science-laden report says the combination is already making food more expensive, scarcer and even less nutritious.

But scientists say if people change the way they eat, grow food and manage forests, it could help save the planet from a far warmer future.

Earth’s land masses, which are only 30% of the globe, are warming twice as fast as the planet as a whole.


Airline industry says demand up 5% in June compared to 2018

BERLIN (AP) — The International Air Transport Association says passenger traffic grew by a “solid” 5% in June compared with the same month last year, despite the impact of U.S.-China trade tensions.

The airline industry group said Thursday that June also saw a record load factor, a gauge of the percentage of seats filled per flight, for the month of 84.4%.

The lowest passenger growth was seen in North America, where carriers recorded increased demand of 3.5%. Geneva-based IATA said the modest increase reflects U.S.-China trade tensions, which have also affected air travel in Asia.

Airline traffic has been rising steadily in recent years, fueling calls for measures to curb its growing share of global greenhouse gas emissions.


California man pleads guilty in Florida to $1.3B fraud scam

MIAMI (AP) — A California man has pleaded guilty in Florida to orchestrating a $1.3 billion fraud scheme that stole money from thousands of investors nationwide.

Court records show 61-year-old Robert Shapiro pleaded guilty Wednesday in Miami to mail and wire fraud and tax evasion. He faces up to 25 years in prison at sentencing in October.

Federal prosecutors say Shapiro’s Woodbridge Group had offices in California, Florida, Tennessee, Colorado and Connecticut. The pitch to investors was that Woodbridge held real estate loans paying them high levels of interest.

In fact, the real estate was also owned by Shapiro and, sometimes, didn’t exist. It was a Ponzi scheme that paid older investors with money from newer ones.

Prosecutors say Shapiro will forfeit jewelry, paintings by artists such as Picasso and Renoir and other assets.


Germany charges ex-Deutsche Bank employee in vast tax scam

BERLIN (AP) — German prosecutors have indicted a 48-year-old former employee of Deutsche Bank as part of a probe into a massive tax evasion scam that’s already seen 13 people sentenced to up to eight years imprisonment.

Prosecutors in Frankfurt said Thursday that the suspect, an Austrian citizen, was part of a group that traded carbon emissions certificates and claimed refunds on taxes they’d never paid.

They allegedly stole about 145 million euros ($162 million) before the scam was discovered in 2010.

German news agency dpa reported that Deutsche Bank has repaid the sum. The bank itself has never been charged because companies can’t be held criminally responsible under German law.

The suspect, whose name wasn’t released, allegedly used his senior position to quell suspicions among other staff at Deutsche Bank’s London office.


Billionaire: Epstein misappropriated ‘vast sums’ from wealth

NEW YORK (AP) — The retail titan behind Victoria’s Secret says the financier Jeffrey Epstein misappropriated “vast sums” of his fortune while managing his personal finances.

Ohio billionaire Leslie Wexner said in a letter Wednesday that he recovered “some of the funds” but severed ties with Epstein in 2007 as sexual abuse allegations first surfaced against him in Florida.

The letter was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

Epstein managed Wexner’s wealth for years. It was through Wexner that Epstein acquired his seven-story Manhattan mansion near Central Park.

Wexner says he regrets ever crossing Epstein’s path and was “sickened” by his alleged abuse of dozens of underage girls.

Epstein has pleaded not guilty to federal sex trafficking charges in New York.

His lawyer did not respond to a request for comment.


After deadly wrecks, Atlanta bans electric scooters at night

ATLANTA (AP) — Atlanta is banning electric scooters in the nighttime hours during what’s been a deadly summer for riders.

The ban comes as cities across the nation struggle to regulate the companies renting the devices and keep riders safe.

In Atlanta, three riders have died since May in crashes that involved a public bus, an SUV and a car. Police in the Atlanta suburb of East Point say a fourth rider was killed there Tuesday in a collision involving his scooter and a truck.

City officials on Thursday announced a ban on electric scooters and electric bikes from 9 p.m. until 4 a.m. daily. The ban takes effect Friday.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms says city officials have asked e-scooter vendors to disable the devices during the hours they’re banned.

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