Update on the latest in business:


Stocks mostly lower but tech sector keeps rising

NEW YORK (AP) — Most of Wall Street is pulling lower, but the relentless rise for big tech stocks is helping the market trim its losses. The S&P 500 was down 0.5% in early afternoon trading, with nearly three quarters of the stocks in the index lower. Among the hardest-hit were banks, oil producers and other companies that most need the economy to pull out of its recession. Stronger-than-expected profit reports from several companies helped offset some of the losses. So did steadying prices for Amazon and other big tech-oriented stocks that are set to report their own results after Thursday’s trading ends.


Record economic plunge, bleak jobs numbers reveal virus toll

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. economy plunged by a record-shattering 32.9% annual rate last quarter, and the coronavirus is still cutting a path of destruction, forcing millions out of work and shuttering businesses. The economy’s stunning contraction in the April-June quarter came as the viral outbreak pushed already struggling businesses to close for a second time in many parts of the country, sending unemployment surging to nearly 15%. The government’s estimate Thursday of the second-quarter fall in the gross domestic product was the sharpest such drop on records dating to 1947. So dizzying was the fall that most analysts expect the economy to sharply bounce back this quarter. Yet with coronavirus cases surging in many states, the economy could worsen in the months ahead.


Government revisions show slightly slower 2019 GDP growth

WASHINGTON (AP) — The government says the U.S economy grew a little more slowly last year than previously reported and a little faster in 2018 but over the past five years all the changes balanced each other out. The Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis said Thursday that the gross domestic product, the total output of goods and services, grew 2.2% last year, down slightly from the 2.3% gain which had been previously reported. For 2018, GDP growth was revised up to 3%, slightly above the 2.9% gain that had been reported. That revision means that President Donald Trump did achieve the goal of 3% growth in 2018, helped by a big boost from his December 2017 tax cut.


Average mortgage rates decline; 30-year at 2.99%

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. average rates on long-term mortgages declined this week, remaining near historic lows as the key 30-year loan slipped back below 3%. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported Thursday that the average rate on the 30-year home loan eased to 2.99% from 3.01% last week. The benchmark rate hasn’t fallen below the 3% mark for 50 years. By contrast, the rate averaged 3.75% a year ago. The average rate on the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to 2.51% from 2.54% last week.


1.4 million seek jobless aid as virus surges in South, West

WASHINGTON (AP) — More than 1.4 million laid-off Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, further evidence of the devastation the coronavirus outbreak has unleashed on the U.S. economy. The continuing wave of job cuts is occurring against the backdrop of a spike in virus cases that has led many states to halt plans to reopen businesses and has caused millions of consumers to delay any return to traveling, shopping and other normal economic activity. Those trends have forced many businesses to cut jobs or at least delay hiring.


Stakes rise for virus talks as jobless aid lapses, GDP drops

WASHINGTON (AP) — Frustrated congressional negotiators of a massive coronavirus relief bill are facing new pressure with Thursday’s brutal economic news and the approaching lapse in a $600 per-week COVID-19 jobless benefit. But talks are at a standstill with few reasons for immediate optimism despite sweeping agreement among Washington’s top power players that further relief must pass Congress. Stark differences remain between the $3 trillion proposal from Democrats and $1 trillion counter from Republicans. Thursday’s economic news — that the economy my shrank at a 33% annualized rate in the second quarter of the year — is a stark reminder of the economic damage afflicting the country as lawmakers debate the size and scope of new relief.


Tyson Foods to increase virus testing in US meat plants

UNDATED (AP) — Tyson Foods says it plans to administer thousands of coronavirus tests per week at its U.S. facilities under an expanded effort to protect its workers. The Arkansas-based company will randomly test employees who have no symptoms, as well as those with symptoms. The tests are on top of daily screenings when workers arrive at Tyson’s 140 U.S. production facilities. Meatpacking plants have been particularly susceptible to the coronavirus because of their often crowded conditions. The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, which represents many of Tyson’s 120,000 U.S. workers, says other meat processing companies should follow Tyson’s lead.


Record surge in daily shipping volumes for UPS in 2Q

UNDATED (AP) — The pandemic-fueled boom in online shopping shows no signs of slowing down, providing more business for delivery companies like United Parcel Service Inc. UPS reported a second-quarter profit of $1.77 billion with the pandemic fueling a 21% surge in daily shipping volume, the largest quarterly increase ever recorded by the company. The daily volume of goods shipped to homes, items that last year might have been purchased in stores, soared 65%. On a per-share basis, the Atlanta company on Thursday reported net income of $2.03. Earnings, adjusted for non-recurring costs, came to $2.13 per share. That is $1.09 better than Wall Street had expected.


Pandemic hits Comcast 2Q; Peacock service has 10M sign-ups

NEW YORK (AP) — The coronavirus pandemic took a toll on Comcast in the second quarter as movie theaters closed, theme parks shut down and advertisers cut back. The company reported today that its NBCUniversal TV, film and theme park divisions, as well as its Sky unit in Europe, all suffered steep drops in revenue in the April-through-June quarter. But it wasn’t all grim news. The Philadelphia-based company added U.S. internet customers and 10 million people have signed up for its new Peacock streaming service since April. Overall, Comcast’s profit fell 4.4% to $2.99 billion, while revenue slid 12% to $23.72 billion.


Huawei overtakes Samsung as top smartphone seller: report

LONDON (AP) — A technology research firm says Huawei (WAH’-way) has overtaken Samsung to become the world’s biggest smartphone seller, as its home market in China emerged from the coronavirus pandemic better off than other economies. Analysts at Canalys say Huawei shipped 55.8 million devices in the second quarter of 2020. While the figure was down 5% compared with a year ago, it was a smaller decline than rival Samsung, which saw smartphone sales slide 30% to 53.7 million. Huawei still faces U.S. government sanctions restricting its international business, but it has come to dominate the domestic market.


AstraZeneca: won’t profit from COVID-19 vaccine in pandemic

LONDON (AP) — Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca has repeated its promise not to profit from a COVID-19 vaccine during the pandemic as it reported it was on track with late-stage trials for the treatment. Such promises were boosted by strong sales across its range of treatments during lockdown. Sales jumped by 14% to $12.6 billion in the first six months of 2020 and were boosted by strong trading in new medicines, as well as cancer and respiratory medication. Despite the good earnings, CEO Pascal Soriot said he remained cautious amid the uncertainty of the pandemic.


EU, in first-ever cyber sanctions, hits Russian intelligence

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union has slapped sanctions on six people and three organizations accusing them of responsibility for several cyber-attacks that have threatened EU interests. Russia’s military intelligence agency was among those targeted. It’s the first time the 27-nation bloc has ever imposed sanctions over cyber-attacks. The measures announced Thursday include travel bans and a freeze on the assets of those accused. The EU says those targeted include people considered to be involved in the “WannaCry” ransomware attack, the “NotPetya” strike that notably hit Ukraine and the “Operation Cloud Hopper” hacking campaign.


Ghosn gone, other Nissan former executive set to face trial

TOKYO (AP) — The trial is set to begin for Greg Kelly, a former Nissan executive arrested in the financial scandal of his ex-boss Carlos Ghosn (gohn). Their case had been in limbo after Ghosn’s escape to Lebanon. Tokyo Deputy Chief Prosecutor Hiroshi Yamamoto said Thursday the trial of Kelly, an American, and Nissan Motor Co., a defendant in the same trial as a company, will start Sept. 15. He says prosecutors have “a solid case.” Kelly is accused of helping Ghosn under-report future compensation. Ghosn has denounced the allegations, saying Nissan officials conspired to oust him. Kelly also says he’s innocent.

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