Update on the latest in business:


Stocks meander

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are drifting again on Wall Street, as a record-breaking week of trading meanders to its end. The S&P 500 was virtually unchanged in midday trading after flipping between small gains and losses through the morning. Other major indexes were modestly higher. Big gains for tech stocks are once again helping to keep the market steady.

The muted moves cap a week in which the S&P 500 returned to a record but is on track for only a 0.4% gain.


Reports Friday suggested that U.S. business activity is accelerating, while sales of previously occupied homes exploded last month. But other data earlier in the morning pointed to a slowdown in Europe’s economy.


Low mortgage rates and heavy buyer demand send US home sales surging

SILVER SPRING, Md. (AP) — Spurred by ultra-low mortgage rates, home buyers rushed last month to snap up a limited supply of existing houses, causing the pace of purchases to jump by a record-high 24.7%. The July surge in purchases reported Friday by the National Association of Realtors marked the second straight month of accelerating sales. The back-to-back increases have helped stabilize the home buying market, which all but froze early this spring when the viral pandemic erupted across the United States. With July’s increase, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.86 million, purchases are now up 8.7% from a year ago.


Postmaster says ballots No. 1 priority, but details no plan

WASHINGTON (AP) — Facing public backlash, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has told a Senate panel that it’s his “sacred duty” to ensure election mail delivery. But he told senators on Friday that he has no plans to restore curbside mail collection boxes or high-speed sorting machines that have been removed. He said they’re not needed. The committee is digging into service changes he made ahead of the November election, just as millions of Americans are expected to vote by mail. Democrats warn DeJoy’s cost-cutting initiatives are causing an upheaval that threatens voting.


California’s jobless rate improves; economy still struggling

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California added more than 140,000 jobs in July and lowered its unemployment rate to 13.3%. But the unemployment rate is still higher than it ever was during the Great Recession a decade ago. Compared to the same period last year, California has lost more than 1.6 million jobs, the most of any state in the country. Nine of the state’s 11 job sectors added jobs in July. But all are still reeling from the massive job losses sustained earlier this year. The leisure and hospitality sector added nearly 6,000 jobs last month, down more than 619,000 from last year.


Michigan appeals court upholds governor’s emergency powers

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan appeals court says Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s emergency declarations and orders to curb the coronavirus clearly fall within the scope of her legal powers. The court in a 2-1 ruling Friday rejected a lawsuit filed by the Republican-led Legislature. The decision is expected to be appealed to the state Supreme Court. The judges denied GOP lawmakers’ contention that a 1945 law only lets a governor indefinitely extend emergencies that are local, not statewide, in nature. Also Friday, Michigan was approved by the federal government to provide an additional $300 weekly benefit to 910,000 unemployed residents.


Movie theater trade group establishes COVID-19 protocols

As movie theaters come back to life across the country, the National Association of Theater Owners is helping to take the guess work out of safe operating practices in the era of COVID-19. The trade organization is announcing a set of health and safety protocols Friday based on guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and the Occupational Safety and Heath Administration. Over 300 companies representing more than 2,600 theater locations in the U.S. have already signed on to the voluntary CinemaSafe program, which recommends mask-wearing, reduced capacity, sanitization and air filtration.


Food trucks hit by virus find new foodies

UNDATED (AP) — Food trucks have long been seen as an urban treasure but are now being saved by the suburbs during the coronavirus pandemic. No longer able to depend on bustling city centers, these small businesses on wheels are venturing out to where people are working and spending most of their time — home. As food trucks hunt for customers that used to flock to them, they’re finding people who are thrilled to skip cooking dinner, sample new kinds of food and mingle with neighbors on what feels like a night out while safely staying close to home.


Environmental groups challenge Ohio gas storage permits

CLEVELAND (AP) — Environmental groups are asking an Ohio agency to revoke permits issued for construction of a natural gas liquids storage facility along the Ohio River. Five groups filed a lawsuit Thursday with the 10th District Court of Appeals in Columbus against the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. The complaint says the department failed to require public notification allow for a public comment period before approving three drilling permits last month. Plans call for the creation of three massive caverns by injecting millions of gallons of water into salt formations where a Denver-based company will store ethane, propane and butane.


Turkey discovers large natural gas reserve off Black Sea

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey’s president has announced the discovery of a large natural gas reserve off the Black Sea coast that will help ease the country’s dependence on imports. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (REH’-jehp TY’-ihp UR’-doh-wahn) said the amount of gas discovered is 320 billion cubic meters. Industry analysts say that is notable but not a “game-changer” that might turn the country into a regional energy hub. But if confirmed as recoverable, the reserves could ease the country’s dependence on costly energy imports, which last year totaled $41 billion.


Longtime Amazon executive Jeff Wilke to retire next year

NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon retail chief Jeff Wilke, who has helped Amazon transform itself from an online bookstore into a global colossus, is retiring early next year. The 53-year-old executive has been with Amazon for more than two decades and was regarded as a potential successor to founder and CEO Jeff Bezos. His oversight at Amazon grew along with the company, running not just Amazon.com, but the Whole Foods grocery chain and its physical book stores. Wilke is referred to within Amazon as “The other Jeff” to differentiate him from Bezos. The two have worked closely together since Wilke joined the company in 1999, four years after Amazon.com started selling books online.

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