Update on the latest in business:


Stocks post modest gains

NEW YORK (AP) — Technology companies pushed the broader market moderately higher, while a report showed solid growth in consumer confidence.

Major banks announced plans to return billions more to their shareholders in the form of dividends and stock buybacks. Homebuilders made gains following a report on surging home prices.

With two trading days left in June, the market is getting ready to close out a strong first half of the year as the economy emerges from its pandemic-induced recession. The S&P 500 is on track for a gain of more than 14% for the first half of the year.


Consumer confidence up in June, highest level since before pandemic

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. consumer confidence rose for a fifth month in June to the highest level since the pandemic began last year as households responded to increased vaccinations and the further re-opening of businesses.

The Conference Board reports that its consumer confidence index increased to 127.3 in June, up from a May reading of 120.0. The June increase reflected an improvement in consumers’ assessment of current conditions.

The proportion of consumers planning to purchase homes, automobiles and major appliances all rose as did intentions to take a vacation.


US home prices jump at fastest pace in more than 15 years

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. home prices soared in April at the fastest pace since 2005 as Americans bid up prices on a limited supply of available properties.

The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-city home price index jumped nearly 15% in April from the previous year. That is up from a 13.4% annual gain in March.

The price gains have been so dramatic that home sales have started to slow as more would-be buyers are priced out of the market.


Supreme Court won’t sidetrack plans for natural gas pipeline

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has sided with a pipeline company in a dispute with New Jersey over land the company needs for the natural gas pipeline. Both liberal and conservative justices joined to rule 5-4 for the PennEast Pipeline Co..

The 116-mile planned pipeline is to run from Pennsylvania’s Luzerne County to Mercer County in New Jersey. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission had allowed PennEast’s project to move forward in 2018, but lawsuits followed.

Tuesday’s decision from the high court doesn’t end litigation over the pipeline. A separate challenge involving New Jersey is pending in a federal appeals court in Washington.


United orders 270 jets to replace old ones, plan for growth

UNDATED (AP) — United Airlines is placing a huge order for new planes so it can replace aging ones and prepare for growth as the pandemic subsides.

United said Tuesday that it will order 200 Boeing Max jets and 70 Airbus planes. The list price for all those planes is more than $30 billion, but airlines routinely get deep discounts — sometimes more than half. United isn’t saying how much it’s spending.

The number of people flying in the United States has hit 2 million on several days recently. That’s still below 2019 figures, and international travel is much weaker.


US agency orders automated vehicle makers to report crashes

DETROIT (AP) — The U.S. government’s highway safety agency has ordered automakers to report any crashes involving fully autonomous vehicles or partially automated driver assist systems.

The move Tuesday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicates the agency is taking a tougher stance on automated vehicle safety than in the past. It’s been reluctant to issue any regulations of the new technology for fear of hampering adoption of potentially life-saving technology.

The order requires vehicle and equipment manufacturers and operators to report crashes on public roads involving fully autonomous vehicles, or those in which driver assist systems were operating immediately before or during a crash.


Tesla Model 3 regains top safety pick designations

UNDATED (AP) — Tesla’s Model 3 has regained its top safety pick designations from two key groups after losing them recently.

On Tuesday the IIHS said that it recently completed new evaluations of the camera-based front crash prevention system that comes with certain Tesla Model 3 vehicles. The camera-only system earned a superior rating for vehicle-to-vehicle front crash prevention and an advanced rating for pedestrian front crash prevention.

The group said that the new ratings mean that the 2021 “Top Safety Pick Plus” extends to all Model 3s.


GM recalls old SUVs; suspension problem can affect steering

DETROIT (AP) — General Motors is recalling more than 380,000 older SUVs in the U.S., many for a second time, to fix a suspension problem that can cause them to sway at highway speeds. GM decided on the recall after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened an investigation last year.

The recall covers 2010 through 2016 Cadillac SRX and 2011 and 2012 Saab 9-4X SUVs. GM once owned Saab.

GM says in government documents that the rear suspension toe link adjuster may not have been tightened properly. The toe link keeps the rear suspension stable and keeps tires on the ground. Owners are being told not to drive their vehicle if they see dashboard warning lights or experience unusual steering behavior. Dealers will replace the adjustable toe link with a non-adjustable one.


Congressional leaders urge FCC to perform equity audit

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congressional leaders and a media advocacy organization are urging the Federal Communications Commission to investigate how policy decisions have disparately harmed Black Americans and other communities of color. That’s according to a letter sent Tuesday to the acting FCC chair.

In the letter first shared with The Associated Press, Democratic Reps. Jamaal Bowman of New York, Yvette Clarke of New York, and Brenda Lawrence of Michigan along with Media 2070 said the FCC needs to address its role in creating and perpetuating systemic inequities that have excluded people of color from media ownership opportunities.

A lack of diversity and representation has long been a concern for media advocates and experts who argue that racism has historically permeated the nation’s media industry.


Rental assistance fell victim to politics, bureaucracy

UNDATED (AP) — A rental crisis spurred by the pandemic prompted many states to make bold promises to help renters, but most failed to deliver on them after Congress passed the sweeping CARES Act in March 2020. A handful of states, many led by Republicans, offered little to no assistance.

State leaders set aside at least $2.6 billion from the CARES Act’s Coronavirus Relief Fund in 2020 to prop up struggling renters, but more than $425 million of that — or 16% — never made it into the pockets of tenants or their landlords, according to an investigation by the Center for Public Integrity and The Associated Press.

A federal eviction moratorium, which was set to expire June 30, has been extended to July 31. It is threatening millions with losing their homes.

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