Update on the latest in business:

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Stocks slip but are still on track for 6th monthly gain

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are lower in afternoon trading but are still on track to close out July with their sixth straight monthly gain.

The S&P 500 fell 0.5%, putting it back in the red for the week, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq fell 0.7%.

Amazon weighed down major indexes following a weak sales report and forecast. The internet giant, which has prospered during the pandemic, slumped 6.8% after reporting sales that fell short of analysts’ forecasts. It also issued a weak outlook for the current quarter.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 1.24%.

CONSUMER SPENDING

US consumers boost spending 1% as inflation remains high

WASHINGTON (AP) — American consumers increased their spending by 1% in June — a dose of energy for an economy that is quickly rebounding from the pandemic recession but is facing new risks led by the delta variant of the coronavirus.

At the same time, a key inflation barometer that is closely followed by the Federal Reserve surged 3.5% last month from a year earlier. That was the fastest such 12-month surge since 1991.

June’s solid increase in consumer spending provided further evidence that consumers are driving a strengthening recovery from the pandemic recession. The report from the Commerce Department also showed that personal incomes, which provide the fuel for spending, edged up 0.1% in June after two months of big declines, reflecting the waning of several government support programs.

EMPLOYMENT COSTS

Worker pay rises strongly as businesses fight to fill jobs

WASHINGTON (AP) — Wages and salaries rose at a healthy pace in the three months ended in June as employers competed to find enough workers to fill millions of available jobs.

The Labor Department says pay increased 1% in the second quarter for workers employed by businesses, excluding government employees. That’s down slightly from 1.1% in the first three months of the year but otherwise the second-highest reading in more than a decade.

VIRUS OUTBREAK

CDC considers advice as delta variant emerges

WASHINGTON (AP) — New evidence showing the delta variant is as contagious as chickenpox has prompted U.S. health officials to consider changing advice on how the nation fights the coronavirus.

Recommending masks for everyone and requiring vaccines for doctors and other health care providers are among measures the CDC is considering. The presentation for CDC staff tells them to “acknowledge the war has changed” and infections in vaccinated people may be as transmissible as in the unvaccinated.

The internal documents also cite studies from Canada, Singapore and Scotland showing the delta variant may pose a greater risk for hospitalization, ICU visits and death than the previous variant. The CDC emphasized vaccines are highly effective at preventing infections, severe disease and death.

WALMART-MASK POLICY

Walmart mandates masks for all workers in some areas

NEW YORK (AP) — Walmart is reversing its mask policy and will require all its workers including vaccinated ones in areas with high infection rates to wear masks.

The world’s largest retailer is also encouraging customers to wear masks in those stores in those areas with surging cases of the delta variant and will be adding back signs at the entrances. The company is doubling to $150 the incentive for workers in stores, clubs, transportation, distribution center and fulfillment centers to get the vaccine.

The moves come three days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed course on some masking guidelines, recommending that even vaccinated people return to wearing masks indoors in parts of the U.S. where the delta variant is fueling infection surges.

EUROPE-ECONOMY

European economy grows 2%, ending double-dip recession

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Europe’s economy has rebounded into growth in the second quarter. But it lagged pre-pandemic levels and trailed the faster recoveries in the U.S. and China with the delta variant continuing to cast a shadow of uncertainty over the upturn.

Official figures show that gross domestic product grew 2% in the April-June quarter over the quarter before. That compared to a drop of 0.3% in the first quarter as the 19 countries that use the euro endured a double-dip recession. The growth figure was stronger than the 1.5% foreseen by market analysts.

PERSIAN GULF-TENSIONS

Ship tied to Israeli billionaire attacked off Oman, 2 killed

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The firm managing an oil tanker attacked off Oman’s coast says two of its crew were killed in the assault.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the Thursday night raid targeting the Liberian-flagged tanker Mercer Street. However, a U.S. official said a so-called suicide drone was used. An Israeli security official alleged, without providing evidence, that an Iranian drone had attacked the ship.

The company managing the Liberian-flagged Mercer Street said the two slain crew members came from the United Kingdom and Romania. The assault represented the worst-known maritime violence so far in regional attacks over the past two years that the U.S., Israel and others have blamed on Iran.

EXXON RESULTS

Exxon posts $4.7B in Q2 profit as demand for fuel rebounds

NEW YORK (AP) — Exxon Mobil swung back to a second-quarter profit as demand for fuel recovered from lows reached earlier in the pandemic.

Exxon earned $4.69 billion in the second quarter, beating analyst expectations. The oil giant brought in $67.74 billion in revenue, more than double the amount at the same time last year.

The recovery came during a politically tumultuous time for the oil industry. Exxon’s shareholders recently voted to replace three of the company’s 12 board members with directors they said were better equipped to handle climate change.

CATERPILLAR-RESULTS

Caterpillar 2Q revenue up on higher equipment demand

UNDATED (AP) — Caterpillar’s revenue climbed in the second quarter as the machinery company experienced increased demand for its equipment and dealer inventories improved.

Revenue for the Deerfield, Illinois-based company rose to $12.89 billion from $10 billion. Analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research expected $12.41 billion.

Sales for the construction industry segment climbed 40% on increased sales volume and higher prices.

AMAZON-EU-FINE

EU regulators fine Amazon $886 million

NEW YORK (AP) — European Union regulators have fined Amazon $886 million for data protection violations. Amazon said in a regulatory filing that the Luxembourg National Commission for Data Protection issued a decision against the company earlier this month, claiming that its processing of personal data did not comply with the EU general data protection regulation. Amazon said that it believes the decision is without merit and that it will defend itself vigorously in the matter.

MEDIA-FOX-MYPILLOW

MyPillow advertiser shunning Fox for refusal to air ad

NEW YORK (AP) — One of Fox News’ most visible advertisers, Mike Lindell and his MyPillow line of productes, has pulled his commercials from the network because it would not air his ad promoting discredited claims of election fraud.

Fox confirmed the move, which was first reported in the Wall Street Journal.

Lindell has become a prominent supporter of former President Donald Trump and his false claims of widespread voter fraud. Lindell wanted to promote a symposium on the topic being held next month.

Fox called the move unfortunate, given Lindell’s success in building his brand on the network. A Lindell representative was not immediately available for comment.

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