Update on the latest in business:

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Asian stocks sink as investors watch for US jobs data

BEIJING (AP) — Asian stock markets are mixed after Wall Street rose to a high as investors wait for U.S. jobs data for an update on how coronavirus flareups are affecting the biggest global economy.

Shanghai and Seoul declined while Tokyo advanced and Hong Kong was flat. Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 index gained after investors were encouraged by a decline in U.S. unemployment claims. They were watching for Friday’s monthly employment report for an indication of how new disease flareups and renewed anti-disease curbs might be affecting hiring and wages.

ECONOMY-JOBS REPORT

US likely enjoyed hiring spree in July as economy rebounds

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. economy likely enjoyed a burst of job growth last month as it bounced back with surprising vigor from last year’s coronavirus shutdown. That despite an uptick in COVID-19 cases and a shortage of available workers.

Today’s Labor Department’s July jobs report is expected to show that the United States added more than 860,000 jobs in July, topping June’s 850,000, according to a survey of economists by the data firm FactSet.

The rollout of vaccines has encouraged businesses to reopen and consumers to return to shops, restaurants and bars they’d shunned for months after the pandemic struck.

CONGRESS-INFRASTRUCTURE

Senators struggle to amend, finish $1T infrastructure bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senators are struggling to wrap up work on the bipartisan infrastructure plan. A late-night session Thursday stalled out as new debates emerged over proposed amendments to the $1 trillion package.

A procedural vote was moved to Saturday. Senators have processed nearly two dozen amendments and none has substantially changed the framework of the public works bill.

One debate emerged over cryptocurrency tax compliance.

The Congressional Budget Office said the overall package would increase deficits by about $256 billion over the next decade. But the bill’s backers say it is a “historic investment” that will lead to economic growth.

MEDIA-CNN-VACCINES

CNN fires three employees for coming to work unvaccinated

NEW YORK (AP) — CNN has fired three employees for violating its policy that employees must be vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus. The firings were revealed Thursday as part of a memo sent by Jeff Zucker, chairman of WarnerMedia news and sports.

CNN did not provide any details about the firings, but Zucker wrote that the company has a “zero tolerance policy” about unvaccinated employees working in its offices.

Like several news organizations, including The Associated Press on Thursday, CNN has delayed a planned post-Labor Day return to offices. Both companies say returns will be delayed until at least October, with further evaluations based on the progress of COVID cases.

FACEBOOK-ACADEMIC-SHUTOUT

FTC official raps Facebook for booting political ads probe

WASHINGTON (AP) — A senior Federal Trade Commission official is criticizing Facebook’s move to shut down the personal accounts of two academic researchers and terminate their probe into misinformation spread through political ads on the social network.

Samuel Levine, acting director of the FTC’s consumer protection bureau, said in a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg that Facebook wrongly used a 2019 data-privacy settlement with the FTC to justify shutting down the New York University researchers’ accounts this week.

Levine also said Facebook failed to honor a prior commitment to notify the FTC in advance of taking such an action.

Facebook maintained that the researchers violated its terms of service and were involved in unauthorized data collection from its massive network. The academics, however, say the company is attempting to exert control on research that paints it in a negative light.

EXPENSIVE MAUI HOME

$45M mansion sale reflects hot Hawaii real estate market

HONOLULU (AP) — A San Francisco investment banker has sold his Maui mansion to a retired hedge fund CEO and a Hollywood actress for $45 million.

The cash sale of the eight-bedroom oceanfront residence reflects a hot market where the median price of a Maui home tops $1.1 million.

According to Adam Weiss and Barret Swatek’s real estate agent, the price of the home they purchased is the second-highest in Hawaii history.

The most expensive single-family residence sold for $46.1 million on Kauai in 2018. But that home is on more than 15 acres, while the Maui property sits on less than an acre.

Stan Franco, president of Stand Up Maui, which advocates for affordable housing says that Maui’s hot real estate market makes it difficult for longtime residents, including Native Hawaiians, to afford to buy or rent homes, forcing them to leave Hawaii.

VIRGIN GALLATIC-SPACE RIDES

Virgin Galactic restarts space-trip sales at $450,000 and up

UNDATED (AP) — Virgin Galactic is selling tickets for space flights again, just weeks after founder Richard Branson rode a rocket-powered plane to more than 50 miles above the Earth.

Tickets aren’t cheap. Virgin Galactic is setting prices to start at $450,000 a seat.

The company announced the sales as it reported Thursday that it lost $94 million in the second quarter. Costs for overhead and sales jumped from a year earlier. Revenue was just $571,000, barely enough to cover one seat on a future flight.

The companies’ CEO says the company resumed sales on Thursday to take advantage of a surge in consumer interest after the flight by Branson, who beat rival billionaire Jeff Bezos and his Blue Origin ship into space by nine days.

The company based in Las Cruces, New Mexico, won regulatory approval in June to fly people into space.

QATAR-AIRBUS

Qatar Airways grounds 13 Airbus A350s as fuselage degrading

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Qatar Airways says it has grounded 13 Airbus A350s over degradation of the plane’s fuselage.

Qatar Airways made the announcement on Thursday, further escalating a monthslong dispute with the European airplane maker. It says the aircraft will be removed “from service until such time as the root cause can be established and a satisfactory solution made available to permanently correct the underlying condition.” Airbus did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Qatar Airways, based in the energy-rich Arabian Peninsula nation of the same name, is a major East-West long-haul carrier. It is one of the biggest buyers of the twin-aisle aircraft.

NEW ZEALAND-GOOGLE FOUNDER

Google founder gets New Zealand residency, raising questions

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Google co-founder Larry Page has gained New Zealand residency, officials confirm, stoking debate over whether extremely wealthy people can essentially buy access to the South Pacific country.

Immigration New Zealand says Page first applied for residency in November under a special visa open to people with at least 10 million New Zealand dollars ($7 million) to invest.

Immigration New Zealand notes that while Page has become a resident, he doesn’t have permanent residency status and remains subject to certain restrictions. Forbes ranks Page as the world’s sixth-wealthiest person, with a fortune of $117 billion.

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