NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are wobbling between small gains and losses as gains by big technology companies countered weakness in other sectors including industrial companies.
Investors were working through a mixed picture of economic data. The Labor Department said that jobless claims fell from the previous week, another sign that the job market is healing from the pandemic. However, a report on inflation showed prices rose quickly last month, giving investors another reason to be worried.
Earnings season is winding down. Companies that will report their results later Thursday include Walt Disney, Airbnb and DoorDash.
Back-to-back price hikes, wholesale costs up 1% in July
WASHINGTON (AP) — Inflation at the wholesale level jumped a higher-than-expected 1% in July, disappointing hopes for a slowdown in price increases.
The Labor Department reports that the July gain in its producer price index, which measures price pressures before they reach consumers, matched the June increase with both months advancing by the highest amount since a 1.2% rise in January.
Over the past 12 months, prices at the wholesale level are up a record 7.8%, surpassing the old record of a 7.3% gain set for the 12 months ending in June.
US jobless claims near pandemic low as economy strengthens
WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell for a third straight time last week, the latest sign that employers are laying off fewer people as they struggle to fill a record number of open jobs and meet a surge in consumer demand.
The report from the Labor Department showed that jobless claims fell for a third straight week to 375,000 from 387,000 the previous week. The number of applications has fallen steadily since topping 900,000 in early January as the economy has increasingly reopened in the aftermath of the pandemic recession.
US mortgage rates up after 6-week decline; 30-year at 2.87%
WASHINGTON (AP) — Mortgage rates rose this week for the first time after six weeks of declines amid signs of strong economic recovery. Average rates for home loans remain historically low, however, at under 3%.
Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reports that the average for the 30-year mortgage jumped to 2.87% from 2.77% last week. The rate for a 15-year loan increased to 2.15% from 2.10%.
Last Friday the government reported that U.S employers added 943,000 jobs in July and drove the unemployment rate down to 5.4%. That was another sign that the economy is bouncing back with surprising vigor from COVID-19.
Kentucky Sen. Paul failed to disclose wife’s stock trade
WASHINGTON (AP) — Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul waited more than a year to disclose that his wife bought stock in a company that makes a COVID-19 treatment. It’s an investment that was made after Congress was briefed on the threat of the virus but before the public was largely aware of its danger.
The Republican filed a disclosure Wednesday revealing that Kelley Paul purchased as much as $15,000 in Gilead stock in February 2020. Trades are supposed to be reported within 45 days.
A spokeswoman says Kelley Paul used her own earnings to make the investment and said the failure to disclose it was an oversight.
UN experts call for more rules on countries’ use of spyware
GENEVA (AP) — Human rights experts working with the United Nations have called on countries to pause the sale and transfer of spyware and other surveillance technology until they set rules governing its use, to ensure it won’t impinge upon human rights.
The eight experts spoke out following further Pegasus spyware revelations from an international media consortium last month. It found the military-grade Pegasus malware from Israel-based NSO Group, a hacker-for-hire outfit, has been used to spy on journalists, human rights activists and political dissidents.
OxyContin maker’s settlement goes to judge for confirmation
UNDATED (AP) — Purdue Pharma’s quest to settle thousands of lawsuits over OxyContin’s toll is entering its final phase with the grudging acceptance of most of those who have claims against the company.
A confirmation hearing is getting under way in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for a deal that removes control of the company from members of the wealthy Sackler family and requires them to contribute $4.5 billion to opioid abatement.
While most states and others with claims have signed on, there’s still deep anger that Sackler family members would receive protection from lawsuits under the deal.
UK economy grows again but still below pre-pandemic level
LONDON (AP) — Official figures show the British economy grew by 4.8% in the second quarter of 2021 as lockdown restrictions were lifted. The Office for National Statistics also said that the British economy grew by 1% in June alone, the fifth straight month of growth.
The lifting of pandemic restrictions following the rapid rollout of vaccines in the U.K. has buoyed growth in recent months. All legal limits on contact, such as social distancing rules and caps on the number of people allowed to gather together, were lifted in July.
Economists expect further growth in the months to come even though confirmed virus cases have risen as a result of greater social contact.