Stocks edge lower as investors wait to hear from the Fed
NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks edged lower in afternoon trading Wednesday, a day after the S&P 500 had its biggest drop in four weeks and broke a five-day winning streak. Investors are waiting to hear from the Federal Reserve, which will release the minutes from its latest policy meeting this afternoon. The S&P 500 index fell 0.2% while the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.2% and the Nasdaq composite was essentially unchanged. Small-company stocks did better than the broader market. Lowe’s rose 10.3% after the company’s results were better than expected and gave an upbeat forecast.
Housing construction slumps 7% in July to 1.53 million units
WASHINGTON (AP) — Home construction fell a sharp 7% in July as homebuilders struggled to cope with a variety of headwinds. The Commerce Department says the July decline put home construction at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.53 million units. Applications for building permits, which can forecast future activity, rose 2.6% in July from the June level to an annual rate of 1.64 million units.
Data of 40 million plus exposed in latest T-Mobile breach
UNDATED (AP) — The names, Social Security numbers and information from driver’s licenses or other identification of just over 40 million people who applied for T-Mobile credit were exposed in a recent data breach, the company said Wednesday. The same data for about 7.8 million current T-Mobile customers who pay for phone service in monthly bills also appears to be compromised. No phone numbers, account numbers, PINs, passwords or financial information from the nearly 50 million records and accounts were compromised, it said. It’s just the latest data breach to hit T-Mobile in recent years but experts say the sheer numbers far exceed the previous breaches.
Report: Census hit by cyberattack, US count unaffected
UNDATED (AP) — U.S. Census Bureau computer servers uninvolved with the 2020 census were exploited last year during a cybersecurity attack. A watchdog report released Wednesday says the hackers’ attempts to keep access to the system were unsuccessful. The attack took place in January 2020 on the bureau’s remote access servers. According to the Office of Inspector General, the Census Bureau missed opportunities to limit its vulnerability to the attack and didn’t discover and report the attack in a timely manner. In a written response, acting Census Bureau director Ron Jarmin reiterated that none of the systems used for the 2020 census were compromised.
US health officials call for booster shots against COVID-19
NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. health officials have announced plans to dispense COVID-19 booster shots to all Americans to shore up their protection amid the surging delta variant and evidence that the vaccines’ effectiveness is falling. The plan, as outlined by the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other top health authorities, calls for booster doses eight months after people get their second shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. The booster doses could begin the week of Sept. 20.
WHO warns against boosters before 1st vaccines
GENEVA (AP) — The chief scientist of the World Health Organization is warning of “even more dire situations” in the coronavirus pandemic if high-income countries start administering booster vaccines ahead of poorer countries without vaccines. With the U.S. health officials recommending booster shots for all Americans who have already been vaccinated, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan expressed concern. She says leaving billions of people unvaccinated could foster the emergence of new variants. She says the data doesn’t indicate boosters are needed. WHO’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, says 10 countries have administered 75% of all vaccine supply, while low-income countries have vaccinated “barely 2 percent of their people.” He says, “vaccine injustice is a shame on all humanity.”
Disney World tweaks face mask policy, optional for outdoors
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Walt Disney World is tweaking its face mask policy. Starting Thursday, the theme park resort in Florida will allow visitors to chose whether or not to wear face coverings in outdoor lines, outdoor theatres and outdoor attractions. They previously had been required. Face coverings will remain optional in outdoor common areas. They will still be required for visitors age 2 and up at all indoor locations, such as restaurants, theaters and transportation with the exception of ferry boats.
Target extends streak even as online sales growth cools
NEW YORK (AP) — Target’s streak of strong results extended into its latest quarter but its skyrocketing online sales growth has come back to earth. The Minneapolis retailer reports that sales at its stores that have been open for at least a year rose 8.7% in the three-month period that ended July 31. That was down from 10.9% growth in the same 2020 span. And like Walmart, Target saw a slowdown from last year’s blistering online sales growth as more shoppers came out of their pandemic-forced isolation and went back to stores. The company offered an upbeat sales outlook for the remainder of the year.
Ford, Robert Wood Johnson foundations fund tenant clout
UNDATED (AP) — Two of the nation’s wealthiest foundations have created a new $7.5 million fund to help give tenants more say in housing matters, as millions of Americans struggle to make rent and face possible eviction as a result of the pandemic. The HouseUS Fund, supported by the Ford and Robert Wood Johnson foundations has committed about $1.6 million this year to grassroots organizations that are working to help people stay in their homes. The fund will also support groups that advocate to provide renters with access to lawyers and eliminate certain late fees and penalties levied by landlords, among other things.