Update on the latest in business:

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Stocks move lower

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are broadly lower on Wall Street, pushing major indexes back on a path for weekly losses. Technology, communications and health stocks are among the biggest weights pulling the market down. The S&P 500 was down 0.6% at midday, and every sector within the benchmark index was lower. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.5% and the Nasdaq fell 0.5%. Some retailers rose following a solid sales report, including Gap and Bath & Body Works. Gold prices slumped. Oil and gas prices fell and pushed energy stocks lower, including Exxon Mobil and Cabot Oil & Gas.

RETAIL SALES

Surprise uptick in spending by Americans as delta spread

NEW YORK (AP) — Americans kept shopping last month, despite a rise in COVID-19 cases. The Commerce Department reports that retail sales rose a seasonal adjusted 0.7% in August from the month before. That is much better that the 0.85% decline Wall Street analysts had expected. But Thursday’s report does show a shift in how the delta variant has changed where Americans spend their time and money. Online sales soared 5.3% last month, while sales at restaurants and bars were flat from the month before.

UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS

US unemployment claims rise after hitting pandemic low

WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits moved up last week to 332,000 from a pandemic low, a sign that worsening COVID-19 infections may have slightly increased layoffs. The Labor Department says applications for jobless aid rose from 312,000 the week before. Jobless claims, which generally track the pace of layoffs, have fallen steadily for two months as many employers, struggling to fill jobs, have held onto their employees. Two weeks ago, jobless claims reached their lowest level since March 2020.

EMPLOYMENT MARKET GULF

Job market disconnect raises concerns over economic recovery

UNDATED (AP) — The gulf between record job openings and a lack of people taking those jobs is forcing Wall Street to reassess the pace of the economic recovery. Jobs were gutted during the pandemic and employment growth has been a closely watched gauge for investors. Increasing employment eventually results in increased consumer spending, which is the biggest driver of economic growth. Without the former, analysts say it will take longer than expected for the economy to operate at some semblance of a pre-pandemic normal. Rising COVID-19 cases are one of the biggest culprits driving the jobs divide.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-EMPLOYER MANDATES-OSHA

Small agency, big job: Biden tasks OSHA with vaccine mandate

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Occupational Safety and Health Administration doesn’t make many headlines. Charged with keeping America’s workplaces safe, it sets and enforces standards for goggles, hardhats and ladders. Now the tiny Labor Department agency has been tossed into the raging national debate over federal COVID-19 vaccine mandates. President Joe Biden directed OSHA to write a rule forcing employers with at least 100 workers to require staff get vaccinated or produce weekly test results showing they are virus free. The assignment will surely test the underfunded, understaffed agency that has struggled to defend its authority in court.

CONGRESS-DEBT LIMIT

McConnell warns Yellen that GOP won’t help raise debt limit

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is not budging on his demand that Democrats go it alone on the federal debt limit. McConnell reiterated in a call with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen Wednesday evening that Republicans will not help lift the cap on federal borrowing, which now stands at $28.4 trillion. It’s all part of an emerging standoff in Congress over the issue. Democrats note that they worked with a GOP-controlled White House and Senate to suspend the borrowing limit on three occasions during President Donald Trump’s presidency. They are insisting that Republicans reciprocate and share in what can be a politically unpopular vote.

CONGRESS-OIL INDUSTRY

Democrats call oil giants to testify on climate campaign

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congressional Democrats are calling top executives at ExxonMobil and other oil giants to testify about what lawmakers say is a long-running, industry-wide campaign to spread disinformation about the role of fossil fuels in causing global warming. The House Oversight Committee on Thursday requested that executives at ExxonMobil, BP, Chevron and Shell testify at a hearing next month, along with leaders of the American Petroleum Institute, the oil industry’s top lobbying group, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Oversight Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., and Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., said they are “deeply concerned” that the oil industry has long reaped massive profits while contributing to climate change.

FEDERAL RESERVE-ETHICS

Fed reviews ethics polices after prolific trading uncovered

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve is reviewing the ethics policies that cover the financial holdings of its senior officials in the wake of disclosures that two regional Fed presidents engaged in extensive trading last year. Robert Kaplan, president of the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank, in 2020 traded millions of dollars of stock in companies such as Apple, Amazon, and Google, while Eric Rosengren, president of the Boston Fed, traded in real estate investment trusts, according to financial disclosure forms. The Fed said Thursday that late last week, Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell directed staff to take a comprehensive look at the ethics rules around permissible financial holdings and activities by senior Fed officials.

AP POLL-DIGITAL PRIVACY

Americans have little trust in online security: AP-NORC poll

UNDATED (AP) — A new poll finds that most Americans don’t believe their personal information is secure online and they aren’t satisfied with the federal government’s efforts to protect their digital privacy. The poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and MeriTalk finds that about half of Americans believe that their private text conversations lack security, and they’re even less confident about the security of their social media activity or physical location. Nearly three-quarters of Americans say they support establishing national standards for how companies can collect, process and share personal data.

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