Update on the latest in business:

FINANCIAL MARKETS

stocks waver as Fed chief addresses Congress again

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks gave up an early gain and turned mixed in afternoon trading on Wall Street Thursday as investors remain focused on inflation and rising interest rates. The S&P 500 rose 0.1%, The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.2% and the Nasdaq rose 0.4%. Energy stocks fell amid slipping oil prices. Fed Chair Jerome Powell, testifying before Congress for a second day,...

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FINANCIAL MARKETS

stocks waver as Fed chief addresses Congress again

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks gave up an early gain and turned mixed in afternoon trading on Wall Street Thursday as investors remain focused on inflation and rising interest rates. The S&P 500 rose 0.1%, The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.2% and the Nasdaq rose 0.4%. Energy stocks fell amid slipping oil prices. Fed Chair Jerome Powell, testifying before Congress for a second day, reaffirmed the central bank’s goal of “keeping inflation expectations well and truly anchored” as the Fed tries to rein surging prices. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which helps set mortgage rates, fell to 3.06%.

MORTGAGE RATES

Average rates inch higher

WASHINGTON (AP) — Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates inched up this week following last week’s mammoth jump, the biggest in 35 years. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reports that the 30-year rate ticked up to 5.81% this week, from last week’s 5.78%. Last week’s average was the highest since November of 2008 during the housing crisis. In its ongoing bid to tamp down inflation, the Federal Reserve last week raised its benchmark rate by three-quarters of a point, the biggest single hike since 1994. The Fed’s unusually large rate hike came after government data showed U.S. inflation rose in May to a four-decade high of 8.6%.

UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS

Fewer Americans file for jobless aid

WASHINGTON (AP) — Fewer Americans applied for jobless benefits last week as the U.S. job market remains robust despite myriad economic pressures, including four-decade high inflation. The Labor Department says applications for jobless aid for the week ending June 18 fell to 229,000, a decline of 2,000 from the previous week. First-time applications generally mirror the number of layoffs. The four-week average for claims rose by 4,500 from the previous week, to 223,500. The total number of Americans collecting jobless benefits for the week ending June 11 was 1,315,000. That figure has hovered near 50-year lows for months.

FDA-JUUL

FDA bans Juul e-cigarettes tied to teen vaping surge

WASHINGTON (AP) — Health officials have ordered vaping company Juul to pull its electronic cigarettes from the U.S. market. It’s the biggest blow yet to the embattled company that is widely blamed for sparking a surge in teen vaping. The announcement Thursday by the Food and Drug Administration is part of a sweeping regulatory review of e-cigarettes, which faced little regulation until recently. Since last fall, the FDA has greenlighted a few e-cigarettes that account for a tiny share of the vaping market. To stay on the market, manufacturers must show their products help reduce the harm of smoking for adults, without appealing to kids.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-VACCINES-CHILDREN

Publix supermarkets not offering COVID vaccine to young kids

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — The Publix supermarket chain isn’t offering the COVID-19 vaccine to children younger than 5. The Florida-based chain hasn’t explained its decision. Publix has 1,288 stores in seven Southern states and was instrumental in distributing the vaccine when it was initially released. It currently offers the vaccine to children 5 and older. The company told the Tampa Bay Times on Wednesday that it won’t offer the vaccine to young children “at this time.” Florida is the only state that didn’t pre-order the under-5 vaccine, and state Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo has recommended against vaccinating healthy children.

INSTAGRAM-AGE VERIFICATION

Instagram tests using AI, other tools for age verification

Instagram is testing new ways to verify the age of people using its service, including a face-scanning artificial intelligence tool, having mutual friends verify their age or uploading an ID. Meta, which owns both Facebook and Instagram, said that beginning on Thursday, if someone tries to edit their date of birth on Instagram from under the age of 18 to 18 or over, they will be required to verify their age using one of these methods.

AMAZON-ALEXA-DEAD-RELATIVES

Amazon’s Alexa could soon mimic voice of dead relatives

Amazon’s Alexa might soon replicate the voice of family members – even if they’re dead. The capability was unveiled at Amazon’s Re:Mars conference in Las Vegas. It’s currently in development and would allow the voice-assistant Alexa to mimic the sound of a specific person based on a less than a minute of recording provided by users. Amazon’s head scientist for Alexa said at the event Wednesday the desire behind the feature was to build greater trust in the interactions users have with Alexa by putting more human attributes into the device. Amazon did not say when the feature might be available for public use.

AMAZON-AFFORDABLE-HOUSING

Amazon providing $23M for affordable housing in Seattle

SEATTLE (AP) — Amazon says it’s providing $23 million to help minority-led organizations build or preserve more than 500 new affordable housing units in Seattle. It’s the latest spending by a tech company to ease a severe housing crunch the industry has helped create. The commitment announced Thursday comes from Amazon’s Housing Equity Fund, a $2 billion initiative launched in January 2021. The fund has so far invested more than $1.2 billion to create or preserve over 8,000 affordable homes across three regions where the company has offices: the Puget Sound in Washington state; Arlington, Virginia; and Nashville, Tennessee. The new investments are the fund’s first in Seattle proper.

NIKE-RUSSIA

Nike makes full exit from Russia after suspending operations

Nike will fully shut down its operations in Russia, joining other international companies that have withdrawn from the country after its brutal invasion of Ukraine.Nike Inc. suspended operations three months ago at all of its company-owned and operated stores in Russia but like other major corporations, has attempted to avoid exposing employees to hardship as it does so.“Our priority is to ensure we are fully supporting our employees while we responsibly scale down our operations over the coming months,” the sports apparel maker said Thursday.

BIDEN-OFFSHORE WIND

Offshore wind boosted as Biden, East Coast governors team up

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is launching a partnership with 11 East Coast governors to boost the growing offshore wind industry, a key element of President Joe Biden’s climate change plan. Biden administration officials will meet with governors and labor leaders Thursday to announce commitments to expand important parts of the offshore industry. Those parts include manufacturing facilities, ports and workforce training and development. The Democratic president has a goal of deploying enough offshore wind power by 2030 to provide electricity to 10 million homes and support 77,000 jobs. The governors are from Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.

BIDEN-WILDLIFE HABITAT

Federal agencies reverse Trump limits on habitat protection

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — The Biden administration is dropping a rule adopted under former President Donald Trump that limited which lands and waters could be designated as critical habitat for imperiled animals and plants. The government wrote a definition of “habitat” under the Endangered Species Act shortly before Trump left office. It prevented federal agencies from selecting areas for protection that don’t presently meet a species’ needs — even if those places might be suitable in the future because of restoration work or natural changes. Biden administration officials say the definition limited agencies’ ability to make habitat protection decisions based on science.

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