Update on the latest business

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Stocks mixed at midday

NEW YORK (AP) — Stock indexes are mixed in midday trading on Wall Street following a Wednesday rally.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was slightly higher and the S&P 500 index and the Nasdaq composite slightly lower.

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Technology companies are slipping after chipmaker Qualcomm gave a disappointing revenue forecast for the current quarter.

Drugmaker Perrigo fell after predicting weak sales.

Monster Beverage dropped after the company said Coca-Cola has developed energy drinks that would compete with its own products.

Banks are rising as the Federal Reserve wraps up its latest meeting. It’s not expected to raise interest rates, but traders will examine the central bank’s statement for signs about its plans for the economy. The Fed is expected to increase its benchmark rate again in December.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury held steady at 3.23 percent.

MORTGAGE RATES

US mortgage rates jump to highest level in 7 years

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. mortgage rates jumped this week to the highest level in seven years, a trend that is pulling down home sales and slowing home price growth.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate on a 30-year, fixed rate mortgage rose to 4.94 percent, from 4.83 percent last week. A year ago the rate was 3.9 percent.

The average rate on a 15-year, fixed rate loan increased to 4.33 percent, from 4.23 percent last week.

Higher rates have kept many would-be purchasers on the sidelines. Sales of existing homes have fallen for six straight months, and sales of newly-built homes have declined for four months.

Freddie Mac says home price increases are slowing as a result, particularly in higher-priced coastal cities.

HOMEBUILDERS-UNDER PRESSURE

Pressures rise for homebuilders as rates hit 7-year high

WASHINGTON (AP) — The beating for homebuilders is continuing as rising interest rates and home prices keep potential buyers on the sidelines.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rates on 30-year, fixed rate mortgages hit a 7-year high. Also Thursday, D.R. Horton said home deliveries in the first quarter will come in below what Wall Street was expecting. It’s citing skyrocketing home prices and mortgage rates.

The Texas homebuilder led all other major players downward, falling 6 percent in midday trading. Others fell around 2 percent to 4 percent.

The Federal Reserve has been raising short-term rates to cool U.S. economic expansion, and is expected to raise rates for a fourth time this year in December. More are anticipated.

Sales of new U.S. homes have now declined for four months.

COCA-COLA-MONSTER

Monster shares fall as Coke develops its own energy drinks

CORONA, Calif. (AP) — Shares of energy drink maker Monster Beverage Corp. tumbled after the company said its partner Coca-Cola Co. is developing energy drinks of its own.

Coke bought a stake in California-based Monster in 2014. At that time, Coke transferred its energy brands to Monster and agreed not to develop competing drinks.

But in a conference call with investors late Wednesday, Monster CEO Rodney Sacks said Coke is developing two energy drinks it believes are exceptions to the agreement.

Coke says Coca-Cola Energy and Coca-Cola Energy No Sugar wouldn’t violate the agreement, which allows Coke to market energy drinks under its own name. But Monster is fighting their release.

Both companies confirmed they have entered into arbitration.

Monster shares were down 8 percent to $51.20 in morning trading.

FDA-PRIMATENE MIST RETURN

FDA approves return of popular Primatene Mist asthma inhaler

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — A new version of the once-popular asthma inhaler Primatene Mist will soon return to U.S. stores.

The Food and Drug Administration approved the over-the-counter aerosol inhaler late Wednesday. It’s for temporary relief of mild, intermittent asthma symptoms in people ages 12 and up.

The original Primatene Mist was pulled from store shelves seven years ago because the inhaler’s ozone-depleting propellant had been banned. That version had been marketed for half a century, including in memorable TV ads.

The new product from Amphastar Pharmaceuticals uses a safer propellant. The inhaler will cost about $25 and should be available by the end of the year.

The FDA said in a statement that the inhaler should not be substituted for prescription treatments or used by people with severe asthma.

SUBARU RECALLS

Subaru recalls nearly 400K vehicles to fix stalling problems

DETROIT (AP) — Subaru is recalling nearly 400,000 vehicles in the U.S. to fix two problems that can cause them to stall.

The first recall covers about 229,000 Outback and Legacy vehicles from the 2018 model year. Government documents say a software problem can stop the low-fuel warning light from illuminating and make the miles-to-empty display inaccurate. The problem can cause drivers to run out of fuel and stall, increasing the risk of a crash.

Dealers will reprogram the software.

The other recall covers the 2012 to 2014 Impreza, and the 2013 BRZ, XV Crosstrek and Toyota Scion FR-S.

The engine valve springs in about 166,000 of the vehicles can fracture, causing the engines to malfunction or stall.

Dealers will replace the springs. Toyota and Subaru jointly designed the FR-S sports car.

COMMSCOPE-ARRIS-ACQUISITION

CommScope, getting ready for 5G, spends $5.7B for Arris

NEW YORK (AP) — Telecommunications equipment maker CommScope is paying $5.7 billion for Arris International as it prepares for the entrance of faster 5G service to the wireless market.

Arris makes modems and boxes for the wireless industry, including cable operators. Equipment makers and telecommunications companies like Verizon are all gearing up for 5G, which is expected to allow for higher and faster data rates and better connections between multiple devices.

Under the deal announced Thursday, CommScope Holding Co. will pay $31.75 per share for Arris International Plc. and assume the company’s debt, bringing the total buyout price to about $7.4 billion. Also, asset manager The Carlyle Group is helping to finance the deal with a $1 billion investment in CommScope.

CYBERSECURITY-FAKE REPORTERS

In online ruse, fake journalists tried to hack Saudi critic

WASHINGTON (AP) — Hackers impersonating journalists tried to intercept the communications of a prominent Saudi opposition figure in Washington.

An Associated Press review of malicious emails sent to activist Ali AlAhmed shows he was approached by hackers masquerading as a BBC representative and as Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed last month at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

The emails were attempts to break into AlAhmed’s inbox. AlAhmed blames the Saudi government for the hacking campaign, although the AP has yet to find any forensic evidence to back that.

The Saudi Embassy in Washington did not immediately return written questions.

Pretending to be journalists carries a significant risk that goes beyond the reporters involved. Elodie Vialle of Reporters Without Borders says such tactics have a “chilling effect.”

IRAN-US-SANCTIONS

Iran oil minister: US waivers not enough, painful time ahead

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s oil minister predicts a painful time for international oil customers as U.S. sanctions take hold, saying waivers Washington granted to eight major oil-importing countries are not enough for market demands.

Iranian state TV on Thursday quoted the minster, Bijan Zanganeh, as saying he sees the months ahead as “painful months for oil consumers.”

Zanganeh claimed the Trump administration may have been able to “superficially” bring fuel prices down ahead of the U.S. mid-term elections this week but that there’s bound to be a hike in prices in the future.

The United States on Monday re-imposed oil and banking sanctions on Iran that where lifted under the 2015 nuclear deal but granted waivers to eight major importers to continue buying Iranian petroleum products without penalty for another six months.

EUROPE-ECONOMY

Eurozone economy seen slowing through to 2020

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union expects economic growth across the 19-country eurozone to slow over the coming years amid rising trade tensions around the world and higher oil prices.

In its autumn forecast, the EU’s executive Commission said Thursday that eurozone growth this year is expected to moderate to 2.1 percent from last year’s decade-high rate of 2.4 percent. It also expects a further easing to 1.9 percent in 2019 and 1.7 percent in 2010.

In spite of the anticipated slowdown, the Commission expects all member states to see growth this year and next.

The Commission also said that economic growth will become increasingly reliant on domestic factors, with consumer spending benefiting from stronger wage growth and looser budget measures in some countries.

BREXIT-LEGAL CHALLENGE

UK court rejects bid to stop legal challenge to Brexit

LONDON (AP) — Europe’s top court will consider whether Britain can unilaterally stop Brexit, after the U.K. government’s bid to halt the case failed.

Two Scottish appeals judges on Thursday rejected the government’s request to appeal a lower court ruling that allowed the case to be heard by the European Court of Justice.

The Luxembourg-based court has a hearing set for Nov. 27.

A group of anti-Brexit politicians is seeking a ruling that Britain can halt the two-year countdown to Brexit that it triggered in March 2017. The process stipulates that Britain will cease to be an EU member on March 29, 2019.

The British government says it has no intention of reversing Brexit. But anti-Brexit campaigners hope Parliament may have the power to stop the country’s exit from the EU.

BRITAIN-UNEXPLAINED WEALTH

Woman who spent $21M at Harrods bailed, fights extradition

LONDON (AP) — A woman from Azerbaijan whose fortune has been targeted by British authorities under anti-corruption laws has been freed on bail while she battles extradition.

Zamira Hajiyeva is the first person to be subject to an Unexplained Wealth Order, a measure aimed at curbing London’s status as a haven for ill-gotten gains. The orders allow authorities to seize assets from people suspected of corruption until the owners account for how they were acquired.

British authorities want to know how Hajiyeva was able to spend 16 million pounds ($21 million) at luxury London department store Harrods and buy properties worth 22 million pounds ($29 million).

Hajiyeva was arrested last week at Azeri request over alleged embezzlement. A High Court judge ruled Thursday that there were no “substantial grounds” to refuse her bail.

LEGAL MARIJUANA-MASSACHUSETTS-FIRST SALES

After long wait, 1st legal pot shops on East Coast to open

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (AP) — A Massachusetts city with a youthful vibe and eclectic mix of culture is about to be home to the nation’s first legal recreational marijuana sellers east of Colorado.

An existing medical marijuana dispensary in Northampton is opening within days for anyone 21 or older looking for a range of cannabis-infused products.

A second store in the small town of Leicester (LEHS’-tuhr) may also open at or around the same time. Dozens of other retail applicants are awaiting final licensing approval from state regulators.

The initial openings will come two full years after Massachusetts residents backed marijuana legalization. The delays have frustrated would-be businesses and consumers alike.

New England Treatment Access, which operates the Northampton dispensary, anticipates long lines when the store opens and are working with city officials to avoid public safety issues.

TOY HALL OF FAME

Magic 8 Ball, Uno, pinball inducted into Toy Hall of Fame

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) — Magic 8 Ball, Uno and pinball have made it into @the National Toy Hall of Fame.

The three are being inducted Thursday in recognition of their staying power and influence.

The honorees were chosen from a field of 12 finalists that also included American Girl Dolls, chalk, Chutes and Ladders, the Fisher-Price Corn Popper, Masters of the Universe, sled, tic-tac-toe, Tickle Me Elmo and Tudor Electric Football.

This year’s inductees will be on permanent display at the Hall of Fame, located inside The Strong museum in Rochester, alongside 65 previous honorees that include playthings ranging from the stick and cardboard box to Barbie and Lionel Trains.

Anyone can nominate a toy. A panel of experts makes the final selections, considering things such as a toy’s longevity and influence on toy design.

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