NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are slightly higher in midday trading on Wall Street as technology companies rally. Microsoft climbed as traders welcomed the software giant’s decision to boost its quarterly dividend and approve a $40 billion stock buyback.
Health care and communications services stocks also notched solid gains. Energy stocks lagged, after rallying earlier in the week as crude oil prices soared.
U.S. Steel dropped after it warned investors that its third quarter loss will be wider than anticipated.
Bond prices fell, pushing up the yield on the 10-year Treasury to 1.79% from 1.78% late Wednesday. The rise in bond yields helped lift financial sector stocks.
Mortgage rates boost US home sales 1.3% in August
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. home sales rose 1.3% in August to the highest level in 17 months, as mortgage rates near historic lows have spurred a rush of home-buying.
The National Association of Realtors says homes sold last month at a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 5.49 million units, the best performance since March 2018. Sales have increased 2.6% from a year ago. Cheaper borrowing costs have increased affordability for buyers, but they have also led to higher prices as there is a shortage of properties for sale.
The median sales price climbed 4.7% from a year ago to $278,200, outpacing average wage gains.
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. long-term mortgage rates shot up this week, yet they stayed close to the historic lows that appear to be helping the real estate market.
Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the average rate on the 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage increased to 3.73% from 3.56% last week. The rate averaged 4.65% a year ago, when the higher government debt from President Donald Trump’s tax cuts enabled borrowing costs to rise. But as the economic outlook has become less certain, the Federal Reserve has cut interest rates and borrowing costs have tumbled in ways that are generally aiding homebuyers.
The average rate for 15-year, fixed-rate home loans climbed to 3.21% from 3.09% last week.
France floats tariffs on US goods amid Airbus-Boeing dispute
PARIS (AP) — France’s finance minister says Europe is ready to impose retaliatory tariffs next year on U.S. goods as part of a long-running dispute over subsidies to plane makers Airbus and Boeing.
Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told reporters Thursday that “trade wars are good for no one,” noting damage caused worldwide by the U.S.-China trade conflict.
But he said Europe is bracing for possible U.S. sanctions over the plane subsidy dispute, and that “Americans should know that we are ready to react.”
He said he’s pushing for a “friendly agreement” with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lightizer.
The World Trade Organization ruled in May that Europe illegally subsidized Airbus, hurting U.S. competitor Boeing. The European Union has brought a similar case at the WTO accusing the U.S. government of illegally subsidizing Boeing.
President Trump says Fed Chair Powell’s job is ‘safe’
WASHINGTON (AP) — Despite all of his attacks on the Federal Reserve, President Donald Trump says Chairman Jerome Powell’s job is safe.
Asked in an interview with Fox News if Powell’s job was safe, Trump says, “It’s safe. Yes, it’s safe. I mean, sure, why not.”
In the interview broadcast Thursday, Trump did keep up his criticism of Powell and the Fed, saying they raised interest rates too quickly last year and were cutting rates too slowly this year. The president noted that while some people had hoped for a half-percentage point cut in rates on Wednesday, the Fed cut rates by only a quarter-point.
After the rate cut was announced Wednesday, Trump tweeted, “Jay Powell and the Federal Reserve Fail Again. No ‘guts,’ no sense. No vision! A terrible communicator.”
Labor nominee Eugene Scalia cites ‘public trust’
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s pick to lead the Labor Department tells a Senate committee that his years of work as an attorney for corporate clients won’t influence his actions as a senior government official.
In remarks Thursday to the Republican-led Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Eugene Scalia (skuh-LEE’-uh) recalled his previous service as the Labor Department’s top lawyer during the George W. Bush administration. Then, as now, Scalia says he was coming to the department from the private sector, where he advised and represented businesses on employment matters.
Scalia says once at the Labor Department he “had new clients, new responsibilities and a public trust.”
Scalia’s nomination is opposed by the AFL-CIO. The labor federation has described him as a union-busting lawyer who has eroded labor rights and consumer protections.
Airbnb says it will go public in 2020
NEW YORK (AP) — Home-sharing company Airbnb Inc. says it plans to go public in 2020.
It’s a long-awaited move for the company, which was founded in 2008 in San Francisco.
Airbnb is one of the largest home-sharing platforms. It has more than 7 million listings in 100,000 cities worldwide.
Airbnb said earlier this week it made $1 billion in revenue in the second quarter of this year. It didn’t reveal its profits.
Huawei launches new phone with own version of Android
MUNICH (AP) — Huawei is launching a new flagship smartphone that will run on the Chinese tech giant’s own version of Google’s Android operating system because of U.S. export sanctions.
The Chinese tech giant unveiled the Mate 30 series of phones at an event in Munich, Germany on Thursday.
The device wasn’t expected to come with popular Google apps such as Chrome, YouTube, Gmail or the Google Play Store, limiting its appeal to consumers.
Huawei, the world’s second-biggest smartphone maker, is fighting to save its business after the Trump administration blocked access to U.S. components and technology in May on national security grounds.
Washington has issued temporary exemptions that let Huawei maintain software for existing devices, but they don’t cover new products such as the Mate 30.
Facebook CEO visits Washington amid push for tech oversight
WASHINGTON (AP) — Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is visiting Washington to discuss potential regulation of the tech industry with lawmakers, particularly when it comes to the collection of users’ personal data on their platforms.
Congress has been debating a privacy law that could curtail the ability of companies like Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple to collect and make money off users’ personal data. A national law, which would be the first of its kind in the U.S., could allow people to see or prohibit use of their data.
Zuckerberg last spring called for tighter regulations to protect consumers’ data, control harmful online content, and ensure election integrity and data portability.
Facebook, a social media giant with nearly 2.5 billion users, is under heavy scrutiny from lawmakers and regulators for its business practices.
How to navigate new privacy features in Apple iPhone update
NEW YORK (AP) — Apple’s iOS 13 software update comes with plenty of privacy enhancements.
For instance, you’ll be able to sign in to third-party services with your Apple ID account rather than Facebook’s or Google’s. This reduces Facebook’s and Google’s ability to track you while you’re using third-party apps. Apple promises not to track you itself.
You’ll also get more notices and warnings about apps tapping location data. This includes an “allow once” option so you can try out an app before giving it longer-term access.
The free update is available for existing iPhones on Thursday and will ship with the new iPhone 11 models out Friday.
Dominion Energy plans 220 turbine offshore wind project
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Dominion Energy wants to build what it says would be the largest offshore wind project in the United States off the Virginia coast.
The company told The Associated Press ahead of a public announcement Thursday that it is seeking regulatory approval to build about 220 wind turbines in federal waters it has already leased 27 miles off Virginia Beach.
Dominion says the approximately $7.8 billion project would produce more than 2,600 megawatts of wind energy by 2026, enough to power 650,000 homes. The company says that early cost estimate is expected to fall.
Dominion currently has a two turbine pilot project underway. It says ocean survey work could begin on the commercial-scale project next year.
The company says the project is part of its commitment to increase the amount of power generation from renewable resources.
^ELECTRIC CAR CHARGING STATIONS-FPL
FPL to install 1,000 electric car charging stations
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Florida Power & Light plans to install 1,000 electric-charging stations at 100 locations across the state.
The utility’s announcement Wednesday says the stations would be located on major roadways, public parks, shopping malls, tourist destinations and at major employers, such as Office Depot in Boca Raton.
The company’s chargers are universal, compatible with all electric cars, as well as plug-in hybrids.
Plans call for Amazon operations at Pontiac Silverdome site
PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) — Online retail giant Amazon has proposed using the site of the former home of the Detroit Lions as a distribution center in a $250 million project that could bring 1,500 jobs.
Details of plans for the Pontiac Silverdome site in suburban Detroit were made public Wednesday night.
The city says its planning commission approved a permit for the site to be used as a warehouse, distribution and fulfillment campus. Pontiac says Seattle-based Amazon would lease buildings from a developer. Plans call for Amazon to start operating at the site as soon as next year.
The Lions played at the Silverdome from 1975-2001. It also was the home of the NBA’s Detroit Pistons and hosted the Super Bowl in 1982. The Silverdome was taken down with a partial implosion in 2017.