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Ride-hailing apps get kids around town when parents are busy

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) A ride-hailing service that caters to youngsters is allowing them to book their own rides when mom and dad are too busy to drive.

Shuddle is one of a number of new companies that provide rides to 8- to 16-year-old kids who need to get to school, a sporting event or a social activity. On Tuesday, it introduced ShuddleMe, an app that lets the kids book the ride themselves within an hour of when the service is needed.

Before this, parents had to arrange for the car, and do so at least a day in advance. ShuddleMe still requires parental approval.

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Study: Home efficiency upgrades fall short, don't pay

NEW YORK (AP) Home efficiency measures such as installing new windows or replacing insulation deliver such a small fraction of their promised energy savings that they may not save any money over the long run, according to the surprising conclusion of a University of Chicago study.

The study, which used data from a random sample of 30,000 low-income Michigan households that were eligible for an Energy Department home weatherization program, found that the projected energy savings were 2.5 times greater than actual savings. As a result, energy bills didn't decline nearly enough to eventually pay for the initial cost of the upgrades.

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Big retailers feel pressure on Confederate flag merchandise

Even as national retailers pull Confederate flags from shelves and websites after the shooting deaths of nine black church members in South Carolina, manufacturers that produce the divisive symbol say that sales are now surging.

Kerry McCoy, owner and president of Arkansas' FlagandBanner.com, said her company expects to sell about 50 of the flags over the next week. That's about half of what they typically sell in a year.

Amazon, Sears, eBay and Etsy said Tuesday that they would remove Confederate flag merchandise from their websites. Sears does not sell the merchandise inside Sears or Kmart stores. The wave of merchandise bans came a day after Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said that it would remove all Confederate-themed items from its store shelves and website after the South Carolina shooting suspect, Dylann Storm Roof, appeared in photos holding the flag.

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Senators: Safety agency must shape up to get more funding

WASHINGTON (AP) Senators threatened Tuesday to withhold additional funding from the nation's top auto safety agency until it improves its ability to spot defective parts like Takata Corp.'s exploding air bags.

The Senate Commerce Committee met to grill Takata on its ongoing recall of 33.8 million air bags, the largest recall in U.S. history. At least eight people have been killed and 100 injured by the air bags, which can explode with too much force and spew shrapnel into the vehicle. The problem has persisted for more than a decade and impacts 11 automakers, including Honda, BMW and Toyota.

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Facebook now worth more than Wal-Mart on stock market

NEW YORK (AP) Facebook is now bigger than Wal-Mart, at least when it comes to its value on the stock market.

The world's biggest online social network knocked the world's largest retailer out of the top 10 list of the highest-valued companies in the Standard & Poor's 500 index on Monday and the gap widened on Tuesday.

While the switch is mostly symbolic nothing specific happened this week to warrant it, and the difference between the two giants is not that big it signals investors' insatiable appetite for successful tech stocks. Apple, Microsoft and Google top the list of the highest-valued companies in the U.S., and Facebook looks to be on its way to joining them.

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Chinese retail spreads in Uganda amid local jealousy

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) The last time men posing as immigration officials showed up at Wei Kun's shoe store in the Ugandan capital of Kampala, the Chinese trader forked out $1,000 in bribes to prevent his business from being shuttered.

Yet Kun's perseverance in the face of such obstacles, including the rising hostility toward local merchants, is a measure of how profitable it is for Chinese merchants to run small businesses in Uganda and the rest of Africa. Over the past 10 years, Chinese industrial giants have invested billions across Africa, and there has been an accompanying explosion of petty retailers opening small shops from Senegal in the west to Algeria in the north, Zimbabwe in the south and Uganda in the east.

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US new-home sales in May climb to best levels since 2008

WASHINGTON (AP) Purchases of new U.S. homes surged in the Northeast and West in May, as steady job growth over the past year has lifted the real estate sector.

The Commerce Department said Tuesday that new-home sales rose 2.2 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 546,000, the strongest pace since February 2008.

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Durable goods orders retreat again in May

WASHINGTON (AP) Orders to U.S. factories for long-lasting manufactured goods fell in May, pulled down by a sharp drop in demand for aircraft. But a category that reflects business investment rose last month, a hopeful sign for manufacturing.

The Commerce Department said Tuesday that total orders for durable goods dropped 1.8 percent in May after falling 1.5 percent in April. Last month's drop was caused in part by a 35.3 percent plunge in orders for aircraft, which is often a volatile category.

Excluding transportation, orders rose 0.5 percent. Durable goods are items meant to last at least three years, such as cars, home appliances and furniture.

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Fastest rising rents in US? Jackson, Mississippi

WASHINGTON (AP) Home rental prices are climbing across much of the United States with the biggest gains coming from not from New York or San Francisco but Jackson, Mississippi, and Portland, Maine.

Real estate data firm Zillow said Tuesday that prices nationally climbed a seasonally adjusted 4.3 percent in May from a year ago. Rents still are rising at double-digit rates in Denver, San Francisco and San Jose, California, with their job opportunities drawing new residents at a faster pace than construction can match.

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Senate vote moves Obama's trade agenda to brink of enactment

WASHINGTON (AP) President Barack Obama's long-pursued trade agenda took a giant step toward becoming law on Tuesday, and opponents grudgingly conceded they now must fight on less-favorable terrain.

A key Senate vote greatly brightened Obama's hopes for a 12-nation Pacific rim trade agreement, a keystone of his effort to expand U.S. influence in Asia. The trade pact would be a high point in a foreign policy that has otherwise been consumed by crisis management, and would give Obama a rare legislative achievement in the Republican-controlled Congress.

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Apple's decision to pay artists a win for indies, Swift

NEW YORK (AP) Independent record label founder Allen Kovac had planned to remove the music by his artists from iTunes a week ahead of the launch of Apple Music.

Kovac, whose labels are home to performers ranging from Motley Crue to Blondie, changed his mind Monday after Apple decided it would pay artists during its free, three-month trial. That about-face came after Taylor Swift called for artists to be paid properly.

Her actions praised by indie acts marked a winning moment for independent record labels, who often fall into the shadow of major labels.

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Netflix to execute 7-for-1 stock split next month

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Netflix will execute a seven-for-one stock split next month in a widely anticipated move designed to make the Internet video service's shares more affordable to a bigger pool of investors.

The split has been expected since Netflix stockholders voted two weeks ago to authorize the Los Gatos, California, company to substantially increase the number of its outstanding shares. Netflix Inc. hadn't specified the size or timing of the split until Tuesday.

The split will award six additional shares for every share held by Netflix stockholders as of July 2.

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Greece defends 'harsh' reforms it promised creditors

ATHENS, Greece (AP) Greece's government on Tuesday defended the billions worth of "harsh" new budget savings it has offered in talks with creditors, as some of the governing party's own lawmakers spoke out against them.

Greece has proposed measures worth 8 billion euros ($9 billion), including increases to company and consumer taxes, to persuade the country's bailout creditors to release new loans it needs to avoid defaulting on its debts next week.

A decision is expected this week: eurozone finance ministers are to meet Wednesday evening, followed by a European Union summit Thursday and Friday.

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average added 24.29 points, or 0.1 percent, to 18,144.07. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 1.35 points, or 0.06 percent, to 2,124.20. The Nasdaq gained 6.12 points, or 0.1 percent, to 5,160.09.

Benchmark U.S. crude for August delivery rose 63 cents to close at $61.01 a barrel in New York. The contract for U.S. crude for July delivery expired Monday at $59.68. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, rose $1.11 to close at $64.45 in London. Wholesale gasoline rose 4.7 cents to close at $2.077 a gallon. Heating oil rose 4.2 cents to close at $1.911 a gallon. Natural gas fell 0.7 cents to close at $2.726 per 1,000 cubic feet.