Audio overkill? Some question benefits of 'high-res' music

LOS ANGELES (AP) Its backers say it does for music lovers what ultra high-definition television has done for couch potatoes.

It's a digital format that packs nearly seven times the data found on CDs, touted as producing crystal-clear sounds with a sharpness that'll blow consumers away. Advocates like Neil Young and major record labels say the format that's the high end of what's known as "high-resolution" audio restores textures, nuances and tones that listeners sacrifice when opting for the convenience of music compressed into formats like MP3s or Apple's AAC.

But some recording-technology experts say this super high-res format known by its 192 kHz, 24-bit technical specs is pricy digital overkill, an oversized "bit bucket" that contains sounds only dogs or dolphins can truly enjoy.


Chinese stocks drop, but impact in US is seen as limited

NEW YORK (AP) After a sizzling rally that more than doubled the value of China's main stock market over the past year, investors are now heading for the exit.

China's Shanghai Composite plunged more than 7 percent Friday, one of its biggest drops in the last 10 years. The index is down 19 percent since its recent high reached June 12.


Urban transit systems struggle to keep pace as demand grows

BOSTON (AP) Urban planners have long considered public transportation the best remedy for traffic congestion, but many of the nation's largest mass-transit systems simply aren't up to the task.

They lack the money to keep up with basic maintenance, let alone modernize and expand to attract more riders and take pressure off the highways connecting growing cities and suburbs.

Consider Boston, where the oldest American subway system began operating in 1897. During a winter of record-setting snow, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority was often paralyzed, its antiquated equipment overwhelmed by the elements.


Survey: Consumer sentiment up to highest level since January

WASHINGTON (AP) Consumer sentiment rose this month to the highest level since January, suggesting that spending will strengthen this year.

The University of Michigan says its consumer sentiment index rose to 96.1 this month from 90.7 in May. The June reading was the highest since January's 98.1. The index is up from 82.5 a year ago.

For the first six months of 2015, consumer optimism improved at the fastest pace since 2004, three years before the Great Recession, said Richard Curtin, chief economist for the Michigan survey.


Shell heads for Alaska while awaiting final drilling permits

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) One Royal Dutch Shell offshore drill rig is headed to Alaska and a second is poised to leave, despite lacking final federal permits that would allow exploratory drilling and possible confirmation of rich oil reserves under the Chukchi Sea.

A spokesman for Royal Dutch Shell PLC said that's routine. But an attorney for Oceana, one of dozens of groups objecting to Arctic offshore drilling, said seeing Shell's flotilla sail north puts pressure on federal agencies to sign off on the permits.


US opens probe of Ford F-150 power brake failures

DETROIT (AP) U.S. safety regulators are investigating complaints that the power brake assist can fail on some Ford F-150 pickup trucks.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says the probe covers about 250,000 pickups from the 2011 and 2012 model years with 3.5-liter six-cylinder turbocharged engines.

The agency says in documents posted on its website Friday that it has 32 complaints alleging that electric vacuum assist pumps can fail, causing loss of power brakes and increased braking effort in traffic. Two crashes were reported but no injuries.


Macau casino junket figure faces HK money laundering charges

HONG KONG (AP) Hong Kong police charged a prominent figure in Macau's casino junket industry with laundering 1.8 billion Hong Kong dollars ($231 million) through bank accounts in the southern Chinese city.

Cheung Chi-tai is facing three separate counts of money laundering, according to a charge sheet provided Friday by authorities.

The businessman was a major investor in publicly traded Macau junket operator Neptune Group. Police in Hong Kong, an hour's ferry ride from Macau, have been investigating him since November, when they were granted a court order freezing his assets under the Organized and Serious Crimes Ordinance.


You face on your espresso? Highlights from tech show

NEW YORK (AP) Imagine staring deep into the foam of your favorite espresso drink and seeing a face looking back at you. Or how about using the charge in your fingers to clean your teeth?

At the CE Week gadget show in New York this week, there were several standouts amid the sea of smartphone chargers and 3-D printers. Some are set to hit stores near you in the not-too-distant future.


Teed off at Univision, Trump drives dispute off course

NEW YORK (AP) Donald Trump to Univision: Get off my lawn.

Firing back at Univision for its refusal to air his Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants, the outspoken mogul and GOP presidential candidate has barred anyone who works for Univision from the greens of his Miami golf course.

In a letter Friday to Randy Falco, Trump advised the Univision CEO that "under no circumstances is any officer or representative of Univision allowed to use Trump National Doral, Miami its golf courses or any of its facilities."


French president rails against Uber amid taxi tensions

PARIS (AP) France's president wants Uber's cheapest car service shut down and its vehicles seized, but Uber refuses to stop the service until a ruling by the country's top court.

The standoff, and a violence-marred taxi strike that upended Paris travel, reflects larger tensions in France over how to regulate fast-moving technology and stay globally competitive while ensuring labor protections.

France's top security official, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, said Friday that Uber is facing multiple investigations. He spoke to RTL radio a day after striking taxi drivers attacked Uber livery cars and setting fire to tires on a major artery around Paris.


Japan inflation ebbs in May, jobless rate flat

TOKYO (AP) The state of Japan's economic recovery remains murky, with inflation still nearly flat in May despite unprecedented monetary stimulus, though joblessness was flat at 3.3 percent and household spending rose for the first time in over a year.

The data released Friday followed relatively weak indicators recently that have showed softening demand and slowing industrial production. Economists say the world's third-largest economy slowed or possibly contracted in the April-June quarter.


Stock pickers push back against the index-fund wave

CHICAGO (AP) Is it worth it to pay a stock picker when index mutual funds are so cheap?

More investors are saying no, and billions of dollars are jumping onto the index-fund bandwagon by the month. Billions are leaving actively managed mutual funds at the same time. It was against that backdrop that several high-profile stock pickers made their case at the Morningstar Investment Conference in Chicago this week. Two of the conference's main discussion panels addressed whether stock picking is dead, as Morningstar released a report showing that the majority of actively managed stock funds fall short of index-fund peers.


By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average added 56.32 points, or 0.3 percent, to 17,946.68. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 0.82 of a point, or 0.04 percent, to 2,101.49. The Nasdaq composite lost 31.68 points, or 0.6 percent, to 5,080.51.

Benchmark U.S. crude fell 7 cents to close at $59.63 a barrel in New York. It finished last week at $59.61 and it has traded roughly between $57 and $61 since late April. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, rose 6 cents to close at $63.26 in London. Wholesale gasoline rose 1.2 cents to close at $2.049 a gallon. Heating oil rose 0.1 cents to close at $1.863 a gallon. Natural gas fell 7.7 cents to close at $2.773 per 1,000 cubic feet.