Why Friday's US jobs report could affect Americans' finances
WASHINGTON (AP) — With the Federal Reserve edging into the spotlight, Friday's jobs report for August could trigger eventual changes in Americans' financial lives.
That's because a healthy job gain would provide one of the final pieces of evidence the Fed needs to start raising interest rates from record lows on Sept. 17, which many economists expect it to do.
It would also send a reassuring signal that global stock-market turmoil and China's slowdown have yet to seriously jar the U.S. economy.
Labor Day drivers to enjoy lowest gasoline prices since 2004
NEW YORK (AP) — It has been more than a decade since U.S. drivers paid so little to fuel up for that last road trip of summer.
The national average price of gasoline this Labor Day weekend will be its lowest at this time of year since 2004, a result of low oil prices and a quiet hurricane season that has allowed refineries to churn out gasoline and diesel.
The national average price of gasoline fell to $2.44 Thursday, nearly $1 a gallon cheaper than last year.
Apple, Google bring smartphone functions to car dashboards
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Playing deejay with voice commands will get easier for more Americans this fall as some best-selling cars get updated with software that integrates smartphones into the dashboard.
With the 2016 model year, Apple's CarPlay and Google's Android Auto will turn cars as affordable as a base model Chevy Spark into rolling robotic assistants that give directions to nearby restaurants or play the latest hits with commands as simple as "Play Ellie Goulding."
The Associated Press recently tried out both systems on a 2016 Honda Accord. As with phones, voice-activated car technologies don't always work as intended, bringing up inaccurate directions or failing to open an app, for example. But overall the two systems are convenient and incredibly intuitive.
US small businesses feel mixed impact from China's economy
NEW YORK (AP) — China's economic problems have been a windfall for some U.S. small businesses — and pose a threat to others.
A nearly 40 percent plunge in the Shanghai stock market since mid-June, a response to the country's weakening economy, has sent Chinese investors looking for safer investments.
Some are focusing on U.S. real estate, including the condos Peggy Fucci's real estate brokerage sells in Miami. She's sold six condos to Chinese buyers in the past month, twice what she's typically sold in that amount of time.
Big cities scramble to be prepared for an oil train disaster
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — They rumble past schools, homes and businesses in dozens of cities around the country — 100-car trains loaded with crude oil from the Upper Midwest.
While railroads have long carried hazardous materials through congested urban areas, cities are now scrambling to formulate emergency plans and to train firefighters amid the latest safety threat: a fiftyfold increase in crude shipments that critics say has put millions of people living or working near the tracks at heightened risk of derailment, fire and explosion.
Students ask Education Department to discharge college debt
WASHINGTON (AP) — More than 3,000 former Corinthian College students will have their college loans erased, the first wave of debt relief tied to the collapse of the for-profit higher education chain. The potential cost to taxpayers if all Corinthian students seek relief: $3.2 billion.
So far, almost 12,000 students have asked the federal government to discharge their college loan debt, asserting that their school either closed or lied to them about job prospects, according to a report released Thursday by the Education Department.
Samsung, others seek piece of nascent smartwatch market
NEW YORK (AP) — Samsung and other tech companies showcased new computerized wristwatches this week — all aimed at challenging Apple, a relative newcomer to selling smartwatches.
Apple Watch was the leading smartwatch in the second quarter, with an estimated 4 million shipped worldwide, for a market share of more than 75 percent, according to Strategy Analytics. Samsung was a distant second with 400,000 shipped and a 7.5 percent market share.
However, the market is still nascent, and Apple Watch isn't an option for people who use Android smartphones.
Judge approves $415M settlement in Apple, Google wage case
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A federal judge has approved a $415 million settlement that ends a lengthy legal saga revolving around allegations that Apple, Google and several other Silicon Valley companies illegally conspired to prevent their workers from getting better job offers.
The settlement of a class-action lawsuit will pay more than 64,000 technology workers about $5,800 apiece. The complaint, filed in 2011, originally sought $3 billion in damages that could have been tripled under U.S. antitrust law. Based on that figure, the workers could have received more than $100,000 apiece if they prevailed at trial.
Applications for US jobless aid rise to still-low 282,000
WASHINGTON (AP) — More Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, but applications remain at historically near low levels in a positive sign for the U.S. economy amid a broader global slowdown.
The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly applications for unemployment aid rose 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 282,000. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, increased 3,250 to 275,500. That average has fallen 9.2 percent over the past 12 months.
The report points to the resilience of the U.S. economy as international pressures are dampening growth. Employers have largely kept their staffs intact, as applications for jobless benefits, a proxy for layoffs, have remained near 15-year lows for the past several months.
General Mills selling Green Giant, Le Sueur for $765M
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — General Mills is selling its Green Giant and Le Sueur vegetable businesses to B&G Foods Inc. for about $765 million in cash.
The company has been trying to adapt to shifting U.S. tastes, including a move away from many packaged foods, as frozen foods sales decline and people shift to traditional "blocks" of frozen vegetables, which cost less than the vegetable blends and packages with sauces that Green Giant makes.
General Mills is shifting its focus to cereal and yogurt, as well as driving sales for its small but growing organic and natural foods segment.
US trade deficit drops to $41.9 billion in July
WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. trade deficit fell in July to the lowest level in five months as exports posted a small gain while imports declined, reflecting a big drop in shipments of consumer goods such as cellphones.
The deficit narrowed to $41.9 billion in July, a 7.4 percent decline from a June imbalance of $45.2 billion, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. Exports were up a small 0.4 percent to $188.5 billion, helped by stronger sales of U.S.-made autos and machinery, while imports declined 1.1 percent to $230.4 billion.
By The Associated Press=
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 23.38 points, or 0.1 percent, to 16,374.76. The Standard & Poor's 500 index added 2.27 points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,951.13. The Nasdaq composite fell 16.48 points, or 0.4 percent, to 4,733.50.
U.S. crude rose 50 cents to close at $46.75 in New York. Brent Crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, rose 18 cents to close at $50.68 in London. Wholesale gasoline rose 1.2 cents to close at $1.437 a gallon. Heating oil rose 1 cent to close at $1.619 a gallon. Natural gas rose 7.7 cents to close at $2.725 per 1,000 cubic feet.