Business Highlights


10 years after housing peaked, US is more of a renter nation

MOUNT PLEASANT, South Carolina (AP) — It’s a troublesome story playing out across America in the 10 years since the housing bubble burst: homeowners are thriving while renters are struggling.

Longtime owners are enjoying the benefits of growing equity and reduced mortgage payments from ultra-low rates. But for America’s growing class of renters, surging costs, stagnant pay and rising home values have made it next to impossible to save enough to buy.

Ownership has become a more distant dream for the many Americans who still regard it as a route to prosperity and pride.


US stocks rise as investors grow hopeful about British vote

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks rose sharply on Monday as investors grew more hopeful that Britain will remain in the European Union, letting go of fears that have pulled stocks down in the last two weeks.

Asian stocks traded higher and indexes in Europe soared as the latest opinion polls and betting markets suggest it’s more likely Britain will stay in the EU than leave it. Britons vote on the matter on Thursday.


Nigeria’s currency plummets as naira floats for 1st time

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — Nigeria’s currency plummeted Monday, losing more than 40 per cent of its value as the government floated the naira for the first time in the history of the oil-producing nation.

The move was forced by a spiraling economic crisis and massive shortage of foreign exchange created by slumping oil prices and aggravated by President Muhammadu Buhari’s 16-month-long insistence that the Central Bank defend the naira at a fixed rate of 197 to the dollar. Other oil producers like Angola and Venezuela devalued months ago.


High costs discourage young Alaskans from commercial fishing

SEWARD, Alaska (AP) — Fewer young Alaskans are jumping into commercial fishing. A steep financial commitment, competition for fish, long periods away from home and uncertain fish prices play a part in the reluctance to fish.

In 1985, the average age of an Alaska permit holder was 40. Now it’s 50. Alaska provides more than 55 per cent of U.S. seafood production, and while most Americans don’t care who catches their fish, the “greying of the fleet” is a concern to the state.

Commercial fishing is the economic backbone of rural coastal villages. When young people don’t fish, and precious fishing permits leave, it’s a blow to both village economics and identity.


Newtown families say gun maker should be held accountable

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A gun manufacturer should be held accountable for selling the public semi-automatic rifles that were designed as military killing machines, a lawyer for families of some victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre told a judge Monday.

The argument came during a court hearing on Remington Arms’ request to dismiss a lawsuit by relatives of some of those killed at the Newtown school in 2012, as well as a teacher who survived the shooting. A total of 20 first-graders and six adults were fatally shot with a Bushmaster rifle made by Remington.

Judge Barbara Bellis, who rebuffed a similar request by Remington and other defendants in April, did not rule Monday.


Experimental Zika vaccine to begin human testing

WASHINGTON (AP) — An experimental vaccine for the Zika virus is due to begin human testing in coming weeks, after getting the green light from U.S. health officials.

Inovio Pharmaceuticals said Monday it received clearance from the FDA to begin early-stage safety tests of its DNA-based vaccine. That puts the company ahead of researchers at the National Institutes of Health, who have said they expect to begin testing their own DNA-based Zika vaccine by early fall.

Inovio’s vaccine is intended to prime the immune system to fight Zika by introducing genetically-engineered material that mimics the virus.


High court upholds process for challenging patents

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court on Monday upheld the process for challenging invalid patents, making it easier for companies to fight so-called patent trolls.

The justices were unanimous in backing the legal standard used to cancel patents by a new appeals board at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Congress created the board in 2011 over concerns federal officials were issuing too many patents and fueling the rise of patent trolls — companies that buy up patents and force businesses to pay license fees or face costly litigation.


Former Volkswagen CEO investigated over emissions scandal

BERLIN (AP) — German prosecutors are investigating former Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn and another unnamed executive over allegations they didn’t inform investors soon enough about the company’s scandal over cars rigged to cheat on U.S. diesel emissions tests.

German stock market law requires publicly traded companies to alert investors as soon as they have unforeseen developments that could affect a decision to buy or sell the stock. Prosecutors said that Volkswagen only made that notification on Sept. 22, and that there was evidence that the disclosure obligation should have been fulfilled earlier


Rx pizza: 1 free meal can sway doctor prescribing

CHICAGO (AP) — As little as one free meal from a drug company can influence which medicines doctors prescribe for Medicare patients, according to a study using Medicare records and recently released data from the health care law’s Open Payments program.

The study highlights the subtle ways doctors may feel inclined to prescribe a drug after receiving just a small gift, even if the drug is more costly for patients and their insurance plans.

Researchers calculated that an estimated $73 billion yearly could be saved if equivalent generics were prescribed instead of brand-name drugs, and patients pay for one-third of that excess cost.


China tops global supercomputer speed list for 7th year

BEIJING (AP) — A Chinese supercomputer has topped a list of the world’s fastest computers for the seventh straight year — and for the first time the winner uses only Chinese-designed processors instead of U.S. technology.

The announcement Monday is a new milestone for Chinese supercomputer development and a further erosion of past U.S. dominance of the field.

Supercomputers are one of a series of technologies targeted by China’s ruling Communist Party for development and have received heavy financial support.


The Dow Jones industrial average jumped 129.71 points, or 0.7 per cent, to 17,804.87. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index added 12.03 points, or 0.6 per cent, to 2,083.25. The Nasdaq composite picked up 36.88 points, or 0.8 per cent, to 4,837.21.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose $1.39, or 2.9 per cent, to $49.37 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained $1.48, or 3 per cent, to $50.65 a barrel in London. In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline added 8 cents to $1.58 a gallon. Heating oil edged up 5 cents to $1.53 a gallon. Natural gas rose 12 cents to $2.75 per 1,000 cubic feet.