Business Highlights


Volkswagen has emissions-cheating fix ready

DETROIT (AP) — Volkswagen’s plan to fix most of its 2-litre diesel engines that cheat on emissions tests includes a computer software update and a larger catalytic converter to trap harmful nitrogen oxide, and it may not hurt mileage or performance, according to dealers who were briefed by executives on the matter.

Limited details of the plan were made public last week at a regional dealer meeting in Newark, New Jersey, by Volkswagen of America Chief Operating Officer Mark McNabb, said two dealers who asked not to be identified because the plan hasn’t been made public.

One dealer said the group was told that early testing of a small sample of repaired cars showed that the fix made “no discernable difference” in the cars’ mileage, horsepower or torque. Both dealers said they were told that more testing was needed and that the plans still had to be approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board.


Desperately seeking drivers, Uber and Lyft offer car options

No car? No problem for ride sharing companies like Uber and Lyft.

These companies are offering rentals, leases and financing deals aimed at getting more drivers on the road. After all, the more drivers they sign up, the more rides are available and the more money they make. But critics say drivers are paying high and even predatory prices.

The deals have also caught some regulators’ attention. The California Public Utilities Commission is probing whether some of these leasing and renting arrangements run afoul of its requirement that ride share drivers use a “personal vehicle.”


The post-Ailes Fox News may have bigger problems

NEW YORK (AP) — Roger Ailes built the Fox News Channel into a ratings juggernaut, one that successfully presented a conservative alternative to mainstream news and garnered a large new audience in the Age of Trump.

But you don’t have to look too far down the road to see big challenges that have nothing to do with Ailes’ untimely departure.

While Fox has been the top-rated U.S. cable-news channel for 14 years, overall cable news audiences have been shrinking outside of presidential elections. More than half of Fox’s viewers are over 65, says data tracker Nielsen, compared to just 15 per cent of Americans as a whole. They’re also more conservative than the general public, at a time when younger generations are trending more liberal, according to Pew. And it’s lagging in the digital efforts that many analysts consider key to attracting young people.


How ‘Pokemon Go’ went from prank to phenomenon

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The origin of “Pokemon Go” is as peculiar as any of the Voltorbs or Snorlaxes that players track and capture in the surprise hit game.

Its hybrid DNA flows from a digital mapping pioneer’s fascination with the world around him, Google’s affinity for offbeat ideas, Nintendo’s comeback quest and a 20-year-old menagerie of animated monsters so popular that it spawned a company just to be its talent agency.

Then all it took was a prank to hatch a mobile video game that has turned into a cultural phenomenon.


IMF head calls for quick end to Brexit uncertainty

BEIJING (AP) — The head of the International Monetary Fund called Friday for quick action to end uncertainty over Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, which she said is dampening global economic growth.

The IMF cut this year’s global growth forecast by 0.1 percentage points to 3.1 per cent in a report released this week due to the shockwaves of the British vote.

Investors are watching this weekend’s meeting of the G20 and finance officials for any sign the United States, Germany, China and other major economies may agree on joint action to accelerate a weak global economic recovery.


18 states see significant job gains, but unemployment rises

WASHINGTON (AP) — Unemployment rates ticked up noticeably in six states in June, even as employers continued to add jobs and the hiring outlook improved.

The unemployment rate in 21 states is now significantly below the national figure of 4.9 per cent, while it’s higher in 14 states. In Colorado, the rate jumped 0.4 point from May to a still-low 3.7 per cent as more of its population began looking for work without being hired, a positive for the economy as it suggests greater optimism that these people will find jobs.

Employers added a significant number of jobs in 18 states last month, while three states lost a meaningful level of jobs. This also matches the national figures that showed an increase of 287,000 jobs in June, after lacklustre hiring in April and May.


US home rental price growth pulls even with wages

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. renters are seeing their housing costs rise at a much more manageable pace, as new construction has tempered years of runaway increases in rent.

Real estate data firm Zillow says that median rent rose a seasonally adjusted 2.6 per cent in June from a year ago, matching the gains in average hourly wages. Rental costs have decelerated after consistently exceeding earnings growth in previous years, a sign that additional building is giving more options.

The median monthly rent nationwide was $1,409. Annual increases in rent surpassed 9 per cent in both the Seattle and Portland, Oregon areas, although it has moderated in markets such as San Francisco, where yearly price growth went from double-digit gains to 7.4 per cent.


Another creep higher sends S&P 500 to record high, again

NEW YORK (AP) — Another day, another lazy creep higher for stocks and another record high.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 9.84 points, or 0.5 per cent, to 2,175.01 on Friday. It surpassed its prior record set Wednesday by 0.09 per cent, the latest nudge higher for a market that has taken a decidedly slow-and-steady path to all-time highs in recent weeks. Telecom and utility stocks led the way, as they have for much of this year.


Boom times for airlines: $3.9 billion in 2Q profits

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Compared with their checkered track record, major airlines are enjoying boom times.

Planes are full, and jet fuel is still much cheaper than it was last year. The four biggest U.S. carriers just reported a collective second-quarter profit of $3.9 billion.

And yet investors seem to be looking past the bottom line. They have become obsessed with fare prices — falling now for more than a year — that may foreshadow thinner profits in the future.


Fortune, friction and decline as casino ‘Chinatown’ matures

UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) — No ornate archway marks it. No obvious business district with exotic signs and storefronts sets it apart. But in the quiet neighbourhoods around two of the nation’s largest casinos, a sort of suburban Chinatown has been growing for over a decade.

Drawn from New York and Boston by good-paying jobs at the Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods resorts, Chinese and other Asian immigrants have been buying homes, raising families and growing their own food in what had once been largely white communities along Connecticut’s Thames River.

The influx has caused tension with some locals, who complain about too many people crammed into single-family homes and of front lawns in manicured neighbourhoods turned into miniature farms to feed large families.


The Dow Jones industrial average rose 53.62 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 18,570.85. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 9.86 points, or 0.5 per cent, to 2,175.03. The Nasdaq composite rose 26.26, or 0.5 per cent, to 5,100.16

The price of U.S. crude fell 56 cents to settle at $44.19 a barrel. Brent crude, the global benchmark, fell 51 cents, or 1.1 per cent, to $45.69 a barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline rose 1 cent to $1.36 a gallon, heating oil fell 1 cent to $1.36 a gallon and natural gas rose 9 cents to $2.78 per 1,000 cubic feet.