Business Highlights

Updated at: 07/15/2016 10:08 AM
By The Associated Press

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UK stock index above pre-vote level: Crisis over? Not likely

LONDON (AP) — Britain's main stock market has rebounded to its pre-Brexit vote levels that does not mean all is now fine for the country's economy.

The index is dominated by multinationals that do not reflect the national economy, which the Bank of England's chief said Thursday would need more monetary stimulus after the vote plunged Britain into an existential crisis and opened up new uncertainties for businesses.

"The bank has identified the clouds on the horizon," Mark Carney said in a speech. "The economic outlook has deteriorated and some monetary policy easing will likely be required over the summer."

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Nuts to that; Hershey rejects kiss from chocolate competitor

NEW YORK (AP) — Hershey on Thursday rejected a takeover offer from Oreo maker Mondelez that would bring some of the world's best known cookies and chocolates under one company.

It confirmed receiving a preliminary offer from Mondelez for a mix of cash and stock totaling $107 for each share of Hershey Co. common stock. That would value the deal at roughly $22.3 billion, according to FactSet.

Hershey said that, following a review, its board determined the offer provided "no basis for further discussion." A deal would be subject to approval by the Hershey Trust, a controlling shareholder.

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US stock indexes extend rally to a 3rd day

Investors remained in a buying mood Thursday, driving U.S. stocks broadly higher for the third day in a row.

The latest gains added to the market's rebound from the brief, but steep slump that followed Britain's vote to leave the European Union a week ago.

While the rally suggests that traders' anxiety over Britain's departure from the EU have eased, a surge in U.S. bond prices Thursday signaled many investors remain cautious about the possible long-term implications. As bond prices rose, the yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.47 percent.

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Claims for unemployment aid rise but remain at low level

WASHINGTON (AP) — More Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, but the level of jobless claims remains low enough to suggest that most workers enjoy job security.

The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly U.S. applications rose by 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 268,000 in the week that ended June 25. The 4-week average, which is less volatile, was unchanged at 267,000.

Unemployment claims are a proxy for layoffs. They have remained below 300,000 for 69 straight weeks, longest such streak since 1973. But hiring has slowed this spring. Employers added just 38,000 jobs last month, the fewest in more than five years.

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Average US 30-year mortgage falls to 3.48 percent

WASHINGTON (AP) — Long-term U.S. mortgage rates slid to new lows for the year this week amid market upheaval stoked by Britain's vote to leave the European Union. Rates are at three-year lows at the height of the spring home buying season.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to 3.48 percent from 3.56 percent last week. The benchmark rate is down sharply from 4.08 percent a year ago, and close to its all-time low of 3.31 percent in November 2012.

The average for the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage declined to 2.78 percent from 2.83 percent last week.

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EU opens probe of global beer giant AB InBev

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union opened an investigation Thursday into global beer giant AB InBev to determine if it has abused its dominant position in Belgium by hindering cheaper imports of its products from neighboring countries.

EU officials said there are suspicions the company, based in Leuven, Belgium, may be pursuing a deliberate strategy to block imports of its beer from less expensive countries, including France and the Netherlands, to the pricier Belgian market.

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Self-driving car driver killed in Florida collision, a first

WASHINGTON (AP) — The first U.S. self-driving car fatality took place in May when the driver of a Tesla S sports car using the vehicle's "autopilot" automated driving system died in a collision with a truck in Florida, federal officials said Thursday.

The government is investigating the design and performance of Tesla's system.

Preliminary reports indicate the crash occurred when a tractor-trailer rig made a left turn in front of the Tesla.

Tesla said "extremely rare circumstances" led to the collision and said the accident led to the first known death in over 130 million miles of autopilot operation.

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Suicide by job: Farmers, lumberjacks, fisherman top list

NEW YORK (AP) — Farmers, lumberjacks and fishermen kill themselves most often among workers in the U.S., according to a large new study that shows enormous differences of suicide rates across jobs.

Researchers found the highest suicide rates in manual laborers who work in isolation and face unsteady employment. he lowest rate was in teachers, educators and librarians.

The report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is perhaps the largest U.S. study on the matter but is not comprehensive. It only covers 17 states, looking at about 12,300 of the more than 40,000 suicide deaths reported in the entire nation in 2012.

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Government urges owners of old Hondas to get air bags fixed

DETROIT (AP) — The U.S. government is urging owners of 313,000 older Hondas and Acuras to stop driving them and get them repaired after new tests found that their Takata air bag inflators are extremely dangerous.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Thursday that it has data showing that chances are as high as 50 percent that the inflators can explode in a crash, injuring people by sending metal shrapnel into the passenger compartments.

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said the vehicles are unsafe and need to be repaired immediately.

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Lions Gate to buy cable channel Starz in $4.4 billion deal

NEW YORK (AP) — Film and TV studio Lions Gate is buying cable channel operator Starz in a deal worth $4.4 billion.

Lions Gate is the company behind "The Hunger Games" movies and the "Orange Is The New Black" TV series. Starz runs its namesake cable channel, as well as Starz Encore and MoviePlex. Together, Lions Gate said it can tap its library of movies and TV shows and air them through Starz's channels.

The deal is expected to close by the end of the year.

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Obama quickly signs Puerto Rico financial rescue bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama signed a rescue package on Thursday for financially strapped Puerto Rico, which is facing more than $70 billion in debt and a major payment due Friday.

Obama signed the bill hours after it won final passage in the Senate. Obama said there is still tough work to do to get Puerto Rico out of the hole that it's in.

But he said the bill is an "important first step on the path of creating more stability, better services and greater prosperity over the long term for the people of Puerto Rico."

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The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 235.31 points, or 1.3 percent, to 17,929.99. The Standard & Poor's 500 gained 28.09 points, or 1.4 percent, to 2,098.86. The Nasdaq composite added 63.43 points, or 1.3 percent, to 4,842.67.

Benchmark U.S. crude fell $1.55, or 3.1 percent, to close at $48.33 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, slid 93 cents, or 1.8 percent, to close at $49.68 a barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline fell 2 cents to $1.50 a gallon, while heating oil shed 5 cents to $1.48 a gallon. Natural gas rose 6 cents to $2.92 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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