Business Highlights

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Coronavirus pandemic claims another victim: Robocalls

NEW YORK (AP) — Have you been missing something amid the lockdowns and stay-at-home orders? No, not human contact. Not even toilet paper. Robocalls. Industry experts say robocalls are down — scam calls as well as nagging from your credit-card company to pay your bill. The coronavirus pandemic has inflicted millions of job losses, and scammers have not been immune. One expert said robocalls from India dropped by half when a pandemic lockdown went into effect. Complaints about unwanted calls are down. But there are still plenty of scams out there, and experts say the robocallers will probably be back in force once shut-down call centers come back online.

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AP-NORC poll: Many in US won’t return to gym or dining out

WASHINGTON (AP) — Much of the country remains unlikely to venture out to bars, restaurants, theaters or gyms anytime soon, despite state and local officials increasingly allowing businesses to reopen. That’s according to a new survey by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Just 42% of those who went to concerts, movies, theaters or sporting events at least monthly before the coronavirus outbreak say they’d do so in the next few weeks if they could. Only about half of those who regularly went to restaurants, exercised at a gym or traveled would go back if they could. That hesitancy could muffle any recovery from the sharpest and swiftest economic downturn in U.S. history. ___

Wall Street ends a choppy day mostly higher; crude oil falls

NEW YORK (AP) — Wall Street shook off a weak start and ended a wobbly day mostly higher. The S&P 500 rose 0.2% Friday, bringing its weekly gain to 3.2%. Crude oil prices fell after notching six straight gains, which weighed on energy stocks. Small-company stocks did more than twice as well as the rest of the market this week, a bullish signal suggesting that investors expect the economy is on the path to recovery. Overseas, Hong Kong’s main index fell 5.6% after China made more moves to limit political opposition in the former British colony. European markets and bond yields were mixed.

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IBM cuts jobs around U.S. as new CEO looks for revival

ARMONK, N.Y. (AP) — IBM says it’s laying off an undisclosed number of workers across the U.S., according to the Wall Street Journal and other reports. IBM representatives didn’t return numerous calls and emails Friday to confirm the job cuts. The already-struggling tech giant’s new CEO Arvind Krishna warned investors last month of uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, saying the company made a “tough decision” to withdraw revenue projections for the rest of 2020. It’s the latest tech company to get hit by the pandemic even amid rising demand for online services. Hewlett Packard Enterprise announced cost cuts Thursday affecting jobs and salaries.

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UK regulators investigating misleading online reviews

LONDON (AP) — Britain’s competition watchdog has launched an investigation into misleading reviews on several big websites amid the surge in online shopping during pandemic lockdown restrictions. The Competition and Markets Authority said Friday it will look into how the websites detect, investigate and respond to fake and misleading reviews. The regulator didn’t disclose which websites it’s investigating. It said one of the issues it’s examining is suspicious activity such as single users reviewing an “unlikely range of products or services.” It’s also looking at how websites deal with reviews that the reviewer has been paid to review.

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Judge nixes bid to stop coal sales that Trump revived

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A judge threw out a lawsuit on Friday from a coalition of states, environmental groups and American Indians which sought to revive an Obama-era moratorium against U.S. government coal sales on public lands in the West. U.S. District Judge Brian Morris said President Donald Trump’s administration had fixed its initial failure to consider the environmental impacts of ending the moratorium. The administration’s opponents had argued it did not look closely enough at climate change and other effects from burning coal when it did an environmental analysis of the government’s coal program.

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Venezuelan high court orders DirecTV property seized

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuela’s high court ordered the immediate seizure of all DirecTV property on Friday, days after the U.S. firm abandoned its services in the South American nation, citing U.S. sanctions. The Supreme Court ruling told the nation’s telecommunications agency to seize satellite dishes and office space at transmission centers. It also said DirecTV programming should immediately return to the airwaves, in an order that was not likely to be heeded. Dallas-based AT&T on Tuesday cut off pay TV services in Venezuela, saying U.S. sanctions prohibit its DirecTV platform from broadcasting channels that it is required to carry by the administration of President Nicolás Maduro.

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The S&P 500 rose 6.94 points, 0.2%, to 2,955.45. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 8.96 points, or less than 0.1%, to 24,465.16. The Nasdaq composite added 39.71 points, or 0.4%, to 9,324.59. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks gained 7.97 points, or 0.6%, to 1,355.53.