Business Highlights

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US consumer spending rose a moderate 1.9% in July

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. consumers increased their spending by 1.9% last month, a dose of support for an economy struggling to emerge from the grip of a pandemic that has held back a recovery and kept roughly 27 million people jobless. The July gain marked the third straight monthly increase in consumer spending, the primary driver of the U.S. economy. Friday’s report from the Commerce Department also showed that income rose 0.4% in July after two months of declines. The consumer spending report arrives amid a hazy economic landscape, with high unemployment, struggling businesses and deep uncertainty about when the health crisis will be solved and when people and companies will feel confident enough to spend and hire normally again.

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In a week of layoffs in the US, MGM Resorts adds 18,000 more

LAS VEGAS (AP) — MGM Resorts is laying off 18,000 people as an unchecked pandemic leaves economic scars across a broad swath of U.S. industries, particularly those that rely on healthy crowds of people. The layoffs at MGM caps a wave of job cuts and buyouts this week across a broad array of industries. Economists warn that sizable layoffs will continue and any recovery is likely to falter as long as the virus rages and Congress doesn’t come up with additional financial aid for the unemployed, as well as desperate state and local governments.

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Mercedes gets big electric van order from Amazon

BERLIN (AP) — Amazon says it’s buying 1,800 electric delivery vans from Mercedes-Benz, the biggest such order for the German automaker to date. Mercedes said Friday it will also join a climate initiative established by Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos, committing itself to going completely carbon neutral by 2039. The transport sector, including the surge in deliveries from online retailers like Amazon, is a major source of man-made carbon emissions blamed for climate change. Amazon’s order with Mercedes is dwarfed by a contract it signed last year with U.S. start-up Rivian to deliver 100,000 electric delivery vans by 2030. Daimler said the order comprises more than 1,200 large eSprinter vans and about 600 medium-sized eVito vehicles. Delivery will begin later this year.

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Small businesses in college towns struggle without students

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Small business owners in college towns across the U.S. are hoping for the best when students return — and bracing for the worst. That includes the owners of the bars, restaurants and other retailers on South University Avenue near the University of Michigan, which have been hit hard financially since the COVID-19 pandemic sent tens of thousands of their customers back home in mid-March. Those that have been able to withstand the exodus thus far are praying they can hang on long enough to still be standing when business as usual resumes and are scrambling for new strategies.

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S&P 500 rises to close out longest weekly win streak of 2020

NEW YORK (AP) — More gains for stocks Friday gave the S&P 500 its fifth straight winning week. That’s the longest weekly winning streak for the benchmark index since December, before the coronavirus pandemic swept the world and sent economies tumbling into recession. The S&P 500 rose 0.7%, bringing its weekly gain to 3.3%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average clawed back to a small gain for 2020. The Nasdaq has left both those indexes in the dust with a jump of 30% so far this year, thanks to big gains for technology stocks. A report on Friday showed that U.S. consumer spending grew more in July than economists expected.

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UK presses hard to get more workers back into the office

LONDON (AP) — The British government is encouraging workers to return to their offices amid concern that the number of people working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic is hurting coffee bars and restaurants and turning city centers into “ghost towns.” The government plans to roll out a campaign to encourage employers to highlight the efforts they’ve made to protect staff from the virus. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said Friday it’s the right time to return to work because children will be going back to school next week. He also said prolonged isolation from friends and colleagues is taking a toll on mental health. Still, many people are concerned because daily infections are rising and because Britain has Europe’s worst virus death toll.

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France won’t ban Huawei but favors European 5G systems

PARIS (AP) — French President Emmanuel Macron says France is not excluding China’s Huawei from its upcoming 5G telecoms networks but favors European providers for security reasons. The French leader said he told the Chinese president about his preference for European providers such as Ericsson and Nokia. Macron said “It’s normal that we want a European solution” for security reasons. France is limiting Huawei to eight-year licenses and is restricting its 5G technology to protect military bases and nuclear installations. U.S. officials say Huawei is a security risk, which the company denies. Macron met Friday in Paris with the Chinese foreign minister.

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The S&P 500 index rose 23.46, or 0.7%, to 3,508.01. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rallied 161.60, or 0.6%, to 28,653.87. The Nasdaq composite climbed 70.30, or 0.6%, to 11,695.63. The Russell 2000 of smaller-company stocks ended up 13.78, or 0.9%, 1,578.34.