Business Highlights

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US unemployment rate falls to 8.4% even as hiring slows

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. unemployment dropped sharply in August to a still-high 8.4% from 10.2%, with about half the 22 million jobs lost to the coronavirus outbreak recovered so far, the government said Friday in one of the last major economic reports before Election Day. Employers added 1.4 million jobs last month, the Labor Department said, down from 1.7 million in July and the fewest since hiring resumed in May. The economy has recovered barely half the 22 million jobs that vanished when the pandemic paralyzed the nation in early spring.

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Pentagon reaffirms Microsoft as winner of disputed JEDI deal

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Pentagon has reaffirmed tech giant Microsoft as winner of a cloud computing contract potentially worth $10 billion. This follows a review triggered by rival Amazon’s assertion that the bidding process was flawed and unfair. Work on the JEDI cloud project was supposed to have begun in February, but was temporarily halted by a federal judge who said Amazon’s argument had merit. The Pentagon said Friday, following a months-long review, that it determined Microsoft’s proposal represents the best value for the government. Work cannot start right away because of the judge’s injunction. Amazon blasted the Pentagon’s latest decision as improper.

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Amazon expanding to 25,000 workers in Seattle suburb

BELLEVUE, Wash. (AP) — The Seattle suburb of Bellevue may soon be Amazon’s unofficial “HQ3.” The Seattle-based tech giant announced on Friday that it was expanding its workforce footprint in Bellevue, with new office space plans that will host a total of 25,000 employees in the next several years, the Seattle Times reports. That’s the same number of employees promised for Arlington, Virginia, by 2030, as part of Amazon’s closely watched “HQ2” sweepstakes in 2018. Bellevue, meanwhile, hasn’t provided tax breaks or financial incentives to lure Amazon.

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Nissan’s Ghosn gone, American Kelly faces Japan trial alone

TOKYO (AP) — His boss Carlos Ghosn escaped financial misconduct charges by fleeing the country, but another former Nissan executive is still awaiting trial in Japan: Greg Kelly. His trial in Tokyo District Court opens Sept. 15, nearly two years after his arrest, and the day he turns 64. If convicted of charges related to alleged under-reporting of Ghosn’s pay, Kelly could face up to a decade in prison. Kelly says he is innocent, as does Ghosn. Jamie Wareham, Kelly’s lawyer, says the real motive behind the case was a “corporate coup” to oust Ghosn.

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Stocks claw back some of their losses in another rocky day

NEW YORK (AP) — The stock market ended a second straight day of turbulent trading with more losses Friday, but managed to recoup some lost ground by the end of the day. Technology stocks were again the focus of the selling, and big names like Facebook, Amazon and Google’s parent company ended lower. There wasn’t a particular catalyst for continued selling in the high-flying tech sector, but analysts noted that those stocks had posted gigantic gains so far this year that many thought were overdone. The S&P 500 lost 0.8%, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq lost 1.3%. U.S. markets will be closed Monday for Labor Day.

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Mustang Ranch brothel eligible for coronavirus relief grant

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The famed Mustang Ranch brothel is eligible to apply for small business grants as part of money a Nevada county received under a federal coronavirus relief package, officials have decided. The brothel, located about 15 miles east of Reno, is the only one in Storey County and is among roughly 20 legal brothels in the state, all of which have been shuttered since mid-March. It is owned by a county commissioner, Lance Gilman. The county, which plans to offer grants of up to $3,000, is among a group of largely rural counties that are issuing small business grants with money they received as part of a federal relief package sending $150 billion to local governments.

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Bahrain to allow Israel flights to UAE over its airspace

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Bahrain will allow “all flights coming to and departing from the United Arab Emirates” to cross through the island kingdom’s airspace. It’s a statement apparently allowing Israeli flights after neighboring Saudi Arabia issued a similar announcement. The state-run Bahrain News Agency made the announcement without directly naming Israel, just as Saudi Arabia had. However, the announcement late Thursday came just days after the kingdom allowed the first direct Israeli commercial passenger flight to use its airspace to reach the UAE. The statement makes no mention of the kingdom’s rival, Iran, nor Qatar, which Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE are currently boycotting.

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The S&P 500 fell 28.10 points, or 0.8%, to 3,426.96. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 159.42 points, or 0.6%, to 28,133.31. The technology-heavy Nasdaq dropped 144.97 points, or 1.3%, to 11,313.13. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks ended down 9.38 points, or 0.6%, at 1,535.30.