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Business Highlights: Publishing merger battle, chip fight

Business Highlights: Publishing merger battle, chip fight

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US begins court battle against publishing giants’ merger

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. government and publishing titan Penguin Random House exchanged opening salvos in a federal antitrust trial. The U.S. wants to block the biggest U.S. book publisher from absorbing rival Simon & Schuster. The trial beginning Monday in Washington is a key test of the Biden administration’s antitrust policy. The Justice Department has sued to block the $2.2 billion merger, which would reduce the Big Five U.S. publishers to four. The government’s star witness, author Stephen King, whose works are published by Simon & Schuster, is expected to testify at Tuesday’s session of the weekslong trial.

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Bumps, bipartisanship in long fight for semiconductor bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden will soon be signing into law a major bill to revive the U.S. computer chip sector. The back story of how the legislation is reaching his desk after more than 18 months reveals the complexities of bipartisanship, even when all sides agree on the need to act. As administration officials see it, the bill cleared Congress last week because of a deep coalition and persistence. But many Republicans believe they provided crucial support only to be double crossed. Proponents say the billions for computer chips and scientific research could help to cut inflation, create factory jobs, defend the U.S. and allies and preserve an edge against an ambitious China.

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Stocks slide to start August after best month since 2020

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks closed slightly lower on Wall Street Monday as investors began another busy week of earnings and economic reports. The S&P 500 fell 0.3%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nasdaq also closed lower. U.S. crude oil prices dropped, weighing heavily on energy companies. Retailers and consumer product makers made solid gains. Boeing jumped after it cleared a key hurdle with federal regulators to resume deliveries of its large 787 airliner. August’s subdued opening follows a solid rally for stocks in July that marked the best month for the the benchmark S&P 500 since November 2020.

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USDA getting tougher on salmonella in chicken products

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The U.S. Department of Agriculture is proposing new regulations that would force food processors to reduce the amount of salmonella bacteria found in some raw chicken products or risk shutdowns. The proposed USDA rules announced Monday would declare salmonella an adulterant — a contaminant that can cause food-borne illness — in breaded and stuffed raw chicken products. That includes many frozen foods found in grocery stores that appear to be cooked through but are only heat-treated to set the batter or breading. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the salmonella bacteria sickens 1.3 million Americans each year, puts 26,000 in hospitals and causes 420 deaths.

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FAA clears Boeing to resume delivery of 787 Dreamliners

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal regulators are giving Boeing the green light to soon resume deliveries of its big 787 airliner. That’s according to a person familiar with the situation who talked to The Associated Press on Saturday. Boeing has been forced to stop deliveries of the 787, which it calls the Dreamliner, for most of the last two years because of production problems. But the Federal Aviation Administration is telling Boeing it will approve the company’s process for validating retrofits to each plane so they can be delivered to airline customers. That will create a valuable source of cash for Boeing. The planes are built in Washington state and South Carolina.

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Germany argues over nuclear shutdown amid gas supply worries

BERLIN (AP) — Rising concern over the impact of a potential Russian gas cutoff is fueling the debate in Germany over whether the country should switch off its last three nuclear power plants as planned at the end of this year. The door to some kind of extension appeared to open a crack after the Economy Ministry in mid-July announced a new “stress test” on the security of electricity supplies. It’s supposed to take into account a tougher scenario than a previous test, concluded in May, that found supplies were assured. Since then, Russia has reduced natural gas supplies through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Germany to 20% of capacity amid tensions over the war in Ukraine.

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Pilots with Germany’s Lufthansa back possible strike action

BERLIN (AP) — A union says pilots with Germany’s Lufthansa have voted in favor of possible strike action. It said Sunday that walkouts can still be avoided but called the result an “unmistakable signal” to the company in a pay dispute. The Vereinigung Cockpit union is calling for a 5.5% pay increase this year and an automatic adjustment for inflation starting next year. The union said that 97.6% of pilots who took part in a ballot approved its call. The dispute comes on top of a separate altercation with a union representing Lufthansa ground staff in Germany.

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Biden nominates utility’s ex-board chair to rejoin panel

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — President Joe Biden has nominated the former board chairman of the nation’s largest public utility to rejoin the panel. Huntsville, Alabama attorney Joe Ritch is Biden’s nominee to return to the board of the Tennessee Valley Authority for a term that expires in May 2025. Ritch left the board in 2017 after a Republican-controlled Senate failed the previous year to confirm former President Barack Obama’s reappointment of Ritch and two others. The nine-member board currently has four vacancies, not counting two sitting members who continue to serve after their terms expired in May. Ritch now joins five other Biden board picks awaiting Senate confirmation.

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The S&P 500 slipped 11.66 points, or 0.3%, to 4,118.63 The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 46.73 points, or 0.1%, to 32,798.40. The Nasdaq dropped 21.71 points, or 0.2%, to 12,368.98. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fell 1.92 points, or 0.1%, to 1,883.31.