Business Highlights: Jobless claims, ‘Obamacare’ survival

US jobless claims tick up to 412,000 from a pandemic low

WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits rose last week for the first time since April despite widespread evidence that the economy and the job market are rebounding steadily from the pandemic recession. Jobless claims rose 37,000 from the week before. As the job market has strengthened, the number of weekly applications for unemployment aid has fallen for most of the year. The weekly number of jobless claims generally reflects the pace of layoffs. With vaccinations up and more consumers venturing out to spend — on restaurant meals, airline fares, movie tickets and store purchases — the economy is rapidly recovering from the recession.

‘Obamacare’ survives: Supreme Court dismisses big challenge

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has dismissed a third major challenge to “Obamacare,” preserving health insurance coverage for millions of Americans. Though the court has become increasingly conservative with justices nominated by former President Donald Trump, it nonetheless left the entire law intact Thursday. The court ruled 7-to-2 that Texas, other Republican-led states and two individuals had no right to bring their lawsuit in federal court. The law’s major provisions include protections for people with preexisting health conditions, a range of no-cost preventive services and the expansion of the Medicaid program that insures lower-income people, including those who work in jobs that don’t pay much or provide health insurance.

Most stocks fall, tech holds up as markets digest Fed moves

NEW YORK (AP) — Most stocks ended lower on Wall Street Thursday as investors continued to interpret new guidance from the Federal Reserve, which is now looking at potentially raising interest rates as soon as 2023. The S&P 500 lost less than 0.1%. Banks were one of the biggest drags on the market as bond yields fell. Crude oil prices also slipped and weighed on energy companies. Gold prices slumped and the U.S. dollar rose against several other major currencies. Investors got a bit of mildly disappointing economic news when the Labor Department said the number of Americans who filed for unemployment benefits last week rose slightly.

US average mortgage rates mostly lower; 30-year at 2.93%

WASHINGTON (AP) — Mortgage rates were mostly lower this week as the economy continued to show signs of recovery from the pandemic recession and recent bursts of inflation were deemed temporary by federal policymakers. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported that the average for the key 30-year home loan fell to 2.93% from 2.96% last week. The rate for a 15-year loan edged up to 2.24% from 2.23% last week. The Federal Reserve signaled Wednesday that it may act sooner than previously planned to start dialing back the low-interest rate policies that have helped spark a swift rebound from the recession but also have coincided with rising inflation.

Scotch whisky makers welcome suspension of costly US tariffs

LONDON (AP) — Scotch whisky makers are breathing a sigh of relief after the United States agreed to suspend tariffs on one of Scotland’s main exports. U.S. President Donald Trump imposed a 25% tariff on Scotch single malt whiskies in 2019 as part of a trade dispute between the U.S. and EU countries over aerospace subsidies. Earlier this week, the U.S. and the EU reached an agreement to end their dispute. The breakthrough paved the way for a 5-year suspension of tariffs both sides put on an array of products, including olive oil and cheese as well as whisky. The Scotch Whisky Association estimates that the tariffs caused more than 600 million pounds ($850 million) in lost exports to the U.S.

Ford says outlook for its 2nd quarter is improving

DETROIT (AP) — Ford’s second-quarter outlook is improving, with large numbers of customers making reservations for four of its new vehicles. Ford Motor Co. now anticipates its quarterly adjusted earnings before interest and taxes to top its expectations and be significantly better than the year-ago period. Although there’s still uncertainty around semiconductor supply, Ford is seeing improvement in its automotive business due to lower-than-expected costs and favorable market factors. It’s also being helped by increased vehicle auction values.

Brief, global internet outages blamed on software bug

BOSTON (AP) — A software bug at a major network provider briefly knocked offline dozens of financial institutions, airlines and other companies across the globe during peak Asian business hours. Akamai, which runs one of the internet’s main content-delivery systems, said the outage was not caused by a cyberattack or a system update but rather a configuration error in traffic routing on a service that protects customers against denial-of-service attacks. Most outages appeared to end after an hour or so. Brief internet service outages are not uncommon and are only rarely the result of hacking or other mischief. But they have underscored how vital a small number of behind-the-scenes companies are to running the internet.

Prosecutors seek ‘very substantial’ prison time for Avenatti

NEW YORK (AP) — Prosecutors are urging a judge to impose a “very substantial” prison sentence on Michael Avenatti for trying to extort millions of dollars from Nike. Prosecutors noted in a Manhattan federal court submission Wednesday that Probation Office officials recommend an eight-year prison term for the once high-profile California attorney. The government said Avenatti deserved a lengthy prison term at a sentencing in two weeks because he used his law degree and fame to try to force the apparel maker to pay out up to $25 million. Avenatti was convicted at trial last year. His lawyers have urged leniency, saying six months in prison and a year of home detention would be sufficient.

The S&P 500 fell 1.84 points, or less than 0.1%, to 4,221.86. The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 210.22 points, or 0.6%, to 33,823.45. The Nasdaq rose 121.67 points, or 0.9%, to 14,161.35. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies dropped 27.23 points, or 1.2%, to 2,287.46.

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