Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Business Highlights: Used-car prices, debt limit debate

by Associated Press

A small victory: Used-car prices slip from dizzy heights

DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) — For months, anyone who wandered onto a dealer lot to look for a used car could be forgiven for doing a double take — and then wandering right off the lot. Prices had rocketed more than 40% since before the coronavirus pandemic began — to an average of nearly $25,000. But now, a sliver of hope has emerged. The seemingly endless streak of skyrocketing used vehicle prices appears to be coming to a close. Not that anyone should expect bargains. Though average prices for cars, trucks and SUVs are gradually declining, they’ll likely remain near record levels. _

Dems hit McConnell, who says GOP won’t back debt limit boost

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Democrats are accusing Republicans of a cynical ploy that would damage the government’s credit rating and the economy. Their criticisms came after the chamber’s GOP leader said his party would vote against an impending effort to raise the federal debt limit. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had said he believes all Republicans will vote against renewing Washington’s ability to borrow money. The government, which has been running huge budget deficits for years, needs to borrow cash constantly to pay its debts, but its legal authority to do that expires July 31. An expiration of the government’s borrowing authority could lead to a federal default. _

Agency pledges tough action to buttress ‘right to repair’

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal regulators are moving to give consumers freedom to repair their broken cellphones, computers, videogame consoles and even tractors themselves, or to use independent repair shops. Regulators say manufacturers’ repair restrictions often fall most heavily on minority and low-income consumers. Responding to a new competition directive from the Biden White House, the Federal Trade Commission is advancing toward writing new rules aimed at helping small repair businesses and saving consumers money on repair costs. The FTC commissioners adopted a policy statement Wednesday supporting the “right to repair” that pledges beefed-up enforcement efforts against violations. _

US, Germany seal deal on contentious Russian gas pipeline

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States and Germany have reached a deal that will allow the completion of a controversial Russian gas pipeline to Europe without the imposition of further U.S. sanctions. The two governments announced the agreement in a joint statement on Wednesday and it was immediately assailed by members of Congress opposed to the Nord Stream 2 project. The deal is intended to address U.S. and eastern and central European concerns about Russia using the pipeline as a political weapon. Both sides committed to imposing sanctions on Russia, including potentially shutting down the pipeline, if Russia does that, but critics said it didn’t go far enough.

Strong Q2 from J&J as pandemic-hit sales, profit recover

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (AP) — Johnson & Johnson’s second-quarter profit soared 73%, thanks to strong sales growth, particularly in its medical device and diagnostics segment, as hospitals and the health care industry as a whole continue recovering from the coronavirus pandemic. The health care giant also got a boost from favorable currency exchange rates and hiked its sales and profit forecasts sharply for the year. The world’s biggest maker of health care products on Wednesday reported net income of $6.28 billion, or $2.35 per share, in the quarter. That easily topped Wall Street projections. Revenue totaled $23.31 billion, up 27.1%, but vaccine sales were tiny. _

US airlines say COVID-19 variants aren’t hurting bookings

NEW YORK (AP) — Airlines say the current rise in new cases of coronavirus aren’t scaring away travelers. United Airlines said Wednesday that bookings are rising and it has seen no slowdown because of the fast-spreading delta variant of COVID-19. Delta Air Lines says the same thing. International travel is still sluggish, however, and airlines are lobbying the Biden administration to lift restrictions that prevent most Europeans from entering the United States. They say European countries are welcoming Americans. White House press secretary Jen Psaki says the administration will be guided by advice from public-health experts. _

Stocks climb on Wall Street as more company earnings roll in

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks closed higher again on Wall Street, extending their gains following a sharp drop at the beginning of the week. Investors turned their attention to company earnings, which have started to roll in steadily. The S&P 500 rose 0.8%. Small-company stocks outpaced the rest of the market again, rising 1.8%. Coca-Cola rose 1.3% after the company raised its full-year forecast and reported better-than-expected results. Chipotle Mexican Grill jumped 11.5% after the company also reported much better than expected results after the closing bell Tuesday. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 1.29%, but it’s still below where it was last week. _

Ford, Argo AI to deploy autonomous vehicles on Lyft network

DETROIT (AP) — Ford Motor Co. and a self-driving vehicle company it partly owns will join with the Lyft ride-hailing service to offer autonomous rides on the Lyft network. The service using Ford vehicles and a driving system developed by Argo AI will begin in Miami later this year and start in Austin, Texas, in 2022. The companies say it will begin with human backup drivers and go fully autonomous on an unspecified date. The vehicles will gather data to lay the groundwork to deploy 1,000 Ford robotaxis on the Lyft network in multiple markets in the next five years, the companies said in a statement. _

The S&P 500 gained 35.63 points, or 0.8%, to 4,358.69. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 286.01 points, or 0.8%, to 34,798.00. The Nasdaq added 133.08 points, or 0.9%, to 14,631.95. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies tacked on 39.74 points, or 1.8%, to 2,234.04.

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