Business Highlights: Climate bill, gas prices

August 11, 2022 GMT

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Big climate bill: Major new spending to spur green energy

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress is poised to pass a transformative climate change fighting bill. Friday’s vote would be the first major climate package in the U.S. and would include close to $375 billion in spending. Most of the bill is aimed at infusions of cash, subsidies and tax breaks to make green energy eventually so cheap it’s nearly irresistible. It would slice U.S. carbon emissions by about 40%. This compromise bill comes 34 years after Congress was warned that climate change was a serious threat. Since then there have been 308 weather disasters that each cost $1 billion.

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Gas prices dip just below $4 for the first time in 5 months

DALLAS (AP) — U.S. gas prices have dipped under $4 a gallon for the first time in more than five months. AAA says the national average is $3.99 for a gallon of regular. That’s down 15 cents in just the last week, and 68 cents in the last month. Gasoline peaked at around $5.02 a gallon on June 14. Motorists in California and Hawaii are still paying above $5, and other states in the West are paying close to that. The cheapest gas is in Texas and several other states in the South and Midwest. The decline reflects falling prices for crude oil, which have dipped close to $90 a barrel from over $120 a barrel in June.

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US wholesale inflation fell in July for 1st time in 2 years

WASHINGTON (AP) — Prices at the wholesale level fell from June to July, the first month-to-month drop in more than two years and a sign that some of the U.S. economy’s inflationary pressures cooled last month. Thursday’s report from the Labor Department showed that the producer price index — which measures inflation before it reaches consumers — declined 0.5% in July. It was the first monthly drop since April 2020 and was down from a sharp 1% increase from May to June. The easing of wholesale inflation suggests that consumers could get some relief from relentless inflation in the coming months.

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Stocks close mixed after new signs of cooling inflation

NEW YORK (AP) — An afternoon pullback left stock indexes on Wall Street mixed, erasing most of their morning gains following another encouraging report about inflation. The S&P 500 closed 0.1% lower Thursday. The Nasdaq also fell, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose slightly. Investors weighed new data showing inflation at the wholesale level slowed more than economists expected in July. That bolstered hopes that inflation may be close to a peak and that the Federal Reserve will be less aggressive about raising interest rates than feared. Stocks pared their gains after Treasury yields climbed. The Walt Disney Co. rallied after reporting stronger quarterly results than expected.

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US key 30-year mortgage rate jumps back over 5%, now 5.22%

WASHINGTON (AP) — Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates soared this week in a continued volatile market as the key 30-year loan rate jumped back over 5%. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reports that the 30-year rate rose to 5.22% from 4.99% last week. The average rate on 15-year, fixed-rate mortgages, popular among those looking to refinance their homes, increased to 4.59% from 4.26%. Last week the 30-year rate fell below 5% for the first time in four months. Experts see some stability returning to the housing market as the drop in homebuyer demand moderates although supply remains fairly tight.

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FTC looking at rules to corral tech firms’ data collection

WASHINGTON (AP) — Whether it’s the fitness tracker on your wrist, the “smart” home appliances in your house or the latest kids’ fad going viral in online videos, they all produce a trove of personal data for big tech companies. How that data is being used and protected has led to growing public concern and officials’ outrage. Now federal regulators are looking at drafting rules to crack down on what they call harmful commercial surveillance and lax data security. The Federal Trade Commission announced the initiative Thursday, seeking public comment on the harmful effects of companies’ data collection and the potential benefit of new rules to protect consumers’ privacy.

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Big Mac is coming back: McDonald’s to reopen in Ukraine

CHICAGO (AP) — McDonald’s will begin reopening some of its restaurants in Ukraine in the coming months. The burger giant closed its Ukrainian restaurants after Russia’s invasion nearly six months ago but has continued to pay its more than 10,000 employees in the country. McDonald’s said Thursday that it plans to gradually begin reopening some restaurants in the capital, Kyiv, and western Ukraine, where other companies are doing business farther from the fighting. McDonald’s has 109 restaurants in Ukraine but didn’t say how many would reopen, when that would happen or which locations would be first. McDonald’s has sold its 850 restaurants in Russia.

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Mexico raises key interest rate to 8.5%, highest in 16 years

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico’s central bank has raised its interbank interest rate by 0.75% to 8.5% — the highest level in at least 16 years. The Bank of Mexico cited continuing inflationary pressures, and predicted inflation would peak at 8.5% in the third quarter. Authorities did not rule out future rate increases, and Intercam bank says in an analysis report that interest rates could hit 10% or more, depending on inflation. Mexico’s annualized inflation rate hit 8.15% in July, the highest in more than two decades. The Mexican peso gained ground against the dollar before the widely expected move to increase rates.

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The S&P 500 slipped 2.97 points, or 0.1%, to 4,207.27. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 27.16 points, or 0.1%, to 33,336.67. The Nasdaq eased 74.89 points, or 0.6%, to 12,779.91. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies gained 6.01 points, or 0.3%, to 1,975.26.