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Biden, Republicans spar over impact of Dems’ economic plan

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats call it the “Inflation Reduction Act.” Republicans say it’s a “tax and spending spree.” And everyone has a study they say proves one or the other. Recent bipartisan action in Congress on matters ranging from producing computer chips to expanding NATO isn’t extending to the latest economic package from Democrats. For President Joe Biden, the $739 billion plan can help lower inflation, cut the budget deficit, address climate change and lower medical bills. That’s a message he’s trying to sell amid intense Republican criticism. GOP lawmakers counter that the 15% minimum corporate tax included in the proposal would hit U.S. factories and middle-class workers. They say energy costs will increase, while innovations in health care would decline.

Applications for US jobless claims up again last week

WASHINGTON (AP) — More Americans applied for jobless benefits last week as the number of unemployed continues to rise modestly, though the labor market remains one of the strongest parts of the U.S. economy. Applications for jobless aid for the week ending July 30 rose by 6,000 to 260,000 from the previous week’s 254,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday. First-time applications generally reflect layoffs. The four-week average for claims, which evens out the weekly ups and downs, also rose from the previous week, to 254,750. The Labor Department’s jobs report for July, due out Friday, is expected to show that employers added 250,000 jobs last month.

Long-term mortgage rates under 5% for 1st time in 4 months

WASHINGTON (AP) — The average long-term U.S. mortgage rate fell below 5% for the first time in four months this week, just after the Federal Reserve jacked up its main borrowing rate in an aggressive effort to get inflation under control. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported Thursday that the 30-year rate tumbled to 4.99% from 5.3% last week. A year ago, the rate was 2.77%. Last week, the Fed ratcheted up its main borrowing rate by three-quarters of a point, the second such increase in less than two months. Higher borrowing costs have cooled the housing market, which has been hot for years.

Florida woman’s lawsuit says Equifax error made loan pricier

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A Florida woman has sued Equifax claiming she was denied a car loan because of a 130-point mistake she says was part of a larger group of credit score errors the ratings agency made this spring due to a coding problem. The class action lawsuit was filed in federal court in Atlanta on behalf of Nydia Jenkins and potentially millions of others who applied for credit during a three-week period earlier this year. The Jacksonville, Florida woman says she was forced to accept another loan that was $150 per month more than the one she was turned down for because of the error.

Employment market shows signs of cooling amid rate hikes

NEW YORK (AP) — The employment market appears to have lost some of its sizzle, a development that could influence Federal Reserve policy and further raise concerns about an economic recession among investors. Job openings have been edging lower since April as rising inflation tightened its grip on businesses and crimped consumer spending. In June, openings fell to 10.7 million, their lowest levels since September. Openings are still at an historically high level, having never exceeded 8 million in a month prior to a year ago. A tighter job market could be a signal that the economy is slowing enough for the Fed to ease up on interest rate hikes.

Twitter responds to Musk’s claims, calls them ‘excuses’

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Twitter denied in a court filing that it had deprived its would-be acquirer, billionaire and Tesla CEO Elon Musk, of necessary information or misrepresented details about its business. Musk originally made those charges to justify his attempt to back out of a $44 billion deal to buy the social platform. In a counterclaim filed Thursday, Twitter calls Musk’s reasoning “a story, imagined in an effort to escape a merger agreement that Musk no longer found attractive.” Musk’s counterclaim, which Twitter is responding to, has not been made public. A judge ruled on Wednesday that it will be made public by Friday.

Tesla investors approve stock split; Musk to add factories

DETROIT (AP) — Tesla shareholders have approved a three-for-one stock split, a move that will make the company’s shares more accessible to smaller investors. Preliminary results of the shareholder vote were announced at the company’s annual meeting at its factory in Austin, Texas. CEO Elon Musk also discussed a major factory expansion as the company moves toward a goal of making 20 million vehicles per year. It currently produces around 1.5 million per year. He said Tesla might announce another factory site this year, and it expects to have about a dozen in the future.

Advocates: Senate bill means environmental health, also harm

Billions of dollars in climate and environment investments from the Inflation Reduction Act could flow to communities in the United States that have been plagued by pollution and climate threats for decades. The bill, announced by Sens. Chuck Schumer and Joe Manchin last month, could also jumpstart a transition to clean energy in regions still dominated by fossil fuels. But there are also provisions in the bill that are supportive of fossil fuel expansion. And some who live and work where climate and environmental injustices are the norm worry that those parts of the bill force their communities to accept further harm from pollution in order to protect their health from climate change.

US stocks end mixed amid earnings, economic updates

Stocks closed mixed on Wall Street Thursday as investors continued to review the latest updates on the economy and corporate earnings. The S&P 500 slipped less than 0.1%. The Dow Jones industrials fell and the Nasdaq rose. Energy companies fell, while retailers and technology companies gained ground. Bond yields slipped. Earnings remain in focus for Wall Street. Twinkie maker Hostess and bleach maker Clorox fell after giving investors disappointing profit forecasts. New data from the Labor Department showed more Americans applied for jobless benefits last week as the number of unemployed continues to rise modestly.

Beyond Meat announces layoffs after lower Q2 sales

Plant-based meat maker Beyond Meat says it’s laying off 4% of its workforce. The move follows a difficult second quarter that saw cost-conscious customers bypass its higher-priced products. El Segundo, California-based Beyond Meat said its revenue fell 1.6% to $147 million. Beyond Meat President and CEO Ethan Brown said customers dealing with food price inflation traded down to cheaper store brands of plant-based meat or bought animal meat. Brown said the results magnified the importance of the company’s longtime goal of achieving price parity with animal-based meat.

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