Update on the latest in business:

Posted September 5


Banks, tech lead US stocks lower

Banks are leading U.S. stocks lower in midday trading as investors return from the Labor Day holiday weekend and weigh the growing tensions between the U.S. and North Korea.

Technology stocks, which have been the biggest gainer this year, are also down sharply. Energy companies are bucking the slide as the price of crude oil heads higher.

Bank of America lost 2.4 percent and Qualcomm fell 3.4 percent. U.S. stocks are coming off back-to-back weekly gains.

At 12:47 p.m. Eastern Time, the S&P 500 index fell 26 points, to 2,451.

The Dow Jones industrial average gave up 246 points, to 21,742. And the Nasdaq composite dropped 89 points, to 6,346.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.09 percent.


US factory orders tumbled in July

Orders at U.S. factories tumbled in July, dragged down by a sharp fall in orders for civilian aircraft.

The Commerce Departments reports that factory orders declined 3.3 percent in July, mostly because of a 19.2 percent drop in orders in transportation equipment. Orders for civilian aircraft — which can vary wildly from month to month — tumbled 70.8 percent in July after a 129.3 percent gain last month.

Excluding the transportation sector that includes aircraft, factory orders rose 0.5 percent in July.

A category that serves as a proxy for business investment posted a solid 1 percent gain after a small 0.1 percent decline in June.

In recent months, U.S. manufacturing has been benefiting from a stronger dollar and an improving global economy.


Harvey aid, debt on returning Congress' daunting to-do list

Congress has returned to Capitol Hill today after a five-week summer recess.

The immediate focus will be rushing a $7.9 billion disaster relief package to victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Louisiana.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin (mih-NOO'-shin) raised the stakes last weekend by calling on Congress to combine the aid with a contentious increase in the nation's borrowing limit. Conservatives oppose raising the borrowing limit without getting something in exchange, such as deep cuts elsewhere in federal spending.

Lawmakers are trying to prevent a government shutdown at the end of the month.


Tech firm to pay $3.5M in settlement over preloaded software

A technology company will pay $3.5 million and change how it sells laptop computers as part of a settlement reached with federal officials and 32 states, including New Jersey.

The agreement with Lenovo settles allegations that the North Carolina-based firm sold devices with preloaded software that made users' sensitive personal information vulnerable to hackers.

The VisualDiscovery software was installed on hundreds of thousands of laptops to deliver pop-up ads to consumers.

Lenovo stopped shipping laptops with VisualDiscovery preinstalled in February 2015, but some states contend that some laptops with the software were still being sold by various retail outlets as late as June 2015.

Under the settlement, Lenovo will now obtain consumers' consent to use the software and provide a reasonable way for consumers to opt out, disable or remove it.


Lego to cut 1,400 jobs and 'reset company' after sales drop

Danish toy maker Lego will cut 1,400 jobs, or about eight percent of its global workforce, after reporting a rare decline in sales and profits in the first half of 2017.

Lego says it "now prepares to reset the company." A new CEO due to take over in October will have the task of simplifying the business after years of high growth and expansion into new ventures like film.

Revenue dropped 5 percent to $2.4 billion in the first six months of the year, mainly as a result of weakness in core markets like the U.S. and Europe. Profits slipped 3 percent.


United Technologies buys Rockwell Collins for $22.75 billion

United Technologies is acquiring Rockwell Collins for $22.75 billion in order to expand its aerospace capabilities.

United Tech, based in Farmington-Connecticut, makes Otis elevators and Pratt & Whitney engines.

Rockwell Collins, based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, makes flight deck avionics, cabin electronics and cabin interiors for commercial and military customers.

United Tech calls the businesses complementary and expects $500 million in pretax savings related to the deal.

The companies expect the deal to close by the third quarter of 2018, subject to approval from Rockwell Collins shareowners and regulators.


Bank of England settles staff pay dispute

A pay dispute that saw Bank of England staff go out on strike for the first time in decades has been settled.

Unite says in a statement that its members accepted the revised offer from the bank to end the dispute that led to a three-day strike in August. In a ballot, 60 percent of Unite members backed the new offer from the bank that includes more annual leave for staff and a payment to lower-paid employees.

Mercedes Sanchez, Unite regional officer, says members "have shown that by standing firm against an employer attempting to ignore their rights they can succeed."

The bank says the agreement includes a range of measures focused on "improving our relationship with Unite and involving them more in pay discussions."


GE to EPA: No good evidence for more Hudson River dredging

General Electric Co. says arguments for more dredging in the Hudson River to speed its recovery from PCB contamination are "unsupported by sound evidence."

Boston-based GE made the assertion to the federal Environmental Protection Agency as the agency considers the effectiveness of the six-year, $1.7 billion cleanup.

The EPA said in a review this summer that based on the data so far the cleanup will protect human health and the environment in the long term. Critics pushing for a broader cleanup argue that a large amount of PCB-contaminated sediment remains in the river.

GE told the EPA in comments released Tuesday that the cleanup is functioning as expected and that dredging advocates rely on flawed data.

GE removed 2.75 million cubic yards (2.1 million cubic meters) of polychlorinated biphenyl-contaminated sediment from the upper Hudson.


PPG completes sale of its fiberglass business

PPG Industries Inc. has completed the sale of its fiberglass operations to Nippon Electric Glass Co.

The maker of industrial products said Tuesday proceeds were about $541 million pretax. Last year the company, which was founded in 1883 as Pittsburgh Plate Glass, sold its European fiberglass business, stakes in two Asian fiberglass joint ventures and its North American flat glass business.

Its key focus is now on paints and industrial coatings.

Nippon Electric Glass, based in Japan, gained facilities in Chester, South Carolina, and Lexington and Shelby, North Carolina; and research-and-development and administrative operations in Shelby and Harmar, Pennsylvania. The acquired business employs more than 1,000 people and had sales of about $350 million in 2016. It supplies the transportation, energy, infrastructure and consumer markets.


Nigeria, South Africa say they are out of recession

Two of Africa's leading economies say they've emerged from recession.

South Africa and Nigeria have released figures showing economic growth in the second quarter of this year.

South Africa's government says the gross domestic product grew by 2.5 percent in the quarter, helped by the agriculture, forestry and fishing sectors. The country announced in June it had entered recession.

Nigeria's government says its GDP grew by .55 percent in the quarter, aided by growing oil production. The West African power has struggled to diversify its economy beyond oil and has suffered from militant attacks on oil facilities in the oil-rich Niger Delta.


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