Update on the latest in business:

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Stocks waver

NEW YORK (AP) — Wall Street is flipping between gains and losses after CEOs of the country’s biggest banks painted a mixed picture of how badly the coronavirus pandemic is ripping through their businesses.

The S&P 500 was virtually flat in late morning after earlier being down 0.9% and then up 0.4%. It follows up on Monday’s turbulent day where stocks veered from an early gain to a loss after California brought back restrictions on its economy amid a jump in coronavirus counts.

Stocks overseas mostly fell, while Treasury yields dipped lower in another sign of pessimism about the economy.


Spiking cost of gasoline pushes June consumer prices up 0.6%

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. consumer prices increased 0.6% in June, after three months of declines, with a big jump in gasoline prices accounting for over half of the gain.

The Labor Department reported Tuesday that ithe increase in ts consumer price index followed declines of 0.4% in March, 0.8% in April and 0.1% in May as the hit to demand caused by the widespread shutdowns of the economy kept a lid on prices.

The June report showed that energy prices jumped 5.1% with gasoline costs surging 12.3%. However, even with that gain gasoline pump prices are 23.4% below where they were a year ago.


Banks set aside billions, bracing for more economic pain

NEW YORK (AP) — With tens of millions of Americans out of work and many businesses shut down or operating under restrictions due to the coronavirus, three of the nation’s biggest banks set aside nearly $30 billion in the second quarter to cover potentially bad loans that were fine only a few months ago.

The results from JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Citigroup on Tuesday offer perhaps the broadest glimpse yet into how badly the pandemic is impacting the financial health of American consumers and businesses.

Wells Fargo lost $2.4 billion in the second quarter, the first quarterly loss for the bank since the real estate crash of 2008. Wells said it set aside an additional $8.4 billion for loan loss provisions.

Bank executives, in conference calls with analysts and reporters, said they underestimated how long the pandemic would last and its impacts on the overall economy.


US, Canada ready to extend border-closing agreement

TORONTO (AP) — The U.S. and Canada are poised to extend their agreement to keep their shared border closed to non-essential travel to Aug. 21, but a final confirmation has not been given. That's according to a person familiar with the matter.

The agreement would extend the closure by another 30 days. The official was not authorized to speak publicly ahead of an announcement this week, and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The restrictions were announced on March 18 and were extended in April, May and June. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says a decision on the border will be announced “in the coming days.”


“Growth has stalled”: Surge in US infections hits Delta

UNDATED (AP) — Delta Air Lines lost $5.7 billion in the second quarter, as the coronavirus pandemic crushed air travel.

A hoped-for travel recovery that began slowly in mid-April has been smothered by a resurgence in US infections, especially in the South and West.

Delta CEO Ed Bastian says growth in bookings has stalled. He says it was “growing at a pretty nice clip through June,” but so was the virus.

Delta is the first U.S. airline to report financial results for the May-through-June quarter, and the numbers were ugly. The number of passengers tumbled 93% from a year earlier, revenue plummeted 88%, and the company’s adjusted loss was worse than expected.


LONDON (AP) — Virgin Atlantic has raised $1.8 billion from private sources, including from founder Richard Branson. The company made the announcement Tuesday as it tries to rebuild its battered finances following the economic shock of the coronavirus pandemic.

Branson’s Virgin Group will provide 200 million pounds, while Delta Air Lines, which owns 49% of the airline, has agreed to defer payments due. Hedge fund Davidson Kempner has also agreed to lend Virgin Atlantic 170 million pounds.

The airline is due to resume flights on Monday after suspending passenger services because of the virus.


UK backtracks on giving Huawei role in high-speed network

LONDON (AP) — Britain has backtracked on plans to give Chinese telecommunications company Huawei a role in the U.K.’s new high-speed mobile phone network amid security concerns fueled by rising tensions between Beijing and western powers.

Britain said Tuesday it decided to prohibit Huawei from working on the so-called 5G system after U.S. sanctions made it impossible to ensure the security of equipment made by the Chinese company.

The U.S. had also threatened to sever an intelligence-sharing arrangement with the UK because of concerns that Huawei’s involvement could allow the Chinese government to infiltrate U.K. networks.


Burger King addresses climate change by changing cows’ diets

UNDATED (AP) — Burger King is staging an intervention with its cows.

The chain has rebalanced the diet of some of the cows by adding lemon grass in a bid to limit bovine contributions to climate change. By tweaking their diet, Burger King said Tuesday that it believes it can reduce a cows’ daily methane emissions by about 33%.

Cows emit methane as a by-product of their digestion. Methane emissions from livestock comprised more than a quarter of the emissions from the agriculture sector.

With an over-the-top social media campaign that teeters between vulgarity and science, Burger King is banking on the heightened awareness of climate change and its responsibility to limit its own role.


Demand for robot cooks rises as kitchens combat COVID-19

HAYWARD, Calif. (AP) — Robots that can flip burgers, make salads and even bake bread are in growing demand as virus-wary kitchens try to put some distance between workers and customers.

Starting this fall, the White Castle burger chain will test a robot arm that can cook french fries and corn dogs. The robot, dubbed Flippy, is made by Pasadena, California-based Miso Robotics.

Robot food service was a trend even before the coronavirus pandemic struck. Chowbotics, which makes a robot called Sally that makes salads, has been used by hospitals and universities to meet demand for fresh, customized options 24 hours a day. But Chowbotics and others say demand is booming as food service providers seek ways to limit interaction and keep workers and customers safe.


South Korean firm quits petrochemical plant effort in Ohio

CLEVELAND (AP) — A South Korean company’s U.S. subsidiary has withdrawn from a partnership with a subsidiary of a Thailand-based company to build a multi-billion dollar petrochemical plant in Ohio.

PTT Global Chemical America issued a statement early Tuesday from company President and CEO Toasaporn Boonyapipat saying the proposed project in Belmont County remains a “top priority” and that PTTGCA is seeking a new partner after the withdrawal of Daelim Chemical USA.

A joint statement from the subsidiaries cited the COVID-19 pandemic and oil price volatility for yet another delay in announcing whether the plant along the Ohio River would be built.


Court asked to stop work at Formosa Plastics’ Louisiana site

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Opponents of a Taiwan-based company’s plans for a $9.4 billion plastics complex have asked a federal judge to stop work at the site in Louisiana. The 55-page request says planned construction will damage nearby wetlands, increase the likelihood of offsite flooding and desecrate graves of enslaved people.

National and New Orleans-area environmental and community groups filed the request Tuesday in Washington, where they sued the Army Corps of Engineers for approving wetlands permits for the project.

The Corps says it cannot comment about pending litigation. Formosa Plastics Group member FG LA LLC says it is working on a comment. It describes current work as “preconstruction.”


Zappos tries something new: sell 1 shoe instead of 2

NEW YORK (AP) — Zappos is trying out new ways to sell shoes: allow shoppers to buy a single shoe at a time or buy a pair in two different sizes.

The tests, which started Tuesday, are aimed at amputees, those with differing foot sizes and other people who have been left out by the shoe industry, which has sold shoes in pairs and in the same size for decades.

Zappos said shoppers have been asking for the new options for years, but the requests grew stronger in 2017 when it launched its Zappos Adaptive site, which sells clothing and shoes designed for people with disabilities or other needs.

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The Associated Press


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