Business Highlights

By: The Associated Press
June 23, 2016 Updated: June 23, 2016 at 5:11 pm
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Vote count starts in EU referendum; pound soars

LONDON (AP) — The polls closed Thursday in Britain's historic referendum with a leading supporter of the campaign to leave the European Union saying it looked like his side had lost the vote, sending the pound soaring and cheering Britain's pro-European partisans.

But politicians and polling experts said it was far too early to declare a winner as the country began a nerve-wracking night of ballot-counting after a day of high turnout and foul weather.

A vote to leave the EU would destabilize the 28-nation trading bloc, created from the ashes of World War II to keep the peace in Europe. A "remain" vote would nonetheless leave Britain divided and the EU scrambling to reform.

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AP Sources: VW to pay near $10.2B to settle emissions claims

DETROIT (AP) — Volkswagen has agreed to take a series of steps costing about $10.2 billion to settle claims from its unprecedented diesel emissions cheating scandal in the U.S., two people briefed on the matter said Thursday.

Most of the money would go to compensate 482,000 owners of cars with 2-liter diesel engines that were programmed to turn on emissions controls during lab tests and turn them off while on the road, said the people, who asked not to be identified because a judge has issued a gag order in the case.

The bulk of the cash would be used to fix the cars, buy them back and compensate owners, according to the tentative agreement.

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US stocks jump as Britons go to polls on EU membership

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks made their biggest gain in a month Thursday as investors grew more optimistic that Britons will vote to stay in the European Union. Investors bought stocks and sold bonds, sending bond yields and banks higher.

On the last trading day before results from the British referendum, stocks continued to rise as investors grew more confident Britain won't leave the union. Bank stocks did the best, while materials companies also rose. The price of oil topped $50 a barrel. Utility companies, which are generally seen as a safe investment, lagged the market as investors took a few more risks.

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Nation's largest banks all pass Fed's 'stress tests'

NEW YORK (AP) — The U.S.'s largest financial institutions have enough armor to withstand the turmoil of a major and prolonged U.S. and global recession, the Federal Reserve said Thursday.

The annual "stress tests" show that the 33 largest financial institutions, including JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Bank of America and Wells Fargo, all hold more capital than they did the year before. They also hold enough capital that, even if faced with billions of dollars in losses from loans as a result of an economic crisis, they would continue to function.

The stress tests were created in the wake of the financial crisis and subsequent Great Recession.

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Parents wonder how to protect children who fly alone

DALLAS (AP) — The arrests this month of two men on charges of groping young girls on planes has raised questions about the safety of minors who fly alone.

Experts say that before putting children on a plane alone, parents should teach them to immediately get help if another person makes them uncomfortable. Parents should also understand that flight attendants aren't baby sitters.

There are no federal regulations, so the airlines set their own rules for minors flying alone.

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After Orlando, some businesses stress LGBT inclusivity moves

NEW YORK (AP) — Some small business owners already working to make their companies more welcoming to LGBT employees say the massacre at a gay dance club in Orlando gives them an impetus to make more changes.

Many business owners who want their companies to be inclusive for employees and customers of any nationality, race, religion or gender have become more mindful in recent years about explicitly being more welcoming to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and to those whose gender isn't male or female.

Changes to laws and policies are part of that; for example, the end to the military's "don't ask, don't tell" standard and the growing acceptance of same-sex marriage that led to last year's Supreme Court ruling that gay people have the right to marry.

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Boeing's historic deal with Iran rests on shaky foundations

WASHINGTON (AP) — Boeing Co.'s historic $25 billion deal with Iran Air potentially rides on hopes that Tehran would stop its past practice of using the airline's planes to ferry fighters and weapons across the Middle East.

Exactly five years ago, the Obama administration imposed sanctions on the Iranian company for a number of infractions. Iran Air used passenger and cargo planes to transport rockets and missiles to places such as Syria, sometimes disguised as medicine or spare parts, the Treasury Department said at the time. Although U.S. officials never have said such conduct ended, the administration used a technicality to drop those penalties as part of last year's seven-nation nuclear deal.

The changes enable Boeing to sell up to 100 aircraft to Iran Air, by far the most lucrative business transaction between the U.S. and Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution and U.S. Embassy hostage crisis.

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Tech company Twilio nearly doubles in stock market debut

NEW YORK (AP) — Twilio shares nearly doubled in their first day of trading Thursday, after the technology company raised $150 million in its initial public offering.

The San Francisco company makes software that helps companies communicate with their customers through text messages, phone notifications and in other ways. Cab hailing app Uber, for example, uses Twilio to notify riders about where their car is.

Shares of Twilio Inc. rose $13.79, or 92 percent, to close at $28.79.

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Applications for US jobless aid fall, a sign of low layoffs

WASHINGTON (AP) — Fewer people sought U.S. unemployment benefits last week, the Labor Department said Thursday, evidence that employers are holding onto their staffs and may even step up hiring.

Weekly applications dropped 18,000 to a seasonally adjusted 259,000, the lowest in two months. The less volatile four-week average declined to 267,000. Applications are a proxy for layoffs and have remained below 300,000 for 68 straight weeks, the longest such streak since 1973.

The data suggests that a recent slowdown in hiring will be temporary.

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US new-home sales tumbled in May after a surge in April

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans pulled back from buying new homes in May, reversing strong gains made in April as sales fell sharply in the Northeast and West.

New-home sales declined 6 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted rate of 551,000 from a downwardly revised 586,000 in April, the Commerce Department said Thursday. Still, sales are 6.4 percent higher year-to-date. Job growth and ultra-low mortgage rates have helped drive the increase, though the data can be volatile from month to month and across regions.

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The Dow Jones industrial average jumped 230.24 points, or 1.3 percent, to 18,011.07. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 27.87 points, also 1.3 percent, to 2,113.32. The Nasdaq composite climbed 76.72 points, or 1.6 percent, to 4,910.04.

U.S. crude rose 98 cents, or 2 percent, to $50.11 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the benchmark for international oil prices, rose $1.03, or 2.1 percent, to $50.91 a barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline rose 2 cents to $1.60 a gallon. Heating oil gained 2 cents to $1.52 a gallon. Natural gas added 2 cents to $2.70 per 1,000 cubic feet.