Business Highlights: Outdoor workers and wildfire smoke, bull market for stocks


Smoke from wildfires, a fact of life in the West, catch outdoor workers off guard in the East

NEW YORK (AP) — The hazardous haze from Canada’s wildfires is taking its toll on outdoor workers along the Eastern U.S. who carried on with their daily jobs even as dystopian orange skies forced the cancelation of sports events, school field trips and Broadway plays. Delivery workers, construction workers, railroad and airport employees, farm laborers and others and faced risks with echoes of the pandemic and familiar to their counterparts in the West Coast. But smoky skies were a new threat in the East Coast, catching many workers and employers by surprise and uncertain about what to do. Some left their jobs in the middle of the day, unable to carry on as the air quality worsened. Most pushed through in the hopes the crisis would quickly pass with little lasting damage.


The S&P 500 is in a bull market. Here’s what that means and how long the bull might run

NEW YORK (AP) — The S&P 500 is now in what Wall Street refers to as a bull market, meaning the index has risen 20% or more from its most recent low. The S&P 500 closed Thursday at 4,294, and the bull market is considered to have begun on Oct. 13, 2022, a day after the index closed at 3,577. The rally was driven by a small group of mostly high-valued technology stocks. Wall Street’s nickname for a surging stock market is a bull market because bulls charge. In contrast, bears hibernate, so bears represent a market that’s retreating.


Stock market today: Bulls run again on Wall Street as S&P 500 climbs 20% above October low

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks rose just enough for Wall Street to barrel into a new bull market as the S&P 500 keeps rallying off its low from last autumn. The index rose 0.6% Thursday to carry it 20% above a bottom hit in October. That means Wall Street’s main measure of health has climbed out of a painful bear market, which saw it drop just over 25% in roughly nine months. That’s shorter than a typical bear market, and it also resulted in a shallower loss than average. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.5%, and the Nasdaq composite added 1%.


Europe’s economy shrank. For households that are hurting, it’s just numbers

LONDON (AP) — The European economy has contracted slightly at the end of last year and beginning of 2023. The revised figures released Thursday by the European Union’s statistics agency underline the impact of the loss of Russian natural gas and high inflation on consumer spending. Economic output in the 20 countries that use the euro currency dropped 0.1% in both the final three months of 2022 and first three months of this year from the previous quarters. Two consecutive quarters of declining output is one definition of recession. However, the economists on a panel that declares eurozone recessions use a broader set of data, including unemployment figures.


US applications for jobless benefits highest since October 2021

WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits last week rose to its highest level since October 2021, but the labor market remains one of the healthiest parts of the U.S. economy. The Labor Department reported Thursday that U.S. applications for jobless claims were 261,000 for the week ending June 3, an increase of 28,000 from the previous week’s 233,000. Weekly jobless claims are considered representative of U.S. layoffs. The four-week moving average of claims, which evens out some of the weekly variations, rose by 7,500 to 237,250. Overall, 1.76 million people were collecting unemployment benefits the week that ended May 27.


GM’s electric vehicles will gain access to Tesla’s vast charging network

DETROIT (AP) — Electric vehicles made by General Motors will be able to use much of Tesla’s vast charging network starting early next year. In addition, GM will adopt Tesla’s connector, the plug that links an electric vehicle to a charging station. GM joins Ford in shifting its vehicles to about 12,000 of Tesla’s chargers, and both Detroit automakers are pushing to make Tesla’s connector the industry standard. GM CEO Mary Barra and her Tesla counterpart, Elon Musk, made the announcement during a Twitter Spaces conversation. Their discussion comes two weeks after Ford CEO Jim Farley joined Musk to announce that Ford’s electric vehicles would gain access to much of Tesla’s EV-charging network, the largest in the nation.


Boost for homebuyers: Average long-term US mortgage rate eases from 7-month high to 6.71% this week

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The average long-term U.S. mortgage rate eased back from a seven-month high this week, a welcome change for homebuyers navigating high borrowing costs and heightened competition for relatively few homes for sale. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate on the benchmark 30-year home loan fell to 6.71% from 6.79% last week. A year ago, the rate averaged 5.23%. The pullback follows three straight weekly increases. The average rate on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages, popular with those refinancing their homes, also fell this week, slipping to 6.07% from 6.18% last week. A year ago, it averaged 4.38%, Freddie Mac said.


Los Angeles district attorney’s office quits Twitter due to barrage of ‘vicious’ homophobic attacks

The Los Angeles district attorney’s office has left Twitter due to barrage of what the office called vicious homophobic attacks. The account that went by the handle @LADAOffice no longer exists on Twitter. The office said Thursday that comments on Twitter ranged from homophobic and transphobic slurs to sexually explicit and graphic images. It added that they remained visible in replies to the account more than 24 hours after they were reported to Twitter. Multiple advocacy groups say attacks on LGBTQ+ users have increased substantially since Elon Musk took over the company last fall.


Ruff day in court: Supreme Court sides with Jack Daniel’s in dispute with makers of dog toy

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is giving whiskey maker Jack Daniel’s a reason to raise a glass. The justices on Thursday handed the company a new chance to win a trademark dispute with the makers of a dog toy that mimics the whiskey’s signature bottle. The justices unanimously said a lower court’s reasoning was flawed when it ruled for the makers of the Bad Spaniels toy. The court did not decide whether the toy’s maker had violated trademark law with their toy, which squeaks and resembles the whiskey’s signature bottle. Instead, the justices said a lower court needed to redo its analysis in the case and sent it back for further review.


The S&P 500 rose 26.41 points, or 0.6%, to 4,293.93. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 168.59 points, or 0.5%, to 33,833.61. The Nasdaq composite added 133.63 points, or 1% to 13,238.52. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fell 7.67 points, or 0.4%, to 1,880.78.

Copyright © 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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