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1.2 million seek jobless aid after $600 federal check ends

WASHINGTON — Nearly 1.2 million laid-off Americans applied for state unemployment benefits last week, evidence that the coronavirus keeps forcing companies to slash jobs just as a critical $600 weekly federal jobless payment has expired. The government’s report did offer a smidgen of hopeful news: The number of jobless claims declined by 249,000 from the previous week, after rising for two straight weeks, and it was the lowest total since mid-March. Still, the pace remains at alarmingly high levels: It is the 20th straight week that at least 1 million people have sought jobless aid. Before the pandemic hit hard, the number of Americans seeking unemployment checks had never surpassed 700,000 in a week.

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AAA: Partially automated driving systems don’t always work

DETROIT — Two tests by AAA during the past two years show that partially automated driving systems don’t always function properly. So the auto club is recommending that car companies limit their use. Researchers recently tested systems from five manufacturers over a distance of 4,000 miles. They ran into problems every eight miles. AAA is recommending that automakers stop putting the systems on additional models until they can work out some of the bugs. Most of the issues involved systems designed to keep vehicles in their lane, but the tests discovered that many had trouble spotting simulated broken-down vehicles in their path. Messages were left seeking comment from automakers with vehicles in the latest test.

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Wall Street perks up as S&P 500 pulls within 1.1% of record

NEW YORK — Stocks closed higher on Wall Street Thursday after a report showed the pace of layoffs across the country is slowing, though it remains incredibly high. The S&P 500 added 0.6% after spending much of the day waffling between smaller gains and losses. It rose for the fifth day in a row and is now back within 1.1% of the record high it set in February. The Dow rose 185 points as investors waited for Congress and the White House to reach a hoped-for deal on more aid for the economy. The Nasdaq closed at another record high.

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Bank of England says economy will take time to heal

LONDON — The Bank of England left interest rates unchanged at a record low 0.1% amid caution about how rapidly the United Kingdom will recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. The bank also left the size of its bond-buying stimulus program unchanged at 745 billion pounds, or $980 billion. The central bank forecast that the economy would shrink less than previously expected this year. But it said gross domestic product probably won’t return to pre-pandemic levels until the end of 2021 as spending by consumers and businesses remains weak. The unemployment rate is expected to almost double this year.

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Fed’s Main Street pandemic support program off to slow start

WASHINGTON — The Federal Reserve says its Main Street Lending Program designed to help small and medium-sized companies get through the pandemic has managed to make just eight loans in its first month of operations. In its first report on the program, the Fed said Thursday it had provided $76.9 million in loans since it started operations on July 6. That’s just a sliver of the up to $600 billion the central bank has said it will provide to cash-strapped companies through its Main Street program. The largest loan went to a Mount Pocono, Pennsylvania, casino operator for $50 million, followed by $12.3 million to a dental practice in Madison, Wisconsin.

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Uber lost $1.8B in 2Q as riders stayed home and ordered in

NEW YORK — Uber lost $1.78 billion in the second quarter as the pandemic carved a gaping hole in its ride-hailing business, with millions of people staying home to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. Its food delivery business grew as more people ordered in, but that growing part of its business didn’t turn a profit. The San Francisco-based ride-hailing giant brought in $2.24 billion in revenue during the second quarter, down 27% from the same time last year. Uber’s mobility business, which includes ride-hailing and micro-mobility options such as scooters and bikes, saw its revenue shrink 67% from a year ago.

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Toyota’s profit plunges as pandemic halves vehicle sales

TOKYO — Toyota’s profit plunged 74% in the April-June quarter as the coronavirus pandemic sank vehicle sales to about half of what the top Japanese automaker sold a year earlier. Toyota Motor Corp. reported Thursday a fiscal first quarter profit of 158.8 billion yen, or $1.5 billion. It said it sold nearly 1.2 million vehicles globally during the quarter, down from 2.3 million vehicles last year. The decline was almost entirely because of damage from the pandemic that resulted in lockdowns, production halts and sales disruptions. Sales suffered in nearly all global markets, but are starting to recover in China.

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The S&P 500 rose 21.39, or 0.6%, to 3,349.16. The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 185.46, or 0.7%, to 27,386.98. The Nasdaq composite rose 109.67, or 1%, to 11,108.07. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks slipped 1.61 points, or 0.1%, to 1,544.62.

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