U.S. plans to extend nuclear plants' lives

The United States plans to extend the life spans of existing nuclear reactors and support new technologies as it seeks to revive an industry seen as crucial to its energy security, a senior U.S. official said Thursday.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette told an International Energy Agency conference on nuclear and hydrogen in Paris that both technologies were crucial for reducing carbon emissions and boosting energy security.

The U.S. nuclear industry has been in the doldrums for years because of competition from cheap natural gas and falling wind and solar power costs.

Several nuclear plants have closed while a project to build two reactors in South Carolina was abandoned in 2017 with the reactors half-built and billions of dollars in sunk costs.


The U.S. Energy Department agrees with the IEA that extending the life of existing reactors is perhaps the most competitive way to produce low-carbon electricity, Brouillette said. The DOE was working to help extend the licenses for the existing fleet out to 80 years, he added.

The United States has nearly 100 nuclear reactors in operation, which produced about 20 percent of total electrical output in 2018.

— Reuters


Fed signals boost investor confidence

Stocks closed in record territory Thursday on continued investor confidence that a market-friendly Federal Reserve will cut interest rates when it meets later this month.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed above 27,000 for the first time in history, finishing the day at 27,088, a gain of 227 points, about .85 percent. Health-care giant UnitedHealth rose 5.53 percent, helping boost the blue-chip index into new territory.


The broad Standard & Poor’s 500 index close within a tick of 3,000 at 2,999.91. The gain was 6.84 points, or about .23 percent. Health care again was the star performer after the Trump administration on Thursday withdrew a proposal to lower drug prices.

The technology-heavy Nasdaq composite closed down slightly for the day, finishing at 8,196.

Markets have raced ahead at the start of the second half of the year following big gains in the first six months. The S&P is up 19.65 percent on the year. The Dow is up 16 percent and the Nasdaq has surged more than 23 percent in 2019.

Investors said this week’s run is due to Federal Reserve Chair Jerome H. Powell’s appearance on Capitol Hill, where in two days of testimony he signaled to lawmakers that the central bank is likely to raise rates.


— Thomas Heath


Also in Business

Lockheed Martin has decided to keep open its Sikorsky helicopter plant in Pennsylvania following a request from President Trump. Wednesday night's announcement comes little more than a month after the company told the Coatesville facility's 465 employees the plant would close by the end of the year. In a statement, Lockheed Martin chairman and CEO Marillyn Hewson said at Trump's request, she reviewed the decision and decided to keep the plant open.

Walgreens Boots Alliance said on Thursday that it expanded its partnership with Kaleo to include the company's epinephrine auto-injectors for infants and toddlers in its pharmacies amid a national shortage of the emergency allergy shots. The company's move comes days after Novartis said it would make its pre-filled epinephrine shots immediately available in local pharmacies.


Fiat Chrysler plans to invest $788 million in an electric makeover of its iconic Fiat 500, a top executive said Thursday, as the automaker seeks to move on from its failed bid to merge with France's Renault. The 500 compact car is one of the group's most famous models, launched by then-Fiat in the late 1950s.

OPEC on Thursday forecast world demand for its crude will decline next year as rivals pump more, pointing to the return of a surplus despite an OPEC-led pact to restrain supplies. The drop in demand for OPEC crude highlights the sustained boost that OPEC's policy to support oil prices by supply cuts is giving to U.S. shale and other rival supply.

Coming today

8:30 a.m.: Labor Department releases the Producer Price Index for June.

— From news services