Business Highlights


Breaking up the bundle? Dish relegates ESPN to an add-on

NEW YORK (AP) — Dish Network is offering a new “skinny” bundle of about 50 cable channels that doesn’t include ESPN and some other sports channels, giving people who don’t care about sports a way to save money on TV without joining the ranks of “cord cutters.”

Sports channels are among the most expensive for cable and satellite TV companies and are usually included in big cable bundles. That drives up the bill for all customers, whether they enjoy watching ball games or not.

Dish’s new “Flex Pack” starts at $30 a month, not including fees and taxes, while a big cable bundle typically costs about $90.


UK central bank tries to soften Brexit shock on economy

LONDON (AP) — Britain’s central bank launched a range of stimulus measures Thursday meant to jolt confidence back into an economy shocked by the vote to leave the European Union. Analysts, however, say they may not be enough to halt a slide toward recession.

In a multipronged approach intended to grease the gears of the economy by making borrowing easier and cheaper, the Bank of England cut its key rate to 0.25 per cent from a previous record low of 0.5 per cent.

It also agreed to pump new money into the economy through the purchase of government bonds and will buy up corporate bonds to make it easier for companies to borrow.


US stocks barely budge ahead of monthly jobs report

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks wavered Thursday and finished barely higher as an interest rate cut by the Bank of England, a move intended to shore up the British economy, wasn’t enough to get investors out of their cautious mode.

Technology companies continued to make the biggest gains. Oil prices rose for the second day in a row, something that hadn’t happened for almost three weeks. Bank stocks fell the most, as the interest rate cut suggests they won’t be able to make as much money on lending.


Requests for US unemployment aid rise to still-low 269,000

WASHINGTON (AP) — More Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, but the number of remained close to historic lows in a positive sign for the job market.

Applications for jobless aid rose 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted 269,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, increased 3,750 to 260,250.

The number of Americans collecting benefits has fallen 5.4 per cent over the past year to 2.14 million.


Average US 30-year mortgage rate declines to 3.43 per cent

WASHINGTON (AP) — Long-term U.S. mortgage rates declined this week after rising for three straight weeks, continuing to lure prospective homebuyers.

Mortgage giant Freddie Mac said Thursday the average for the benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to 3.43 per cent from 3.48 per cent last week. The 15-year fixed mortgage rate dipped to 2.74 per cent from 2.78 per cent last week.

Record-low interest rates this year have helped spur home purchases and boost the housing market.


Newfoundland death triggers air bag probes in US, Canada

DETROIT (AP) — Auto safety regulators in two countries are investigating another deadly air bag problem that could affect up to 8 million vehicles.

Investigators in the U.S. and Canada are looking into a crash in the Canadian province of Newfoundland in which a woman was killed by an exploding air bag inflator made by ARC Automotive Inc. of Knoxville, Tennessee.

As many as 8 million ARC inflators are under scrutiny in the U.S., mainly in older cars, although it hasn’t been determined how many of those are defective.


Ford recalls 830K vehicles to fix faulty door latches

DETROIT (AP) — Ford is recalling about 830,000 vehicles in the U.S. and Mexico because parts in the side door latches can break and the doors can open while the vehicles are moving.

The recall announced Thursday covers certain 2013 to 2015 Ford Escape SUVs and C-Max cars, and 2012 to 2015 Focus cars. Also included are 2014 to 2016 Ford Transit Connect vans, and Ford Mustang sports cars and Lincoln MKC SUVs from 2015.

Ford says a faulty spring part can break, stopping the doors from latching. The company says it knows of one crash and one injury that could have been caused by the problem.


Dollar Express regrets Muslim was asked to leave over veil

GARY, Ind. (AP) — A dollar store chain says it regrets that an employee told a woman to leave one of its Indiana stores because of her Muslim face veil.

Sarah Safi posted video on Facebook on Monday showing her exchange with a clerk at a Gary, Indiana, store. In the video, a manager tells Safi that she has to remove the veil covering or leave. When Safi tells her it is a religious garment, the manager explains that it is in a high crime area and the store gets “robbed a lot.”

Dollar Express says it’s working “to ensure that no customer is ever treated this way again.”


Slumping fast food sales in US, Canada extend to Burger King

OAKVILLE, Ontario (AP) — Restaurant Brands International said its profit jumped during the second quarter as Burger King’s sales weakness in the U.S. was offset by strength overseas.

The company said Burger King’s sales slipped 0.8 per cent at established restaurants in the U.S. and Canada, following disappointing results from other restaurant chains.

Weakening consumer confidence amid political and global uncertainty has hampered sales in the industry. Analysts have also noted that the increasing competition over promotional deals, as well as the growth of smaller, independent players.


Fannie Mae posts $2.9B profit in 2Q; paying $2.9B dividend

WASHINGTON (AP) — Fannie Mae reported net income of $2.9 billion from April through June, down from a year earlier as low interest rates brought losses for the mortgage giant on its investments.

The second-quarter results released Thursday marked the 18th straight profitable quarter for the government-controlled company.

Washington-based Fannie Mae also will pay a dividend of $2.9 billion to the U.S. Treasury next month. With that payment, Fannie will have paid a total $151.4 billion in dividends.


The Dow Jones industrial average gave up 2.95 points to 18,352.05. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index added 0.46 of a point to 2,164.25. The Nasdaq composite gained 6.51 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 5,166.25.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose $1.10, or 2.7 per cent, to $41.93 a barrel in New York after a 3 per cent climb Wednesday. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oil prices, added $1.19, or 2.8 per cent, to $44.29 a barrel in London. In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline rose 2 cents to $1.37 a gallon. Heating oil added 4 cents to $1.33 a gallon. Natural gas fell 1 cent to $2.83 per 1,000 cubic feet.